This year, we supported ten partner nurseries in raising seedlings for the March-May planting season in Uganda. The seedling distribution process started with counting all the seedlings raised in partner nurseries in order to ascertain which and how many of those were viable and ready for planting in the various fields, which are located in multiple districts districts around the country.
A total of 160,000 seedlings were distributed to farmers from seven districts (Hoima, Kikuube, Kibaale, Kasese, Rukungiri, Mukono and Tororo). Farmers are encouraged to pick up seedlings themselves as a sign of interest and commitment to growing them into trees. The seedlings are handed out on a first-come, first-serve basis. The nursery operators provide a basic refresher training on how to take care of the seedlings before the farmers register their details and the species as well as the number of seedlings they would like to receive, which they then transport home in boxes and basins. Farmers are encouraged to plant the seedlings as soon as possible, preferably on the same day they receive them.
Seedling counting in Vision Vocational Nursery in Kasese district
Thembo Albert, a smallholder farmer from Kasese district, had previously not been interested in tree growing; however, in 2011, he was having trouble with strong winds on his farm, so bought ten Grivellea trees and planted them around his home to act as windbreaks. The trees were serving their purpose well. Until one day, a group of timber dealers approached him at his home and offered to buy his trees at UGX 100,000 (approximately 28 USD) per tree. Excited at the prospect, he took them up on their offer immediately. Later that evening, as he was in the trading center telling his colleagues all about the great deal he had landed, he found out that the timber buyers had cheated him. The actual value of the trees on the market was much higher than the money he had been offered.
From this experience, he learnt more about the monetary value of trees and decided to plant more of them. This planting season, he took 200 seedlings and encouraged his fellow farmers to plant more trees for the many benefits that his trees brought him.
Farmers share a lighthearted moment during the seedling distribution.
Masereka Nyarwasa is a pit sawyer and timber trader from Kasese who has been moving between neighboring districts in search of timber. The task has become very tiresome, so he has been growing trees and encouraging the community to do so as well so that timber dealers in the area do not have to travel great distances to acquire timber.
Of course, there are some challenges that the tree farmers face. One of them is the theft of seedlings in the garden. Otherwise, at times, some community members are unable to collect seedlings from the nursery, due to the limited number of seedlings for instance. They resort to uprooting the planted seedlings in their neighbor’s gardens and planting them on their own. The rightful owners of the seedlings must then wait to receive replacements in the next planting season, which in Uganda runs from September to October. By providing enough seeedlings for all, this issue can be minimized.
Both the farmers and the Fairventures Team are looking forward to the next seedling distribution.