INCREASING PUBLIC AWARENESS ABOUT TREE PLANTING AND FORESTRY DURING 27TH NATIONAL AGRICULTURE SHOW

The SPGS III Project took part in a national exhibition to highlight the contribution of various players in the agriculture and development sectors, as part of the 27th National Agriculture Show held from 13 -21 July 2019 in Jinja, eastern Uganda. The theme for this year’s show was “Agricultural Technology and Innovation for Farmer-led Agro Industrialization”; presenting the Project with an opportunity to interact with show-goers about innovations and good practice in commercial forestry and tree planting. These included using absorbent gels to retain soil water, improved and modern nursery management practices, enhancing wood processing efficiency, timber value addition and recommended forest establishment and management practices.

The Project also used this platform to increase public awareness about the importance of accessing quality-planting material for forest establishment. Consequently, the Project team distributed a range of information material, including lists of certified nursery operators and contractors throughout the country, which the Project recommends to new and existing growers. As part of efforts to enhance quality forest plantation establishment, the FAO/SPGS III project conducts an annual voluntary certification programme for private forest service providers (nursery operators and forest contractors). Through this programme, participating tree nurseries and contractors are audited and given certification based on compliance with a set of quality standards. The Project is currently working with the Forest Sector Support Department of the Ministry of Water and Environment, and other players, to nationalize the tree nursery management guidelines, with the aim of widely promoting good tree nursery management practices.

While officiating at the opening ceremony, Prime Minister of Uganda, Rt. Honourable Ruhakana Rugunda, who represented President Yoweri Museveni, commended the Uganda National Farmers Federation (UNFFE) for creating such a platform to display and share information on agricultural innovation in the country. Honourable Rugunda called on stakeholders in the agriculture sector to adopt modern technology in order to advance agriculture and increase the country’s competitive advantage, especially on regional and international markets.

“Stakeholders should think holistically while embracing the fourth industrial revolution because new technologies should help all our people to produce goods and services according to our comparative advantage”, he said.

Also at the Show, the project team interacted with institutions and community groups, which expressed interest in benefiting from the FAO/SPGS III support to woodlot establishment through provision of seedlings. The project recognizes that rural communities and institutions are major consumers of forest products, especially fuel wood, and so through the project, FAO seeks to support establishment of 2 500 hectares (ha) of woodlots by institutions and 4 000ha of community forests by 2021. The 27th National Agriculture Show was therefore an important platform to interest rural communities and institutions such as schools, in tree planting.

FAO is cognizant of the fact that forests, established and managed well, are key to transforming communities, enhancing sustainable development, achieving inclusive growth through narrowing the inequality gap, addressing climate change and bolstering healthy and sustainable cities.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, FAO Representative in Uganda, Antonio Querido reiterated the organization’s “commitment to supporting the government of Uganda in unleashing the potential of the agriculture sector and paving the way for achieving middle-income status”, including promoting the use of digital technology in agriculture and forestry.

The Source of the Nile National Agricultural Show is the largest of its kind in Uganda and is an annual event that has been held since 1990, attracting an annual average of 350 agricultural exhibitors from different parts of the country and beyond. This year’s agriculture show was attended by farmers, representatives of Non- Governmental Organizations, government agencies, research organizations, academic institutions, value chain actors such as seed companies and financial service providers among others.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019