MOROTO – A research co-sponsored by the Food and Agriculture Organisation – FAO and the European Union – EU has proved that forestation was conceivable in the Karamoja sub-region.
Dr Paul Okullo – the Director, Nabuin Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute – ZARDI, located in Lorengedwat sub-county, Nabilatuk district in Karamoja insists that the main challenge was changing the mindset of the people as well as planting the right variety of trees.
“We have tested different varieties of tree species and we know exactly, which grows where in this region (Karamoja) at what time.
“We recommend the GC 550 because it can survive in the dry season. There is also the melia Uganda – diseases can’t easily attack it…….So in my view based on research I can conclude that it’s possible to grow a forest in Karamoja,” he told a visiting delegation of FAO officials at the institute’s dry lands trial site on March 11.
Forestation is either growing existing forests (proforestation) or establishing forest growth on areas that either had forest or lacked it naturally. In the earlier case, the process is called re-forestation, while the latter is afforestation.
Nabuin is one of the institutes that carries out research on crops, animal and natural resources with a deliberate target of promoting agricultural technologies – one of the reasons FAO and the EU came on board to offer their financial support.
ZARDI Soil Fertility Technician, Emmanuel Ikalai encourage natives to embrace tree planting in the area, saying it would change the way of life for the people both socially and economically.
“Most of the poles used in support building are bought from Mbale or Soroti (about 200km west of Moroto town) at a cost of Ugx10, 000 a pole. So calculate that in terms of a single acre. That means that some of these people who believe in cattle-rustling will no longer do it because there won’t be time for such,” he anticipated.
Karamoja is semi-arid region, occupying 28,000 sq km in north-east, Uganda with an estimated population of 1.2 million people from 11 different ethnic groups, according to Uganda’s last census.
The region has two rainy seasons with an powerful hot and dry season running from October to April with December and January as the driest months, typically with strong winds. The rainy season peaks are experienced in May and July.