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Namanve forest loses ‘80 hectares’ to land grabbers

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Some of the trees that were cut down in Namave forest on July 16. Photo | Damali Mukhaye 

By Damali Mukhaye

A section of tree farmers who were given licences by the National Forestry Authority (NFA) to plant trees in Namanve Forest Reserve have raised the red flag after unknown people destroyed their trees without their knowledge.

The secretary general of the Namanve tree farmers group, Mr Wilson Rubayiza, told Daily Monitor yesterday in an interview that a number of unknown people have been claiming to have land titles in the forest reserve since 2016.
“They usually come at night, but for the recent one, they came when it was raining. Government should come to our rescue because we are also local investors,” he said.

The incident happened last week on Thursday when unknown people came and destroyed 10 hectares of trees.
Mr Rubayiza said in total, 80 hectares of trees have been destroyed since 2016 and nothing has been done to stop the land grabbers from taking government land.
Mr Rubayiza also said it is evident that some people in ‘big offices’ are involved in the land grabbing because their plight has gone unresolved for years.

Tree farming licences
“We were licensed by the forest department and later taken up by NFA to grow trees. We have been growing trees in compartment 8, 9 and 14. It is the government that brought us here, so why should someone come claiming the land that belongs to the government?” Mr Rubayiza said.
Mr Joram Gayola, one of the growers, said seven hectares of his trees worth Shs70 million, were cut down last week on Thursday.

Mr Gayola said he got his licence to plant trees in the forest reserve in 2005 and he has been paying Shs50,000 to NFA per hectare, per year as ground rent.
“We do not know who is destroying our trees. We are not safe anymore because we do not know where they are going to destroy next. No one has a right to cut down our trees,” he said.

Paul Lunakwita, another tree grower, said his five hectares were cleared in 2016 by unknown people and to date, he has not gotten any compensation.
He said if the government wants to take back the land, they should come out in the open, compensate the tree farmers and take over the land officially.
According to one of the licences Daily Monitor has seen between NFA and Paul Lunakwita, the grower was given 10 hectare of land to plant trees and his licence expires in 2032.

When contacted by the Daily Monitor yesterday, the executive director of NFA, Mr Tom Obong Okello, said he is aware that the trees were destroyed last week and he was heading to the police to have this resolved.
The NFA boss said part of this forest reserve was given to Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) and the other part is supposed to be a forest reserve.

“I am aware of that situation and there are some issues that have not been resolved because there are people claiming that land. They are saying the land belongs to them but as NFA, that land belongs to the government,” Mr Okello said.

“When I got a call last week that there were people cutting trees, I called the police and they intervened and arrested all the people who were cutting the trees. I am going to meet them at the police station right now and we have to go on the ground and ascertain what they are talking about,” he added.

Hopeful
When I got a call last week that there were people cutting trees, I called the police and they intervened and arrested all the people who were cutting the trees. I am going to meet them at the police station right now and we have to go on the ground and ascertain what they are talking about,” Mr Tom Obong Okello, the executive director of NFA.

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Anti-tick vaccine drive gives hope to farmers

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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

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Farmers fail to access farm inputs on Ministry e-platform

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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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Farmers on alert as new banana virus hits Western Uganda

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Farmers should stop getting banana plantlets from districts in Western and North-West Uganda to stop the spread of the Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV) disease, Hebert Musiimenta, the Principal Agricultural Inspector in the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries-MAAIF has advised.

The Banana Bunchy Top Virus was first observed in the western Uganda districts in late 2020. In July this year, the ministry raised a red flag when the disease caused havoc on banana plantations in West Nile, Rwenzori and Tooro regions.

An infected plant presents with severe stunting, narrow leaves, chlorotic leaf margins, and dark green streaks on petioles and midribs. The affected plant also shows a rosette-like or bunchy and choked appearance. Diseased plants rarely produce fruit and when they do, the fruit is stunted and twisted.

The disease is spread by aphids and the planting of affected tubers.

The disease has the capacity to wipe out banana gardens within 3 to 5 years unless farmers practice the control measures such as the proper destruction of affected stems, control of aphids, and planting clean materials.

Hebert Musiimenta, Principal Agricultural Inspector in the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), says to contain the spread of the disease, farmers should stop getting banana planting materials from Nebbi, Zombo, Arua, Maracha, and Koboko districts in North-West Uganda and Bunyangabu, Kasese, Kabarore, and Bundibugyo districts in Western Uganda.

He also advises the farmers to be cautious about planting materials from Kisoro, Kabale, Ntungamo, and Isingiro districts since they are near the border.  The disease is suspected to have spread to Uganda from the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda. Musiimenta advised farmers in an interview with URN that if they are to pick planting materials, they should first consult agriculture officers in their areas to recommend safe planting materials.

Musimenta revealed that a team of officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries, and Fisheries is investigating the prevalence of the virus in Kigezi region specifically districts neighboring Rwanda and DR Congo.

He says the disease has the capacity to wipe out banana gardens within 3 to 5 years unless farmers practice the control measures such as the proper destruction of affected stems, control of aphids, and planting clean materials.

Original Source: URN via The independent

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