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Oil Palm Growers Under Scrutiny for Forest Destruction

oil palm growers under scrutiny for forest destruction
oil palm growers under scrutiny for forest destruction

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In recent developments, concerns have been raised about the impact of oil palm cultivation on forests and the environment. Oil palm growers, particularly in Kalangala and other districts like Buvuma, Mukono, Masaka, Kyotera, and Mayuge, are being closely monitored for their environmental practices.

Solidaridad, an international organization, is planning to train 650 unit leaders on sustainable palm oil management practices, climate-conscious agriculture, carbon farming, and trade. They aim to integrate agroforestry practices into oil palm production.

The National Oil Palm Project (NOPP) is addressing concerns over farmers planting oil palm in buffer zones, especially in Kalangala. A buffer zone is an area designated for environmental protection, and any human activities within the 200-meter buffer zone require clearance from the National Environment Management (Nema).

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The environment health and safety manager at NOPP, Mr. Robert Aguma, pointed out the depletion of the environment in buffer zones and the rising water levels in Lake Victoria. He mentioned that farmers in buffer zones are being identified, mapped, and sensitized on management practices to mitigate their impact on the environment.

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To protect water quality in Lake Victoria, oil palm farmers will be educated on the sustainable use of buffer zones and discouraged from applying fertilizers within the 200-meter zone. In Buvuma, efforts are underway to open boundaries and mark central forest reserves.

Mr. Aguma advised that in areas where oil palm trees have already been planted, such as Kalangala, farmers should consider uprooting and replanting in other areas.

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The government has enlisted the services of Solidaridad East & Central Africa, an international network organization with the goal of developing a modern oil palm industry that adheres to contemporary environmental and social standards.

Kalangala District chairperson Rajab Ssemakula expressed concern about farmers planting oil palm and rice within buffer zones, wetlands, and clearing forests without regard for environmental protocols. Efforts are underway to educate and guide farmers towards more sustainable practices.