Government Initiates Certification Process for Palm Oil Producers to Protect Environment

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Uganda's Government Takes Steps to Certify Palm Oil Producers for Environmental Conservation
PHOTO - Witness Radio - Uganda's Government Takes Steps to Certify Palm Oil Producers for Environmental Conservation
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Highlights:

  • Uganda’s Government Takes Steps to Certify Palm Oil Producers
  • Certification Program Launched to Promote Sustainable Palm Oil Production
  • Certification Drive Aims to Curb Environmental Impact in Uganda

The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries (MAAIF) has introduced a certification process for smallholder palm oil farmers. This initiative aims to encourage sustainable practices in the palm oil industry and reduce the negative impact it has on the environment.

Certification Process:
The certification process will be conducted through the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) program. RSPO is a cooperative effort dedicated to promoting sustainable palm oil production and utilization by fostering dialogue and cooperation within the supply chain and among stakeholders.



Environmental Challenges:
The expansion of palm oil production in Uganda, particularly in districts like Kalangala and Buvuma, has led to significant changes in the landscape. While palm oil cultivation has contributed to economic growth and job creation, it has also brought environmental challenges. These include deforestation, loss of biodiversity, pollution, soil erosion, species endangerment, and increased greenhouse gas emissions due to the use of uncontrolled chemicals such as fertilizers.

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Environmental Audits:
To align with environmental regulations, MAAIF conducted environmental and social impact assessments in Kalangala and Buvuma districts. Annual environmental audits have also been conducted, but some farmers have not consistently met the standards. Under the certification program, farmers who meet good practice standards will be rewarded with extra credits based on the size of their gardens.

Sensitization and Boundary Marking:
Efforts are being made to sensitize farmers in buffer zones on best management practices to protect the quality of water in nearby lakes. In Buvuma, the government, in collaboration with the National Forestry Authority (NFA), is working to mark central forest reserves and open boundaries. Farmers who had already planted oil palm trees in protected areas are being advised and supported to relocate them.

Partnerships and Funding:
To effectively implement the certification campaign, MAAIF enlisted the help of Solidaridad East & Central Africa. They aim to enhance the capabilities of key stakeholders in the palm oil industry and establish an industry that adheres to modern environmental and social standards. The government allocated $1.2 million for this awareness program.



Training and Cultural Heritage:
Solidaridad plans to provide training for unit leaders in RSPO, best management practices, climate-conscious agriculture, carbon farming, and trade. They also aim to assist 3,300 farmers in adopting oil palm agroforestry systems and engaging in carbon trading. The sensitization program includes a focus on preserving cultural and heritage sites in districts where palm oil cultivation occurs.

Preservation of Natural Heritage Sites:
Natural heritage sites within the Lake Victoria basin districts, including the Mpaata rock art in Buvuma, Luggo forest, Lutoboka fort in Kalangala, Muzimu caves in Rakai, Bukaleeba fort and caves in Mayuge, and the Wankoli cultural site and Wakoli-Nankoma fort in Bugiri, are of particular importance due to their unique natural and cultural attributes. Efforts are being made to preserve these sites.

Positive Response:
Smallholder farmers have welcomed the program, believing it will contribute significantly to environmental restoration. According to Mr. Salim Maiso, the Chairperson of Buvuma Oil Palm Grower’s Cooperative Society Limited (BOPGCo), this initiative will ensure the long-term sustainability of palm oil cultivation and food production.



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