Dokolo district is currently the epicentre of our intervention, with additional tree planting in the adjacent districts of Amolatar (west), Kaberamaido (east) and Alebtong (north-east).
This programme is similar to the Seven Forks Farmers Programme in Kenya, in that BGF partners with small-holder farmers to plant melia trees in their fields. We started working there by the end of 2018, employing staff, establishing the nursery and laying contacts with the local authorities and YICAFA (see below). Methodology of work, and challenges are similar to the Seven Forks Farmers Programme, but there are some stark differences.
Firstly the tree species. It is not the same melia as in the drylands of Kenya, but another -albeit closely related- one: Melia azedarach, called giant lira in Uganda (see “Our tree species”). It is produced massively in our nursery in Dokolo township, the district capital.The nursery has an annual production capacity of 2m seedlings. We are preparing for the entry next year of another species, notably teak (also see “Our tree species”), which is expected to do equally well, judged from existing woodlots.
Secondly the ecological context. It actually RAINS in Northern Uganda, unlike in the Kenyan drylands. Main Annual Rainfall is around 1200mm with almost continuous rain from April to October, although with a dip in the period of June-August, and a pronounced dry season during November-March. Again, rainfall is becoming more unpredictable but conditions in this respect are more benign than in our operating areas in Kenya.Dokolo in general is somewhat higher than Seven Forks, respectively 1000-1100masl against 700-1100masl. The land is flat and gently rolling with few stony areas, and easier to move around. This is important for seedling distribution, and will be significant once the harvesting and transport of logs start. Due to the relatively abundant rains, survival is higher and the species grows faster. We count on maximum 15 years towards maturity.For the local melia, this is five years shorter than in Kenya.
Thirdly: The district is at the edge of the region that for years was the operating theatre of the “Lord’s Resistance Army”, and had to count with the influx of numerous refugees. This war barely ended in 2007 with the LRA pushed back into neighbouring countries where still some fragments are said to survive. The whole north of Uganda is still recovering from this brutal and decades longinsurgency, and as a result the people ofour operational area are even poorer than in Seven Forks, and that says something.
On the positive side, we work together with an active grass-roots farmers organization called YICAFA, under the stimulating leadership of Julius Odwe, a retired senior police officer (see photo during launch of programme, speaking with microphone in hand). YICAFA is the abbreviation of Yele Ikom Can Atur Farmers Association, meaning “working hard to deal with poverty, by the local people” in the local Lango language. Thanks to this collaboration with YICAFA, making good use of local radio stations, and building on our experience in Seven Forks, we were able to make a successful start. BGF currently employs 2 foresters, a logistical officer, a nursery technician and 5 AAs (Agroforestry Agents), apart from 40-50 casual workers in the nursery. As by the beginning of June 2019, some 10,000 farmers were enrolled in the programme. Numerous visitors from around Uganda are visiting the nursery, the programme appeared in the national press, and it is set to grow fast.
NORTHERN UGANDA FARMERS PROGRAMME GALLERY