Monday 23 November 2020

Palm oil growing catalyzing adaptive capacity of communities through increasing rural income in kalangala district.


Oil Palm Garden in Kanyogoga,  Kizzi Unit in Kalangala District © Photo by EMLI

The introduction of oil palm into Uganda was aimed at promoting inclusive rural transformation despite the potential risks –related to deforestation, air and water pollution among others. Progressively, the development of vegetable oils ushered an opportunity for scaling up thus the National Oil Palm Project (NOPP). The USD 210 million investment aimed to sustainably increase rural incomes through opportunities generated by the establishment of an efficient oil palm industry that complies with modern environmental and social safeguards.

The project is financed by both loan and grant from International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), government co-financing and contribution, private sector and farmers. The project was selected for field assessment under the Enhancing Climate Finance Transparency in Uganda Initiative under the Partners for Resilience Project (PfR II) implemented by CARE International in Uganda in collaboration with Environmental Management for Livelihood Improvement Bwaise Facility (EMLI) with financial support from the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Members of the assessment team undertook a field visit to Masaka and Kalangala District to document key lessons and ground experiences on adaptation and mitigation in relation to the project. Additionally, the field assessment was to qualify whether the project originally marked – Adaptation (Significant) under the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Rio markers was really an adaptation project.

Surprisingly, in context of vulnerability context, the project location is not so vulnerable to climate change risks and impacts except for the recent floods resulting from the raise in Lake Victoria waters, says Ms. Harriet Saawo, the District Natural Resources Officer, Kalangala.

In context of linkages to adaptation, the project has tremendously created employment opportunities which have increased incomes of a number of rural households thus contributing to socio-economic transformation. Overtime, social infrastructures such as banks and roads have been developed.

“As a community we never wanted to grow palm trees due to fear that the government would take our land but when I ventured in to the project, I have realized countless benefits including building my house, taking children to school and I now have tap water and solar.” said Mr. Edward Munaawa, a proud palm oil farmer in Kanyogoga Kizzi Unit in Kalangala district.

Innovatively, the project has contributed to one of the key components of adaptive capacity – wealth measured against asset base and income. Just like Mr. Munaawa, a significant number of farmers under the Kalangala Oil Plam Growers Trust (KOPGT) testify the positive impact of the project which is demonstrated through increasing income and asset base. 

According to Mr. David Balironda Mukasa, Manager Kalangala Oil Palm Growers Trust (KOPGT), the trust is composed of 2063 smallholder farmers, who on average harvest 3 million kilograms of palm oil and generate 2.5 billion shillings as returns from the sales on a monthly basis.

Paradoxically, the project has had noticeable negative impact on the environment, driving deforestation which has resulted into scarcity of fuel wood and other non-timber forest products hence increasing pressure on the natural forest reserves to meet the growing energy demand.

Mr. David Balironda Mukasa blames the encroachment on forest reserves on the growing non-compliance of growers to environment conservation and the increasing appetite for palm oil growing.

To counteract the above impacts, the project has currently integrated tree planting, making it compulsory to leave at least 200 meters reserve area near the lake, uproot palm oil in the reserves, discourage the application of fertilizers, slashing of palm gardens and introduced remote sensing to monitor illegal activities on the environment.

In addition, farmers have been sensitized on the dangers of fertilizer application in palm gardens near the lake, labor groups have been trained, awareness on tree planting has been created, and sensitized on proper land use practices i.e. division of land for palm oil growing, food crop and woodlot.

Compiled by;

Christine Mbatuusa – Study Coordinator