Thursday July 3 2014

Trees are central to Uganda’s economy

By Rose Namayanja


The water and environment sector is central to Uganda’s economy. The rest of the sectors in the economy heavily rely on it for inputs, services, facilitation and for the productive and absorptive capacity.

The government recognises the strategic link provided by the sector to socio-economic development and the important contribution to the core mission of Government that is, to transform Uganda from a peasant society into a modern, industrial, united and prosperous skilled and middle society.

Government with the loan from the African Development Bank undertook tree-planting activities, among other projects activities, in selected districts to enhance afforestation and boost household incomes.

For the post-election period and end of the project timing-December 2012, the following outputs were registered.
164 well stocked plantation demonstration plots totalling to 820acres under farmer management were established in 81 sub-countries in the project areas.

250acres of plantation and Agro forestry demonstration established in 86 schools or institutions in the project areas. 667acres of forest plantation and avenue trees in 43 municipalities or urban centres supported in the project areas. 406km of the 50 local forest reserve boundaries in project districts were surveyed and demarcated in the project areas.

3,500acres of plantations were established in 87 local forest reserves and on communal and private land in the project areas. 9,742 million seedlings procured for plantation establishment and Agro forestry planting, schools and urban forests in the project areas.

At least 120acres of tree seed stands were established on 12 sites in project districts. Arrangements are underway to design the second phase of the project with increased volume of activity and to cover other areas.

Under the partnership arrangements with development partners, the Government implemented a programme titled Saw-Log Grant Production Scheme (SPGS) as rural development focused public-private partnership initiative.

The programme is funded by the European Union, and the government of Norway and Uganda. SPGS operates under the framework of retrospective subsidy grants to private forestry investors, provision of forestry technical support to public, private and community planters, capacity building and training for research and development.

Under this arrangement, government supported 389 private investors to plant at least 32,107 acres that have been inspected and certified to conform to commercial forestry plantation standards and also supported institutions (the prisons, churches and schools.) and individuals to establish plantations for fuel wood.

A total of 1,008.9 acres have been established for this purpose. While the programme targets commercial tree farmers, a component to encourage communities around these commercial tree growers has also been implemented through training and supplying free tree seedlings. Under this support, 3,960 acres have been planted by 7,215 households.

The programme has demonstrated multiple benefits and a tree champion towards increased and sustainable afforestation in the country. Government will continue to mobilise resources from within and other partners in order to upscale the operations of this project to improve household incomes. Government has ensured that the four gazetted National Tree Planting Days are celebrated annually with tree planting as one of the key activities in selected district functions.

A total of 50,000 seedlings are planted annually during these promotional days to raise awareness and back-up support for household uptake on tree planting.

Hon Namayanja is the minister of Information and National Guidance