Busoga: Sugarcane growers launch tree planting campaign to conserve environment

Bugiri, (UG): Sugarcane growers in the Busoga sub-region have embarked on planting trees as a way of rehabilitating and protecting the environment targeting not less than four acres in each district found in the sub-region.

Through their umbrella body, Busoga Sugarcane Growers Forum, they launched the initiative of rehabilitating the environment via planting trees at the function held on Wednesday, November 8, 2023, at Naigaga primary school, Nabukalu sub-county in Bugiri district. 

The Patron of the forum who doubles as the Secretary in the office of National Resistance Movement (NRM) National Vice Chairperson at Kyambogo Ms Sarah Mpongo said they have secured some pieces of land from the district chairpersons and a security team led by RDCs where they are going to plant trees.

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“…in each district, we’re going to plant not less than four acres per district and these acres of land have been given to us by the district chairpersons and the security team led by RDCs. We’re trying to showcase to the government and the people we live among that actually we don’t mean bad as sugarcane growers, so give us your land and we plant for you trees to rehabilitate the environment,” Ms. Mpongo said.

Mpongo says people have been looking at sugarcane growers in Busoga as the major enemies to the environment in the subregion and this stirred them up to form an association which targets environmental rehabilitation by teaching their members about the importance of environmental protection and conservation. 

“Since most people have been saying that sugarcane growers have destroyed the environment in Busoga, we have come up with Busoga sugarcane growers forum and we have started teaching people on how to rehabilitate the environment by planting trees,” Ms Sarah Mpongo stated.

Ms. Sarah Mpongo while addressing sugarcane growers on Wednesday

Ms Mpongo urged people with small pieces of land which is less than four acres to forego sugarcane growing and embark on the presidential initiative of the four-acre model project by growing crops and rearing animals.

One of the purposes of launching the initiative according to her is to educate people that it’s key to grow crops alongside sugarcane planting.

The Chairperson of the Sugarcane Growers Forum Mr. Moses Kanunu says they realized it necessary to restore the environment by planting trees since it helps them as farmers in getting enough rainfall. 

“Although we grow sugarcane and other crops, we need rainfall and this will only be realized when the environment is rehabilitated through planting trees. We have the most precious product (Sugar) on the international market and it was necessary to challenge those who have been accusing us of destroying the environment,” Mr Kanunu said. 

He emphasized other activities alongside sugarcane growing especially setting up fish ponds for fish farming, growing other crops for food, and rearing birds and animals, among others.

Mr Kanunu commended and pledged support to the government of Uganda for simplifying the process by allowing them to sell sugarcane to Kenya and expanding the capacity of sugar factories to consume more sugarcane than before, to an extent that they no longer need permits to sell their crop.

A section of sugarcane growers who attended the launch at Naigaga primary school in Bugiri district

DailyExpress approached a section of sugarcane growers in the association and they testified about the benefits of growing sugarcane, especially the women who have managed to meet among others domestic needs. They decried the challenges of accessing land for renting which is cost-friendly.

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“As women, we have registered development in growing sugarcane both in families and communities. We can now pay school fees for our children, meet basic needs and pay rent but the challenge we have is that people are asking a lot of money to rent their land which limits the acres we use,” Ms. Samanya Mariam from Iganga said.

She rallied the government of Uganda to support them by injecting money into sugarcane associations at district or sub-regional levels citing that they have since failed to see the money which the government puts in some associations. 

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