Oil Palm growers tipped on environmental protection

Palm oil trees in the buffer zone in Kalangala District. Photo | Jessica Sabano 

What you need to know:

  • The palm oil project is targeted in five districts including Kalangala, Buvuma, Mukono, Masaka and Mayuge.

Environmental experts have expressed concern over the disappearing forest cover and the increasing change in land use where large pieces have illegally been converted into farmland.

This was in Kalangala during the launch of the National Oil Palm Project (NOPP), the environmental, social and sustainability component by Solidaridad an international Civil Society Organization last Friday.

The palm oil project is targeted in five districts including Kalangala, Buvuma, Mukono, Masaka and Mayuge.

Mr Robert  Charles Aguma, the environment and safety manager of NOPP in the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), said that farmers who have planted in buffer zones, especially in Kalangala have largely affected the environment.

"Water levels have risen, we no longer see the original lowest water marks of the lake, where we see the water now is not where it was originally. We are doing interventions to restore, the environment," he said.

"We do not want to affect the quality of water in the lake, and also looking at maintaining the cover crop to avoid the erosion of silt into the lake and not to apply fertilizers, and agro-chemicals in the 200-meter zones," Mr Aguma added.

The Kalangala District chairman, Mr Rajab Ssemakula said that farmers have been planting within the buffer zones, and wetlands and clearing forests for oil palmgrowing forgetting to protect the environment.

He applauded Solidaridad for coming in to rescue and restore these areas noting that through training/sensitization of farmers, they will be able to understand the concept and care for the environment as they grow the oil palm.

The country manager of Solidaridad, Mr David Kyeyune said they were selected by the government of Uganda to come and mainstream the environment and social sustainability in oil palm production.

"We are looking at the integration of Agro-forestry practices in the oil Palm production to improve productivity, protect the soil also improve biomass," he said.