Conservationists in Uganda have condemned as “shallow and absurd” a court ruling that authorised the government to allow swathes of a tropical forest to be cleared for a sugar-cane plantation.
Three environmental groups had taken the government to court over a decision to allow Hoima Sugar Ltd to build on 5,500 hectares (13,500 acres) in the Bugoma Forest Reserve.
Alongside sugar, the firm plans to build schools, a market and a hospital, as well as develop an ecotourism centre.
The Water & Environment Media Network, the National Association of Professional Environmentalists and the Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO) filed a lawsuit against the government’s environmental agency, the National Environment Management Authority (Nema), and the company in September.
The contested land was leased to Hoima Sugar in 2016 by Solomon Iguru Gafabusa, king of the ancient kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara, who said the land was ancestral and not part of the protected forest.
Last week, Justice Musa Ssekaana, head of the high court civil division, threw out the case. He said it was based on unsubstantiated allegations to win public sympathy and mislead the court.
“It appears the applications in this matter were premised on distorted facts and the applicants have attempted to suppress the real facts in order to make a ‘flowery’ case in court by exaggerating that the entire forest is being cleared for sugar-cane planting,” said Ssekaana in his ruling.
Dickens Kamugisha, chief executive of AFIEGO, said: “The whole ruling is very shallow and absurd. The judge completely failed to appreciate the legal questions relating to the issues to be determined.”
Robert Akugizibwe, secretary of the Association for the Conservation of Bugoma Forest, said: “We express our dissatisfaction that once again a court of law is wasting an opportunity to clear the ground on the shameful matters related to the destruction of Bugoma forest.”
The reserve, 155 miles (250km) north-west of the capital, Kampala, covers more than 40,000 hectares (100,000 acres). It is the largest remaining block of natural tropical forest along the Albertine rift valley and was due to be designated a national park.
Campaigners said the reserve plays an enormous role in preserving wildlife migration corridors. They plan to appeal against the decision.
The forest is home to more than 34 species of mammals, including nine on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, including grey-cheeked mangabeys and 600 chimpanzees. There are 255 species of birds and 260 species of trees.
Original source: THE GUARDIAN.COM
Farmland values hit record highs, pricing out farmers
Anti-tick vaccine drive gives hope to farmers
Dairy farmers in Ankole Sub-region are optimistic that the anti-tick vaccine launched by the government will solve their problem of tick resistance to acaricides.
For the last 10 years, dairy farmers across the country have decried tick resistance to acaricides, which has been ravaging the livestock sector.
Mr Emmanuel Kyeishe, a resident of Rushere in Kiruhura District and dairy farmer with more than 100 head of cattle, says dairy farmers in the cattle corridor have battled the problem of tick resistance for a long time.
“The issue of ticks has been rampant in the cattle corridor to the extent of losing our cows. We spend a lot on treating them because of ticks since they infect animals with several diseases,” he said.
Mr Kyeishe said he loses at least two cows every month to tick-borne diseases like East Coast Fever and heart water.
“I have lost 180 cows in the last five years due to ticks and tick-borne diseases. If they do not die, they get blind and some lose their skin. But if we get a vaccine, it will have saved us a lot,” he said.
Mr Kyeishe added that he has resorted to mixing agrochemicals with acaricides since the available ones on the market are failing.
Mr Jackson Bells Katongole, a dairy farmer in Kashari, Mbarara District, said if the government’s move to have anti-tick vaccine is successful, quality of dairy products would improve.
“A farmer loses at least two to five cows every month and we have resorted to using different concoctions from Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya because the problem of ticks has made us helpless,” he said.
He added: “We had reached the point of mixing pesticides with acaricides because of tick resistance and in the process our cows have gone blind, lost skin and others died.”
Mr Katongole further said each cow that dies is valued at around Shs2.5 million, which means that a farmer loses Shs5 million every month.
The Mbarara City Veterinary Officer, Dr Andrew Akashaba, said in Mbarara alone, there are about 60,000 head of cattle, mostly exotic breeds which are prone to ticks.
“Most of the exotic breeds of cattle are at a high risk of acquiring ticks and tick borne diseases, which are a major hindrance to livestock development in the cattle corridor,” he said.
Mr Akashaba added that between 2,000 and 3,000 cows die annually in Mbarara alone due to tick-related diseases.
While launching the final clinical trial of anti-tick vaccine manufactured by National Agriculture Research Organisation at Mbarara Zardi on Thursday, the deputy director general and research coordinator, Dr Yona Baguma, assured the farmers that once the vaccine is approved, they will be spraying their cattle against ticks twice in six months as opposed to twice a week.
Original source: Monitor
Farmers fail to access farm inputs on Ministry e-platform
About 3,640 model farmers in Nebbi District, who were registered under the Agricultural Cluster Development Programme (ACDP) to access agricultural inputs on E-voucher, are stuck after failure of the system.
The farmers say the system has affected their planting patterns.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry under the Agriculture cluster Development Programme (ACDP) introduced the e-voucher system five years ago to enable farmers access agricultural inputs electronically.
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