Tobacco Growing Blamed For Massive Loss of Forest Cover

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In short
As the world marks Environment Day, activists in Hoima are partly blaming tobacco growing for aggravating environmental degradation.

As the world marks Environment Day, activists in Hoima are partly blaming tobacco growing for aggravating environmental degradation.

The environmentalists say apart from massive clearance of forests for tobacco growing, farmers also need wood for curing their produce and this has contributed to the loss of the forest cover in Hoima district and Bunyoro region in general.

According to National Forestry Authority’s acting Budongo system range manager, Paul Kakeeto, Bunyoro loses about 7,000 hectares of forests annually. Tobacco growing in Bunyoro is a major economic activity especially in Hoima, Masindi and Kibaale districts.

Hussein Birigenda, the Coordinator Hoima Environmental Project, says tobacco farmers have continued to clear forests for farming and wood to cure their produce yet no clear measures are put in place to encourage farmers on environmental conservation alongside farming.

Birigenda calls on tobacco companies to liaise with civil society organisations to ensure that their farmers are sensitized on environmental conservation and that farmers should also be provided tree seedlings.

Alain Schacher, the Managing Director British American Tobacco, the biggest tobacco company in Uganda, says they have already realized the problem and the company is now rejuvenating its afforestation campaign launched in 2007.

Speaking to journalists in Hoima, Schacher said it’s now mandatory that each of their contracted farmers to plant at least 200 trees on their land.

He says apart from ensuring security of supply of wood fuel requirements for curing tobacco, the program aims at responding to environmental concerns.

//Cue in: “Reforesting the land………
Cue out:…….not for cooking.”//

Last week BAT planted 27,000 trees in Hoima district as part of their rejuvenated afforestation campaign, ahead of Word Environment Day.

This year’s Environment Day will be marked under the theme, “Green Economy: Our actions count.”

 

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