By Geresom Musamali
THE vice-president, Prof. Gilbert Bukenya, has advised residents of Kabale district to use wetlands and river valleys carefully to avoid destroying the environment.
Bukenya was recently responding to reports that the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) would evict farmers from the wetlands.
â€œPlease continue cultivating but let the water flow freely. I will talk to the NEMA director,â€ said Bukenya, at his Bonna Bagaggawale (prosperity for all) campaign in the district.
He affirmed that the Government would not evict people from the wetlands but would devise proper environment management practices to ensure that they do not degrade the wetlands through poor farming methods
The Rubanda West MP, Henry Banyenzaki and the Rukiga MP, Sam Byanagwa, had earlier told the vice-president that NEMA was threatening to evict the farmers from the valleys. Banyenzaki said NEMA had stopped the farmers from working within fifty metres of the swamps.
â€œThe same obligation however has not been applied to the cattle farmers who have set up ranches in the valleys and swamps. We think this is a conspiracy to throw our people out of the valleys,â€ Banyenkazi lamented.
Bukenya also toured Artemisia farm and factory at Kitumba owned by Afroalpine Pharma. The factory produces anti-malaria drug ingredients.
â€œMalaria is the number one killer of Ugandans and the number one killer of our countryâ€™s economy. When you get infected with malaria, you spend about five days recovering without working and that is an economic cost to the country,â€ he said.
Bukenya advised the locals to grow trees on the mountain slopes to prevent soil erosion. He said the trees would eventually bring them money when they are harvested for timber.