Farmers told to buy tree seedlings from certified suppliers

Fred Lali the Managing Director of Earth consult (L) holding a drone explaining to Leonidas Hitimana(C) how a drone can be used in the forest sector

KAMPALA, Uganda-Ugandans  intending to venture into commercial tree farming  have been advised to source tree seedlings from only certified  nursery  dealers  to avoid planting substandard tree seedlings.

The call was made by the Food and Agriculture organization of the United Nations for Sawlog Production Grant Scheme (SPGS) Leonidas Hitimana during the Uganda Timber Growers Association (UTGA) 5th Annual Forestry Fair at the City Royal Resort Hotel in Bugolobi a Kampala suburb.

Hitimana said planting tree seedlings from non-certified sources can affect the development of the sector and the business venture because most of the non-certified dealers sell substandard tree seedlings which after maturity, produce poor quality wood.

“If you want value for your money in commercial tree farming, we advise you to plant tree seedlings from only certified nurseries.  As FAO we have certified over 40 tree nursery dealers across the country through them Commercial tree farmers can access quality tree seedlings instead of buying tree seedlings from road side Nursery tree seedling’s sellers” he said.

Hitimana noted that FAO through the SPGS project phase III is committed to support investors wishing to venture into commercial forestry across the country under co- financing arrangement to both those involved in farming and wood processing.

He said under the third phase, FAO will invest more resources in forestry research such that new technologies are made available to commercial forestry farmers.

Through the SPGS , those wishing to venture into commercial forestry business  are provided with technical support inform of trainings  on how to  establish good plantations and later FAO technical people  will cost dealers on how much a good plantation will cost.

According to reports from UTGA Uganda has about 450 commercial tree farmers assign which shows that more Ugandans are picking interest in commercial forestry. But the Coordinator told East African Business Week that more interventions are needed from government especially on policy issues.

He said for the Ugandan commercial tree farmers to benefit from their investment, government should guarantee market for the wood products.

“You cannot venture into wood value addition when you’re not sure of the availability of the market for the processed products. Thus for the sector to grow, government should come up with policies that protect the local investors in the sector” he said.

James Ngobi, a tree farmer from Eastern Uganda, he said government should subsidize the cost for pesticides because they are very expensive.

During the event, various players in the forest sector exhibited various products from wood, current technology available on the market to support commercial tree farmers including drones that can be used in evaluation of forest cover.