Over 350,000 smallholder farmers across the country are expected to benefit from the $22.7 million (Shs86b) project aimed at restoring degraded land to boost agricultural production and curb climate change.
The project which will run for five years was launched Friday by the Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE). It is funded by a private sector company called Climate Asset Management through the Global EverGreening Alliance.
Mr Stephen Mugabi, the acting Director for Environment Affairs at the MWE, said the forest cover has declined from 24 per cent in the 1990s to 13 per cent in 2022.
“This project will supplement the government intervention of restoring the degraded lands in the country. We want to restore the tree cover to 15 per cent by 2026 and 18 per cent by 2030,” he said.
Dr Joy Tukahirwa, the National Coordinator of Uganda Landcare Network, one of the implementing partners said land degradation and loss of tree cover affect soil fertility and land productivity.
“There are vulnerable farms. Specifically, farms and landscapes which are bare let a lot of (fertile) topsoil go. The entire country is having degradation. 50 per cent of the land is degraded and 10 per cent of the land is severely degraded,” she said.
Trees are also essential in controlling climate change by capturing carbon, the driver of climate change. The country has been experiencing droughts and floods as a result of climate change. These disasters affect crop yield and cause deaths.
Ms Rachael Kyozira, the Deputy Chief of Party for Restore Africa, the body in charge of the implementation, said 36 districts will benefit.
Ms Kyozira said they are focusing on Southwestern Uganda, Karamoja, and Mount Elgon regions.
She said they will also promote the planting of fruit and other flowering trees. A total of 560,000 hectares are targeted to be restored in this project.
Mr Niek de Goeij, the Chief of the Party for the project in Uganda, said: “In the years to come, we will collaborate to strengthen green and sustainable livelihoods for Ugandan smallholder farmers while contributing to Uganda’s National Development Plan 3, Vision 2040, and the fight against climate change.”