Residents of Kigulya Cell in Kigulya Division, Masindi Municipality accuse the National Forestry Authority (NFA) of purportedly spraying their crops with herbicide, resulting into withering.
The residents who grow crops on the slopes of Kigulya hill claim that more than 10 acres of cassava crop have withered after people suspected to be from NFA planting eucalyptus trees on the same slopes sprayed the crop with herbicide.
Mr Emmanuel Opeti, the cell secretary for publicity says NFA applied a barbaric trajectory when it sprayed the crops with the hazardous chemical adding that the Authority should have informed the farmers to first harvest their crops from their gardens if it wanted to use the land.
“I wonder why NFA took that trend! If the Authority wanted to use the land, they should have informed the farmers prior so they harvest their crops instead of spraying them with the chemical that has dried them up,” Mr Opeti said.
Ms Jane Anirwoti, one of the affected farmers says although she would love to harvest her already withered cassava for home and market consumption, she fears that it can be toxic to human life.
“Cassava growing is the source of our livelihood. My family depends on cassava for income generation and we also consume it at home. I count the loss. I want to at least have it the way it is so I can sell it but I fear that it can be harmful to human health. She said.
Ms Maria Mandawuni, another victim says she has lost one acre of her cassava to the herbicide and she does not know what to feed her family on besides to her source of income being cut off.
The Kigulya Division Chairman, Milton Wilfred Kutegeka said he was not aware of the matter.
However, he said some time back, NFA stopped planting trees on the slopes of the hill after realising that it had encroached on people’s land.
The politician was surprised to hear that NFA had sprayed crops with herbicide before opening its boundaries.
When contacted, the Budongo Range System Manage, Michael Kusuro, said he received a phone call from someone about the matter but he was yet to confirm the allegation.
Nevertheless, he maintained that hills are forest reserves which are meant for tree growing for environmental conservation purposes and not crop growing.
Recently, a group of residents from Kigulya Division petitioned the office of the Resident District Commissioner requesting it to block the eucalyptus tree planting project on the slopes of the hill reasoning that it was causing them food and financial insecurity.