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Destroying Bugoma will block wildlife migration corridor



As the forest thinned, Elephants that used to move back and forth from Queen Elizabeth National Park stopped passing through Bugoma; next will be the chimpanzees if the forest is wiped out.

To appreciate the Save Bugoma Forest campaign , one needs to get its history to know that it is gradually diminishing. Animals are losing their habitat as precious species of trees are felled. Rare bird species have been displaced as the flora and fauna is destroyed. A Vision Group team was on the ground two weeks ago and continues to report what was discovered. 

There is infrastructure (road) for wild animals like elephants moving between Queen Elizabeth National Park and Murchison Falls National Park. The migratory corridor is the infrastructure (road) for wild animals like elephants moving between Queen’s Elizabeth National Park and Murchison Falls National Park. It has existed for centuries. But now the remaining part of it  between Bugoma  and Budongo forests is being destroyed.

To appreciate the Save Bugoma campaign one needs to get the  forest’s history to see it is being depleted. Consequently, animals are losing their habitat, precious species of trees are felled and rare bird species displaced.

The  cutting the forest is also impacting on the environs, triggering climate change. As the Vision Group team moved in the Kisinde sector of the forest near Kabwoya in Kikuube district, dry leaves on the ground made cracking sound, betraying the journalists’ presence.

To avoid being detected by charcoal burners, members of the team had to stealthily walk for a few steps, stop look around before taking the next steps. The smell of burning charcoal wafted through the forest and the mowing sound of power saws echoed deeper in the forest.

The team came across logs left behind by loggers. Probably, they were being prepared for charcoal burning or use as timber. There were also several sites showing evidence of  charcoal burning with mounds  of ash left  after the perpetrators harvesting their loot.  There were no chimpanzees in sight yet this is their home.

Back in time, Kyejonjo, which is now a district, was named after elephants that used to roam in parts of western Uganda from Queen Elizabeth National Park in Kasese district to Bugoma forest in Hoima and Kikuube districts. Moses Adyeri, a resident, says Kyejonjo means ‘a passage for elephants.’

“The elephants do not come to Kyejonjo anymore because it has become a town,” he says, adding that they have been scared away by human activity.

The noise caused by cars prevents some birds and marsh-nesting birds from locating mates and undermines the rearing of young ones.

Sam Mwandah, the executive director of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), says elephants used to move back and forth from Queen Elizabeth National Park through Kibaale to Kyejonjo, which used to have a chain of forests. The elephants would cross into Kagombe and other forest reserves in Bugoma.

Another migratory corridor from Semliki National Park in the western arm of the East African Rift Valley (Albertine Rift) was previously connected to Bugoma. This was a meeting place for elephants and other large mammals, including chimpanzees. As charcoal burning, expansive farmland and human settlement take a toll on the environment, the migratory corridors are shrinking and becoming undesirable routes for animals.

It is going to get worse as Bugoma gets cut down to plant sugarcane.  First, the elephants have been blocked as the forest thinned over the years; next will be the chimpanzees if the forest is wiped out.

Yafesi Kaahwa, a resident of Kabwoya sub-county in Kikuube district, says Bugoma means a place where animals are highly concentrated. From Bugoma, wild animals used to continue moving to Budongo Forest Reserve, which is about 60km away.

The elephants and chimps would continue to Murchison Falls National Park, which is Uganda’s largest protected area. In most cases, big mammals, including the elephants, would make the return journey to Budongo, Bugoma, Kagombe and Kyejonjo to Kibaale and Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Unfortunately, Mwandha says, the migratory corridors have been blocked. Mwandha says this poses danger to wildlife because when animals are cut off from larger habitats, inbreeding sets in.

With the corridors blocked, small populations of chimps cannot easily move to the larger forests such as Bugoma, where their relatives stay.  The constriction also results in the “unwelcome stay of the chimps in the villages” sparking off conflicts between the chimps and the human population.

The chimps that are stuck in the forests are facing two threats. Firstly, the chimps have to turn to farmland and fruits on private land for  food. Secondly, the chimps in smaller communities of less than 200 could suffer from inbreeding and become wiped out in case of a disease outbreak.


As a result of chimps foraging on private land, conflicts with people have escalated, Kasozi Atuhura, the conservation programme officer under Chimpanzee Trust in Hoima, says.

“We have to create awareness among the local communities so we understand chimp behaviour in order to reduce conflicts and fatalities that could occur as a result of attacks,” Atuhura tells the Vision Group team.

He says they are encouraging communities to grow crops that are not palatable to chimpanzees. The crops being promoted include Irish potatoes and soya beans.

Sadly, Atuhura says, the chimps are making attempts to eat the new crops and in some areas, Irish and soya beans have failed to bail out the farmers. An adult chimp requires a minimum of of forest to get enough food, Peter Apell, who works with the Jane Goodall Institute, which promotes understanding and protection of great apes, says.


Atuhura says the restricted movement of chimps is leading to a slow genetic death. This means chimps mate with their close relatives and end up producing weak offspring. The forest patches that used to shelter the big mammals during their migrations have been wiped out of the landscape.

“It is only a few chimps that make an attempt to use them and in many cases, they do not make it to Bugoma,” Atuhura says. Stephen Nyakojo, a resident of  Kabwoya, says the last elephant in the migratory corridor was seen in the 1970s.

“Our parents were fearful of the elephants and used to escort us to the crossing points of the animals,” Nyakojo says.

In Kibaale district, the last attempts by elephants to migrate through parts of Muhoro were in 1978, Yusuf Kasumba, a resident of Muhoro, says. “The elephants attempted to cross from Kyejonjo but they could not proceed as they lost their way, probably because of the human settlements,” he says.


In addition, there was an arm of the migratory corridor that was linking Semliki via Bugoma to Budongo, according to Simon Nampindo, the director of the US-based Wildlife Conservation Society in Uganda.

This is what government agencies, including UWA and NGOs, Wildlife Conservation Society, Jane Goodall Institute, Flora and Fauna International and Chimpanzee Trust are trying to restore.

The land where the migratory corridors were previously sitting belongs to individuals and not the Government. This means that farmers have to be compensated to leave the land for the animals or they have to be persuaded to live with the wild animals.

Apart from unsustainable agriculture and charcoal burning, the forests are being threatened by illegal extraction of timber and mining.

**New Vision

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A corporate cartel fertilises food inflation



Last year’s financial results from the world’s largest fertiliser companies are now in — and it’s a shocker. Given the sky high fertiliser prices of 2022, it was anticipatedthat their revenues would break records, but no one could have predicted this scale of profiteering. As the world grappled with a severe food crisis and farmers saw costs rise, the world’s largest fertiliser firms ramped up their margins and more than tripled their profits from two years ago.

Graph 1

Graph 1 shows the total profits of the big nine fertiliser companies over the past five years. They exponentially grew from an average of around US$14 billion before the Covid-19 pandemic to US$28 billion in 2021 and then to an astounding US$49 billion last year. International agencies like the World Bank blamed the spike in fertiliser prices on the Russian war in Ukraine, resulting in high natural gas prices (used to produce nitrogen fertiliser) from shortages and trade disruptions. But as can be seen in Graph 2, a major part of the story is the monopoly power of the fertiliser companies. These companies increased prices far beyond the increases in production costs and boosted their profit margins to a massive 36% in 2022.
Graph 2
There are signs that fertiliser prices are coming down from their stratospheric heights earlier this year, but the effects of the price spike are still being felt. The high prices and lack of supply in some countries caused farmers to cut fertiliser use, thereby reducing production levels and contributing to an alarming rise in global food insecurity. The high prices also pushed many farmers deeper into debt. Farmers from Cameroon to the U.S. say they are still spending three times as much on fertilisers as they were a few years ago. And in countries where fertilisers are heavily subsidised, the price spike has saddled governments with huge debts. In India alone, the central government’s expenditure on fertiliser subsidies last year surged from US$9.8 billion to US$17.1 billion. People are paying the price for the fertiliser industry’s price gouging.
The costs are also rising for the planet. Chemical fertilisers are a major source of environmental pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, with nitrogen fertilisers alone accounting for one out of every 40 tonnes of annual emissions. New reports from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation and Earth4All, a global collective of leading scientists and economists, make it clear that steep and immediate reductions in global fertiliser use are required to avert catastrophic climate change. Both recommend a near phase-out of nitrogen fertiliser consumption by 2050 (see Graph 3). The idea is not to recklessly crash production levels, but a planned transition toward more sustainable, agroecological farming systems that require less or no fertiliser.
Graph 3
It is increasingly clear that today’s food inflation is a product of both corporate greed and ecological breakdown. Obscene levels of profit-taking by corporations are happening across the food system, from fertilisers to processing to retail, and this is pushing up prices. But the way these corporations organise our food production and distribution is also driving climate change and, undermining the capacity for the global food system to deliver affordable and accessible food, now and over the long term.
Bold new approaches are urgently needed to reign in corporate power in the food system and turn the food crisis around. When it comes to fertilisers, policy actions like windfall taxes and price controls can help. But to deal with both profiteering and environmental catastrophe we need to transition food production to rely far less on chemical fertilisers. The fertiliser industry will be pushing for the opposite when it gathers for its annual meeting in Prague this week, yet around the world there are farmers and rural movements already leading a transition away from chemical fertilisers, with plenty of successful examples to learn from. What’s holding us back is the structural political change needed at all levels to address the excess profiteering from the fertiliser industry, and chart a new path toward more resilient food systems.

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The Black Sea Grain Initiative: When the United Nations Brokers Profits for Corporations, Bankers, and Oligarchs



“I am so moved watching the wheat fill up the hold of the ship. It was the loading of hope for so many around the world,” said United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, as a cargo ship was loaded up with Ukrainian grain in August 2022. Mr. Guterres was launching the Black Sea Grain Initiative, purportedly to prevent famines and a global food crisis by enabling food exports from Ukraine, amidst the Russian military blockade. USAID claimed that the “lifesaving deal”, which was renewed on May 18, 2023, “helps people in need across the globe by delivering desperately needed grains to lower income countries and bringing down food prices.” The European Commission celebrated the initiative as a “a critical step forward in efforts to overcome the global food insecurity caused by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.”

Mr. Guterres’ hope, loaded on the cargo ship, has however since gone missing at sea.

Despite the hype in political circles and the Western media that the Initiative was essential to secure food supply for those in need — particularly in Africa — data released by the United Nations offers a starkly different reality. As of May 2023, only 3 percent of the food commodities exported from Ukraine under the initiative has gone to low-income countries. Out of the 30.3 million tons exported, a mere 2 percent — 625,000 tons — went to the World Food Programme for food aid operations around the globe.

Charts showing grain exports from Ukraine by income group and country.

The top destination for Ukraine’s agricultural exports is the European Union, with China being second. Spain is the largest recipient in Europe. Instead of offering relief, Ukrainian exports are threatening the livelihoods of millions of European farmers — to the extent that Hungary and Poland banned imports from Ukraine in April 2023 to protect their farmers. As Ukraine and the European Commission pressured for the ban to be lifted, Hungarian and Polish farmers pushed back, asking the critical question: Who actually benefits from these exports?

The Oakland Institute’s report, War and Theft: The Takeover of Ukraine’s Agricultural Land, answers the question. It exposed that the producers exporting commodities from Ukraine are mostly large-agribusinesses and oligarchs, associated with European and North American financial interests. Furthermore, the report detailed how these producers are heavily indebted to Western financial institutions, in particular the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Investment Bank (EIB), and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) — the private sector arm of the World Bank. Together, these institutions are major lenders to Ukrainian agribusinesses, with close to US$1.7 billion lent to just six of Ukraine’s largest landholding firms in recent years. Other key lenders are a mix of mainly European and North American financial institutions — both public and private.

Renewing the Black Sea Initiative and maintaining the flow of exports from Ukraine has nothing to do with supporting the struggling Ukrainian farmers or the trumpeted goal to prevent a global food crisis — which has been largely triggered by speculation on global food markets. Food prices skyrocketed when global stocks of cereals were at historically high levels according to the World Bank.

Pretending their goal is to fight world hunger is appallingly deceitful, when, with the Black Sea Grain Initiative, the United Nations has become a business broker for agribusiness corporations. In violation of its values and the principles of the United Nations Charter, together with the Western banks and financial institutions, the United Nations is supporting large food trading companies, oligarchs, and their lenders and shareholders, to sustain export business and grow profits despite the carnage of war.


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Grain trader Cargill faces legal challenge in US over Brazilian soya supply chain



World’s biggest grain trader accused of ‘shoddy due diligence’ on deforestation and alleged rights violations.

The world’s largest grain trader, Cargill, is facing a first-ever legal challenge in the United States over its failure to remove deforestation and human rights abuses from its soya supply chain in Brazil.

ClientEarth, an environmental law organisation, filed the formal complaint on Thursday, accusing Cargill of inadequate monitoring and a laggard response to the decline of the Amazon rainforest and other globally important biomes, such as the Cerrado savannah and the Atlantic Forest.

The case, which was submitted under the guidelines of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, argues that Cargill’s “shoddy due diligence raises the risk that the meat sold in supermarkets across the world is raised on so-called ‘dirty’ soy”. ClientEarth says this breaches the international code on responsible business conduct.

The lawyers behind the complaint have stressed the urgency of the issue because Amazon degradation is approaching a tipping point, after which scientists say the rainforest will turn into dry grassland, emitting vast amounts of carbon dioxide. The Amazon’s sister biome, the Cerrado, has already lost half of its tree cover.

The lawyers say they hope the legal challenge will raise standards at Cargill – which is the biggest privately owned company in the US, with revenues last year of $165bn (£131bn) – and set an example across the industry.

Laura Dowley, a lawyer at ClientEarth, said: “Cargill has vast resources at its disposal to implement due diligence. The technology is already there. We aren’t asking it to do anything it doesn’t have the resources to do. We hope it will show leadership.”

Cargill has promised to be “deforestation-free” in the Amazon and Cerrado by 2025 and completely eradicate deforestation from all its supply chains by 2030. The company says it has put in place a sophisticated monitoring operation at ports, warehouses and other points in its supply chain. ClientEarth said it identified several shortcomings in this system, including a lack of environmental due diligence on:

  • Soya beans bought from third-party traders, which make up 42% of all Brazilian soya Cargill purchases.
  • Soya beans owned by other companies that passes through Cargill ports.
  • Indirect land use change.
  • Soya sourced from the Cerrado savannah.
  • Soya sourced from the Brazilian Atlantic Forest.

ClientEarth also cites reports alleging Cargill suppliers have been involved in rights violations of Indigenous, Afro-Brazilian and other forest-dependent communities.

Cargill told the Guardian it had not seen the full complaint but it had an “unwavering commitment” to eliminate deforestation and conversion in South America. In line with this, it added: “We do not source soy from farmers who clear land in protected areas and have controls in place to prevent non-compliant product from entering our supply chains. If we find any violations of our policies, we take immediate action in accordance with our grievance process.”

The company’s website notes: “Cargill is committed to transforming our agricultural supply chains to be free of deforestation by 2030. Our policy on forests lays out our overarching approach to achieving this target globally across our priority supply chains. It is founded on our belief that farming and forests can and must coexist.” A spokesperson added that Cargill was also “strongly committed” to protecting human rights in its operations, supply chains and communities.

However, journalists revealed last year that one of Cargill’s soya suppliers grows crops on land deforested and burned in the Brazilian biome. In 2020, the Guardian and partners uncovered evidence that Cargill supplied Tesco, Asda, McDonald’s, Nando’s and others with chicken fed on imported soya linked to thousands of forest fires and at least 300 sq miles (800 sq km) of tree clearance in the Cerrado savannah. Similar reports were broadcast this year by Sky News.

Source: The Guardian

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