By Gerald Tenywa
Buganda Kingdom is to offer 15,000 hectares of land in Mukono district to sugar producer SCOUL, in a bid to save part of Mabira forest reserve from being degazetted for cultivation of sugarcane.
This was contained in a 13-page statement by Katikkiro Daniel Muliika at a public debate organised last week by NGOs, Nature Uganda and the Uganda Wildlife Society at the Uganda Museum.
Tom Kisawuzi, Muliikaâ€™s permanent secretary, presented the statement at the well-attended debate convened with the theme; â€œMabira forest reserve or Sugarcane plantation?â€™â€™
Other speakers, Emmanuel Dombo, the chairperson of the natural resource committee of Parliament and Gober Tumushabe, who heads ACODE (Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment), were also against degazettement of Mabira.
Kisawuzi said there was no need of destroying Mabira, which is a habitat of birds and wildlife, that will undermine the tourism potential of the forest. He said SCOUL should invest in the socio-economic infrastructure of the area instead of running away into the forest.
â€œBuganda is in position to mobilise within Kyaggwe zone suitable land for growing of sugarcane of up to 15,000 hectares and make it available to the Mehta Group of Companies on definitive terms of understanding,â€™â€™ Muliikaâ€™s statement said.
Such plantation would form a nucleus of encouraging small scale outgrowers within the national policy of poverty alleviation without endangering the ecological balance and environmental disaster implied in the destruction of Mabira forest reserve.
SCOUL wants 7,100 hectares (one quarter) of Mabira forest reserve for sugarcane cultivation.
Kisawuzi said other pieces of land could be got from Bugandaâ€™s land lords who have idle land in areas like Kasawo.