Farmers in Buvuma have started planting their oil palm as small holder farmers under the National Oil Palm Project, Seedlings were supplied to small holder farmers by Oil Palm Buvuma Limited (OBPL) the 0il palm nursery in Buvuma district for immediate planting., According to Ms. Connie Masaba Magomu, physical planting kicked off around April 2021 and expected first harvest shall be in the next three years.
”We have started physical field planting, after 3 years the trees will start bearing fruits. In the next three years OPBL will start building a palm oil mill in Buvuma that will add value on oil palm fresh fruit bunches or produce crude palm oil which will be then taken to Jinja for refining and producing final products like fortune butto and others.” Said Masaba. She adds that for this to succeed and ensure planting happens, the National Oil Palm Project (NOPP) is working with smallholder farmers and has already surveyed their land for planting.
“We have facilitated processes to help farmers establish Buvuma Oil Palm Growers Cooperative. This will ensure taht small holder farmers have a voice, ensure that their issues are heard and also enable the project to support the farmers to access good seedlings , have access to fertilizers, to technical support, have a loan facility that they will be able to repay after they start selling their fresh fruit bunches and this loan facility will be able to help establish their plantations.” Explains Masaba
In Kalangala, Government of Uganda through the Vegetable Oil Development Project (VODP 1&2) gave loans worth 53 billion UGX but as we speak, farmers have already paid back over 40 billion UGX , this is an indicator that Oil Palm as a crop can greatly transform livelihoods. Masaba says, despite the positive strides in ensuring planting kicks off , there are challenges of land acquisition. Many farmers in Buvuma have voluntarily availed land to establish nucleus estate plantations. This is attributed to the good working relationship with the community and district authority.
“We have 5000 hectares of the nucleus estate land in Buvuma. Land acquistion had a number of issues. There are very many people who were settling on it, for instance you find the land owner, tenants, squatters, licensee so we really had issues with them but now we have been gradually sorting them, Government of Uganda compensated, those who accepted on willing seller willing buyer principle. Those who would refuse were left with their land.” explains Masaba.
Masaba adds that under the NOPP arrangement, everyone that gives out land is paid and there is no one that is forced to give up their land. Every one that was paid gave out their land genuinely and was not forced.
According to Serunjoji Wilson , the NOPP focal person of Buvuma, most people that were compensated for their land have since settled elsewhere and their lives have changed. Some built houses whilst others have been able to reconstruct their lives and others are working with the Nucleus estate.