Experts Warn of Environmental Consequences Amidst Uganda’s Oil Palm Growth
Environmental experts have expressed concerns regarding the expansion of the National Oil Palm Project (NOPP) in Uganda, specifically in five districts: Kalangala, Buvuma, Mukono, Masaka, and Mayuge. During the launch of NOPP’s environmental, social, and sustainability component by the international Civil Society Organization Solidaridad, several issues were highlighted.
Mr. Robert Charles Aguma, the environment and safety manager of NOPP in the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries (MAAIF), discussed the adverse environmental impact caused by farmers planting oil palm trees in buffer zones, particularly in Kalangala. He mentioned that these actions have resulted in rising water levels, altering the natural watermarks of the lake. Remedial efforts are being undertaken to restore the affected environment. To maintain water quality in the lake and prevent silt erosion, fertilizers and agro-chemicals are prohibited within the 200-meter buffer zones.
Mr. Rajab Ssemakula, the chairman of Kalangala District, acknowledged that farmers have been planting oil palm trees within buffer zones, wetlands, and forested areas without regard for environmental protection. He praised Solidaridad for their intervention, emphasizing the importance of training and sensitizing farmers to promote responsible oil palm cultivation while safeguarding the environment.
The country manager of Solidaridad, Mr. David Kyeyune, explained that their organization was chosen by the Ugandan government to integrate environmental and social sustainability practices into oil palm production. He recommended that farmers who have already planted oil palm trees in buffer zones and wetlands should uproot them. Additionally, he stressed the importance of adopting agro-forestry practices to enhance productivity, soil protection, and biomass improvement in oil palm production.