Bunyoro Kingdom Gives Away Part Of Bugoma Forest For Cane Growing

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In short
Ronald Isagara, the Bunyoro Kingdom Deputy Premier and Information Minister, denies claims that the Kingdom has sold the land, adding that they have only partnered with the Sugar Company to use Kingdom land for cane growing. The contested land measures about 8000 hectares. Last month, the National Forestry Authority blocked Hoima Sugar Limited from clearing the disputed land in preparation for cane growing.

Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom has allocated part of the disputed Bugoma forest reserve land to Hoima Sugar Limited for cane growing. The Kingdom claims that the disputed land, which covers Muhangaizima village in Kyangwali Sub County, is part of the restituted kingdom property. However, the National Forestry Authority-NFA insists that the area lies in the forest reserve. 



Before the dispute is resolved, the Kingdom says it has entered a partnership with Hoima Sugar Limited to use the land for cane growing to generate income for the Kingdom. Reports have been rife that the Kingdom had sold the forestry land to the Indian investor at Shillings 1.3 Billion. Ronald Isagara, the Bunyoro Kingdom Deputy Premier and Information Minister, denies claims that the Kingdom has sold the land, adding that they have only partnered with the Sugar Company to use Kingdom land for cane growing. 



The contested land measures about 8000 hectares. Last month, the National Forestry Authority blocked Hoima Sugar Limited from clearing the disputed land in preparation for cane growing. Michael Mugisa, the Executive Director National Forestry Authority, maintains that the area is in the forestry reserve, which NFA must protect.



Both Hoima Sugar Limited and the Kingdom have been non-committal on the planned sugar cane plantation in the area. On Wednesday, a group of Bunyoro Kingdom royalists blocked the Bugoma Forest Conservation Walk organised by ecologists under the umbrella of Association for the Conservation of Bugoma Forest. The walk was intended to highlight the need for conserving Bugoma forest, which is under threat from encroachers. 




But the event was halted by security on learning that armed residents had barricaded the road from Hoima town-Kyangwali at Nsozi village to block the protest. The group of about 200 protesters claimed that the ecologists had hidden intentions of grabbing the kingdom land for conserving chimpanzees. Although information has it that some groups in the Kingdom had mobilized the protesters, Isagara says the Kingdom had no hand in the protest. 



He says residents are only tired of NFA's mode of operation, accusing some officials of conniving with land grabbers and illegal timber loggers. Three months ago, a group of about 70 timber cutters from Kabale district were arrested in Bugoma forest in possession of documents from Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom permitting them to cut timber.