EU Head of Operations Michelle Labeeu joined Ugandan government officials including the Minister of Water and Environment Sam Cheptoris, and the Food and Agriculture Organisation Country Representative in Uganda Alhaji M. Jallow on July 21, 2016 to launch the third phase of the Sawlog Production Grant Scheme Project in the eastern Uganda district of Buikwe. The launch took place at the lush site of one of the SPGS project beneficiaries, Ferdsult plantation in Lugazi, Buikwe District.
SPGS is a tree-planting project by the Ugandan government funded by the European Union aimed at increasing incomes of the rural population through commercial tree planting. It also helps in mitigating climate change effects through intensive afforestation. The current phase is expected to run until July 2020. A key innovation of the project is that it includes a new component of downstream processing and value addition.
"We know that the plantations established in phase 1 (2004-2009) are now due for total harvesting, yet the planters are experiencing several challenges ranging from low prices offered by middle men or by processors, partly because of the distance to the few sawmills available," said Ms Labeeu, who marked the occassion, along with the other officials, by planting a tree. "The added component (value addition, downstream processing) is firstly meant to complete the cycle from preparing planting material to a finished good quality product and also exhibit the true value of intermediary products from thinning and prunning material. We are confident that the new implementing partners for SPGS III--FAO, in collaboration with the Ministry of Water and Environment and the Uganda Timber Growers' Association will work together on this to expose and demonstrate the available technologies for downstream value addition."
On top of the 16million Euros provided by the EU, the FAO, who are the project implementing partners are providing 40,000 Euros to the project while the Government of Uganda is allocating 878 million Uganda shillings.
"These projects and funds are critical towards sustainable management of natural resources and improved land management in response to climate change," said Alhaji Jallow.
SPGS III is organized around four outcomes and 11 outputs to ensure efficiency in processing and utilizing Sawlog products such as electricity poles and materials for paper. Under the project, more commercial timber and bio-energy plantations will be established in select districts with emphasis on increasing gender-sensitive awareness and participation of communities and smallholders. Other objectives include increased integration of research for development of plantations, processing and implementation of a coordinated approach towards commercial forestry value chain processes, among others.
To read the speech in full delivered by the EU Delegation to Uganda Head of Operations Michelle Labeeu, click here .