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Trans-boundary Conservation Programme Agro-forestry

It is funded by the DGIS through the Greater Virunga Transboundary Executive Secretariat (GV-TES) Kigali and BMCT. Bwindi Mgahinga Conservation Trust(BMCT) in partnership with Greater Virunga Transboundary Executive Secretariat(GV-TES) based in Kigali, Rwanda engaged in an 18 months agro forestry and tree planting project in the thirteen parishes around Bwindi Mgahinga Conservation Area(BMCA).

The major aim of the project was to facilitate farmers to increase tree cover on the landscape while at the same time generating income through sell of tree seedlings by the tree nursery managers. Tree planting was complimented with a heifer programme targeting 50 households managed through the diocese of Muhabura. The heifer programme’s principle is on a “send a cow” basis aimed at improving nutrition of selected households while at the same time boosting revenues through sale of milk and helping families to access organic manure.

Provision of tree nursery establishments

300 assorted nursery tools(hoes,spades,rakes,wheel barrows, secateurs,grafting knives,watering cans,jerrycans); 250 kgs of plythene tubes; 54kgs of assorted seed:pine(patula and carribaea), eucalytus, grivellia,maesopsis,calliandra seeds and 16m3 of mycorrhiza (pine soil) were procured and distributed to the nursery farmers as start up grants.

20 model tree nursery farmers were selected, taken through a three day refresher training in three nursery site identification, management and business / farm records to be able to operate tree nurseries as an enterprise.

By June 2011, of the 20 trained tree nursery farmers, 15 were actively engaged in the activity. They produced 531,418 seedlings. 243 tree growers(35 females, 208 males and 5 institutions) were trained in the basics of tree growing and management at their respective parish centers. Emphasis was put on: land preparation, lining out, pitting, seedling handling and transport from nursery to planting site, time of planting, weeding, pruning, thinning and fire protection.

Out of the 531,418 seedlings raised, 375,800 seedlings were purchased and planted by different tree growers. On average, each seedling cost UGX 150 at that time and hence farmers realized a cumulative income of UGX 56,370,00. Notwithstanding the all this, the income earned by the farmers was used to meet their basic needs like paying school fees, medical bills and renovation of their houses and was not re-invested in their respective tree businesses. Though, there is still a good number of farmers carrying out tree nursery business i.e. Existing farmers and new farmers.

Marketing of seedlings

To market the seedlings, the tree nursery farmers used mainly word od mouth through the churches and community meetings. Five nursery sign posts were erected at road junctions to boost marketing of seedlings and visibility of the project for outstanding nursery farmers.

The GEV-TES in partnership with BMCT through this project has increased tree cover in the area thereby contributing to the mitigation of climate change effects in the landscape. by involving tree farmers in commercial tree farming and fruit growing, the project has increased the sustainability of tree seedling raising / growing and improved livelihood. Furthermore, through the heifer program, farmers have been exposed to zero grazing for commercial purposes and improved agricultural methods.