KAABONG, Uganda (Xinhua) --
Battered by the harsh climate change effects
coupled with animal-human conflicts, locals in the semi-arid
northeastern Uganda have resorted to commercial tree farming as
a new livelihood.
pastoralists, turned crop farmers, many villagers here are
turning to tree farming to beat the harsh climate change effects
and conflict with animals.
The locals’ farm
land borders the Kidepo National Park. Because of this,
elephants, warthogs and other animals easily cross to their
gardens, leaving everything destroyed.
occasions I have planted crops like sorghum, sun flower and
maize on commercial scale on this land. But you wake up one
morning to find the wild animals have eaten up and destroyed
crops on a huge stretch of the garden,” Doreen Imen told Xinhua
in an interview recently.
As a way of
co-existence with the wild, the UN Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO) is helping the villagers plant trees.
On her 16.5 hectares
of land, Imen is establishing a commercial tree plantation
comprising of Melia voklensi and Grevillea Robusta tree species.
The 16.5 hectares will take up 45,551 tree seedlings.
elephants are the deadliest. A single herd of elephants could
destroy a huge stretch of crops. The trees I’m planting are not
palatable to the wildlife. But they are a reliable long-term
investment. I have already prepared the land for the trees,”
Through a 15 million
U.S. dollars initiative, FAO, the European Union and the Uganda
government are spearheading a countrywide campaign to promote
commercial tree planting.
The initiative is
aimed at mitigating the impact of climatic change as well as
enhancing the earnings of households through trade in timber.
The scheme provides
both quality tree seedlings and advisory services to
To qualify for the
grant as a commercial tree planter, a beneficiary must possess a
minimum of 15 hectares of land dedicated to the establishment of
a forest plantation. The maximum area that can be funded by the
scheme is 3,000 hectares.
Elsewhere in Uganda
the scheme has helped establish over 50,000 hectares of
plantations for timber, poles and fuel wood since its inception
In this part of the
country also known as Karamoja sub region, it is the first time
it is being established.
“Given the fact that
this area is semi-arid and the rate at which the forests are
cleared for various purposes is high, we felt this was worrying.
We focused our attention here and sent out the second round of
invitation for applicants in May. A total of 50 applications
were received out of which 36 qualified,” Leonidas Hitimana, the
FAO project coordinator told Xinhua.
Hitimana said the
target for Karamoja is to reach 1,000 hectares by 2020.
FAO is supplying the
farmers with drought-tolerant tree species to mitigate the risk
of erratic weather conditions in the area.
Andrew Napaja, the
Moroto district chairperson said that getting residents within
Karamoja sub region into the habit of planting trees will
require concerted effort from all fronts.
“Not many people
know the benefits of planting trees. Here, trees grow freely in
the wild. Anybody who needs a tree just goes and picks at no
cost. Technical people need to come out regularly and explain to
the people the dangers of cutting trees and benefits of planting
them. We are facing frequent annual food shortages here. We need
trees more than any part of this country,” Napaja said.