Sixty farmers enrolled for tree planting
Under the British American Tobacco Biodiversity Partnership Project, the Tropical Biology Association, Tree Talk and Nature Uganda, together with 60 farmers, are aiming to plant 1.2 million trees grown across a period of three years says Gaster Kiyingi, Manager of Tree Talk.
Kiyingi says, “This is an opportunity to work with a different set of beneficiaries. We are working with tobacco farmers, who understand its negative effects on the environment and have the willingness and self drive to plant trees”
Sixty (60) tobacco farmers and 30 schools in four districts of Apac, Oyam, Kole and part of Gulu have been enrolled, trained and will be provided with the seedlings to grow trees alongside cultivation of crops.
Michael Odida, farmer leader in Opit says, "Our farmers are ready. The seedlings which were distributed last season created a lot interest among the farmers. Now that there are enough seedlings in the nurseries, we should cover our gardens with trees".
It is anticipated that this will in the long run help to provide alternative sources of firewood for household requirements, income from sale of poles and timber as well as biomass for curing tobacco.
Otim Jwinya, head of farmers in Ngai sub-county says, “Most of the farmers are willing to plant trees since there is plenty of unused land in Ngai. The framers have their land ready. We are talking of each farmer planting about 2 – 3 acres of land.”
There is overwhelming interests from farmers, even outside the project cells. The plan is to support the targeted farmers first and then look into "adopting" more farmers.
One mechanism for making sure we meet the interest of the farmers is running own nurseries and maintain a constant supply of seedlings. Tree Talk has established 3 large nurseries at Ngai, Inomo and Opit; each capable of producing 200,000 seedlings per season. Tree Talk is confident that there will be enough seedlings to meet the obligation but also meet the interests of the "adopted" farmers.
Dorcus Angole, Tree Talk Coordinator, Lira, emphasizes, “It is important to have nurseries because they help in raising the seedlings, farmers receive them on time, and the cost of raising them is cheaper.”
Managing nurseries within the project area has also been an employment opportunity for community members. “Nursery attendants earn wages, community members that do casual work such as potting can meet their subsistence needs, they get skills and knowledge which they can apply elsewhere and above all they get seedlings to plant trees of their own,” adds Angole.
Most of the farmers have expressed interest in planting exotic species. But with clarification of the intentions of the project, the farmers are getting to grips with the concept of ecosystem services restoration and are willing to plant indigenous trees. Indigenous trees have a big biodiversity pull, and offer quick results in ecosystem restoration.
Wilderness, South Africa