Commercial tree nursery operators receive certification

Operators of tree nurseries, under SPGS III were recognized for maintaining high quality standards in tree seedling production, at a meeting held in July 2017 at Silver Springs Hotel in Bugolobi, Kampala.

The meeting was attended by at least 100 nursery operators from different parts of the country, who had participated in the nursery certification exercise, offering an opportunity for feedback on the certification activity. A total of 66 nurseries which met the minimum score during the audits received certification. Participants shared experiences, highlights, and lessons learnt from the certification audits/assessments.

Present were officials from: National Forestry Authority (NFA), Uganda Timber Growers’ Association (UTGA), National Forestry Resources Research Institute (NaFORRI), the Forest Sector Support Division (FSSD) of the Ministry of Water and Environment and suppliers of tree nursery chemicals and equipment.

At the meeting, the certified nursery operators were also informed about the seedling supply opportunities to the SPGS III community and woodlot beneficiaries. During SPGS Phase III, the project intends to support the procurement of over seven million seedlings to be supplied to community groups and woodlot institutions. Other issues discussed at the meeting were: the importance of raising seedlings sourced from approved sources and the different pests and diseases that affect seedlings (identification, prevention, symptoms and control measures).

In his speech, read by the Director for Environmental Affairs at the Ministry of Water and Environment, Paul Mafabi, the Permanent Secretary, Alfred Okot Okidi appreciated the nursery operators' efforts and contribution towards government’s afforestation programmes and mitigating the challenges of drought and reduction in fuel wood through supply of high quality planting materials. He pledged government’s support towards development of commercial tree nurseries and lauded the FAO and the European Union for their technical and financial support respectively.

Leonidas Hitimana- FAO/SPGS III Project Coordinator, who also represented the FAO Representative - Alhaji Jallow, thanked the nursery operators for their commitment to quality standards. He noted that the project targets to ensure that 30 000 hectares of trees are planted, through its support to commercial forest tree planters, woodlots for institutions, and community groups. Therefore, nursery operators are a critical group that will ensure supply of high quality seedlings. Furthermore, UTGA General Manager, Denis Kavuma urged the nursery operators to coalesce into an organization through which they can benefit from collective bargaining, collective marketing, and synchronized pricing for stronger synergies. Finally, Charles Byaruhanga from FSSD noted that Government, through the Uganda National Bureau of Standards, plans to include nursery certification guidelines in the national standards for nursery and forest operations.

In tandem with promoting good nursery operations, a session on common pests and diseases of trees in the nursery was delivered by Peter Kiwuso from NaFORRI. His presentation enlightened participants on best ways to manage pests and diseases. Pastor Michael Aboneka, an operator of three certified seedling nurseries, noted that certification is paramount to guarantee high quality products, sufficient planting materials, and securing market for seedlings.

A call for applications for nursery certification will be made by the end of 2017, followed by a nursery field certification exercise to assess nurseries for the first season of 2018.

Thursday, July 20, 2017