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“The Tree Planting Initiative in Bunyoro Sub region”

Deforestation is defined as a decrease in forest areas across the world that are lost for other uses such as agricultural croplands, urbanization, or mining activities climate change which is the long-term alteration of temperature and typical weather patterns are among the most dangerous and risk causing factors threatening the survival of human beings and other ecosystems. The role forests play in ensuring the stability of life cannot be questioned especially in preventing calamitous climate change with just a simple process of absorbing and storing carbon. Surprisingly, Ugandans have not given these two issues the attention they deserve and do not realize that deforestation is outrageously high and the responsible parts among which major policy and institutions are not swinging into action to change the status quo. For instance, the expanding agricultural sector is responsible for over 70 per cent of deforestation in the country posing a big challenge in the grassroots communities. Areas like Kasese, Karamoja, the Masaka-Mbarara cattle corridor, West Nile and generally the whole country are experiencing devastating results of deforestation and climate change.

Discontinuing deforestation and restoring damaged forests and wetlands to at least 50 per cent could provide immediate solutions in the present and future climate partners, which would eventually provide more opportunities for biodiversity and environmental sustainability.

It was from this background that Uganda National Farmers Federation (UNFFE) in partnership with Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom (BKK) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate a professional working partnership between the two institutions and enhance the efforts in mobilizing, organizing, empowering, coordinating, resource mobilizing and speaking on behalf of farmers within the Kingdom area of jurisdiction.

This was signed in March 2021 and since then, have purposed to work together in pursuit of environmental sustainability, heritage, agribusiness development, agriculture, animal industry and fisheries development within the kingdom. It is from this basis that the Kingdom and the Farmers’ Federation have jointly pursued a partnership with the Ministry of Water and Environment, which has supported them with 1,000,000M tree seedlings.

Together the two institutions have managed to secure 200,000 tree seedlings out of the planned 1,000,000 to support the initiative. This tree planting initiative feeds into the strategy to implement the Parish Development Model, which focuses on grassroots community development.

The 200,000 tree seedlings have been secured for the Districts of Masindi, Hoima, Kakumiro, Kibale, Kiryandongo, Kagadi, Buliisa and Kikuube situated in the counties of Buhaguzi, Bugangaizi East and Bugangaizi West, Buyaga West and Buyaga East, and Bugahya including Hoima City. These seedlings were distributed accordingly in the districts as mentioned above through the structures of Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom and Uganda National Farmers Federation membership- the District Farmers’ Associations.

Through the BKK, the councillors at the different counties generated the lists and distributed while for UNFFE, the District Farmers Associations (DFAs) distributed the seedlings.

All the 200,000 tree seedlings were distributed to the farmers, through group, institutional and individual distribution strategies.

The team of UNFFE represented by Kawumi Perez the Deputy CEO and Prudence Aijuka Policy and Advocacy Manager, and the kingdom represented by Hon Byaruhanga Jackson sampled more than twenty farmers in the eight districts to find out lessons from the distribution process. Among those that received the seedlings were farmers, churches, farmer groups, schools, hospitals, and other community leaders.

The sampled places included Kakindo in Kakumiro District, Mabaale in Kagadi, Masindi Municipality, Buswekera in Hoima, Kaigo in Kikuube. Sampled farmers expressed their gratitude to the team that visited them to follow up on the tree planting progress, and they indicated that it was rare for them to receive people following up on the distributed items, thus they appreciated the partnership. They thanked the Kingdom and UNFFE for their support and pledged that they would take good care of the trees provided.

From the evidence, the majority of the farmers were given fewer trees than they expected since the available species for distribution were few, however they were promised that in the coming season, they would receive more so they needed to prepare. Among the received species by the majority of the farmers were Musizi, Mahogany, Misusa, Mvule, Gravellier although few farmers accepted some eucalyptus seedlings.

The partnership between UNFFE and BKK on landscape restoration is a key deal to help in sustainability of the environment. Approaches like Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) and extension services need to be combined especially in places where the trees may be difficult to grow. As UNFFE, we are happy to extend a vote thanks to Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Water and Environment, BBK, our member associations and other stakeholders who have joined this initiative to save our motherland.

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