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FAO, EU and Government of Uganda launch phase III of commercial forestry project

FAO Country Representative Mr. Alhaji Jallow (L), Ms. Michelle Labeeu, the Head of Cooperation at the European Union in Uganda (C) and Minister for Water and Environment Hon. Sam Cheptoris (R) during the launch of SPGS III
21/07/2016

 

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the European Union and the Government of Uganda have today jointly launched the third phase of the Sawlog Production Grant Scheme (SPGS III) aimed at consolidating gains of SPGS II while mitigating the effects of climate change through intensive afforestation.

By July 2020, the 55-month project is expected to have established close to 32,000 hectares of commercial timber and bio-energy plantations while integrating research for development of plantations, processing and value addition, utilization and market with emphasis on coordinated commercial forestry processes and services.

SPGS III is a project of the Government of Uganda funded by the European Union to a tune of UGX 60 Billion and an additional UGX 144 million for technical staff support from FAO, and counterpart financing from the Government of Uganda estimated annually at UGX 878 million, that is intended to help meet the medium and long-term industrial and market demand for sawlog products in Uganda.

The Minister for Water and Environment Hon. Sam Cheptoris, while launching the project in at Ferdsult Forest Plantation in Lugazi, Buikwe District, said that SPGS III is timely given that it comes at a time when forest cover is drastically reducing at an annual rate of 120,000 hectares.

“We are now witnessing the effects of climate change as a result of mass deforestation.  I call upon every one of us to do something to green the environment by averting the alarming rate of deforestation and reverse the ongoing rampant clearing of forests for charcoal by encouraging people to grow their own forests for wood,” Hon Cheptoris said.

The Minister further stated that Uganda is predicted to be water stressed by 2025 and that this will drastically impact agricultural production, food security, biomass, water supply, energy production, infrastructure, health systems, incomes, livelihoods and overall development if no action is taken now.

The Head of Cooperation at the European Union Delegation in UgandaMs. Michelle Labeeu commended the Government of Uganda for the successful execution of SPGS I and II which she said fully demonstrated that commercial forestry is a viable agribusiness.

“Both phases provided learning experiences for the stakeholders, most of which will guide the new phase,” she noted, adding that SPGS III will address processing and value addition especially for the plantations established in phase I which are due for harvesting.

She lauded FAO’s high level of expertise and experience in forestry and programme implementation and a management – a combination that is expected to deliver excellently in the new phase.

For the European Union, the initiative is important because it provides an alternative source of timber and other forestry products leading to reduced pressure on natural forests.

The FAO Country Representative Mr. Alhaji M. Jallow said that the new phase of SPGS will see Uganda benefit from a sustainable supply of high quality sawlogs for timber and poles, and less reliance on imported products, while at the same time increasing incomes of the rural populace, which FAO believes will free people from hunger and malnutrition.

“SPGS III will be promoting commercial tree planting by small, medium and large scale growers, and community groups to increase their income, while at the same time helping to mitigate the effects of climate change,” he noted.

Mr. Jallow further appreciated the funding from the European Union, and the trust vested in FAO for the execution of this national project whose value added will include research and development for seed improvement of both the indigenous and exotic tree species to ensure production of high quality sawlogs.