Government has received the first consignment of oil palm seedlings from Colombia to support the establishment of oil palm nursery beds on Buvuma Islands.
The first consignment contains 70,000 seedlings out of the 2.5 million ordered by the government. The seedlings will be planted in Buvuma and Mayuge districts.
Last year, the Ministry of Agriculture embarked on preparation of the site at Buwangwe Village, Busamuzi Sub–county, Buvuma District where nursery beds will be set up.
The plan to grow oil palm on Buvuma Island is part of the Vegetable Oil Development Project (VODP).
It is implemented by Oil Palm Uganda Ltd (OPUL), a subsidiary of Bidco Uganda, which manages oil palm plantations on Bugala Islands in Kalangala District.
Ms Connie Magomu Masaba, the VODP manager, said the first consignment arrived in the country on April 14, and has already been dispatched to Buvuma.
“We are expecting another consignment of about 120,000 seedlings next month and our plan is to have enough seedlings in 12 months when we hope to start growing oil palm on a large scale on Buvuma Islands,” Ms Masaba said on Wednesday.
She added that other seedlings will be planted in the nucleus estate owned by OPUL.
In an earlier interview, Ms Masaba told Daily Monitor that outgrowers will receive seedlings and fertilisers on loan and they will pay back at the time of harvesting.
“Government has borrowed money from the International Fund for Agricultural Development to support outgrowers by providing them with necessary items such as pesticides and fertilisers,” she said recently.
Ms Masaba said although their initial target was to get 10,000 hectares of land, they settled for 7,500 hectares of which 2,500 are for outgrowers, adding that the latter will be got in Mayuge, Buikwe and Mukono districts.
Residents given two weeks to leave land
Ms Agnes Nabirye, the Buvuma Resident District Commissioner, said local leaders were happy that the project had finally kicked off.
“We have been waiting for this project for a long time and some residents had even lost hope. I am sure our people, especially the youth who had abandoned fishing, are going to be employed because many are currently jobless,” Ms Nabirye said.
However, she issued a two-week ultimatum to residents who received compensation, but are hesitant to vacate their bibanja (plots) to allow smooth implementation of the project. “Those who received government money and are still occupying the land, let them vacate within two weeks before we use force,” Ms Nabirye said. According to government’s plan, more than 3,000 people are expected to be employed by the project at the nucleolus estate, nursery beds and milling factory. Oil palm growing will mainly be carried out in Buwoya, Busamuzi, Nayirambi sub-counties and part of Buvuma Town Council, according to the RDC.