Private forest owners still use backward methods to harvest and manage tress, the Minister for Environment, Vincent Biruta has said, urging farmers to adopt the cooperative system and streamline their business.
Grouping farmers into cooperatives, Biruta says, will improve the quality of output of agroforestry.
“We are on course to achieve the 30 per cent target of (national) forestry cover but most of the forests that we have, especially the ones owned by private players are poorly managed, poorly exploited and they are less productive,” he added.
Governor Fred Mufulukye speaks at the event. Jean de Dieu Nsabimana.
He was recently launching a pilot project for private smallholder forest farmers in Rwamagana District dubbed Forest management Units (FMUs)
According to the 2015 National Forest Inventory report, around 68 per cent of the forest plantations in the country are owned by private operators.
Minister Biruta said that the project seeks to increase productivity, sustainability and profitability of the country’s forest resources.
“Government is committed to achieving the green economy, that is why we need more efforts in sustainable management of our forests,” he noted.
The project has created two cooperatives in Eastern Province and Northern Province
By next year, the minister said, more cooperatives will be created.
The initiative is expected to boost the farmers’ ability to access more funding such as commercial bank loans.
Under the new project, the private sector will be facilitated to buy tress a lower prices.
Under the national strategic plan for the 2018-2024 period, government targets to achieve between 100 and 150 trees per hectare.
Augustin Bizimana, the head of Tubungabunge Amashyamba Byimana-Birembo Cooperative in Rwamagana District, said: “Our forests were very old and the production was too little due to poor management and irresponsible exploitation.”
The cooperative has 101 plots on 28 hectares and is made up of 78 members, including 61 men and 17 women.