By Patrick Jaramogi
What began as a launch in March 2017, is now yielding fruits. The first batch of the winners of the Uhuru Institute supported nationwide campaign to get cooperatives to plant trees have left for Nairobi, in Kenya.
The nationwide campaign to plant trees was initiated by the Uhuru Institute for Social Development to among others address the abject poverty, and to help cooperatives commercialize the tree planting business. Dubbed “Plant-a-CoopTree’, that was launched in Ngogwe sub county in Buikwe district, the campaign has now spread across the entire country.
Mrs. Jane Amuge Okello, the Director of Operations at the Uhuru Institute said the campaign is aimed at promoting commercial tree planting as a viable strategy for wealth creation and also providing an opportunity for diversifying cooperative businesses.
The inaugural winner for this tree planting campaign was Munaku Kama SACCO Ltd, a local Cooperative based in Kisubi, Wakiso district, in Uganda. The team of 12 members left Kampala on 14 October 2018, for a study tour in Kenya. They were accompanied to the field study by a team of staff from the Uhuru Institute of Social Development, led by the Chief Executive Mr. Okello Leonard.
While in Nairobi, the Munaku Kama team will visit one of the biggest SACCOs in the continent, the Walimu SACCO before heading to Meru to visit Yetu SACCO Ltd, to learn business innovations and environment conservation business. The team will also visit a housing cooperative in Nairobi among other sites.
Speaking to theCooperator before departure, the Munaku Kama team leader Nansalire Sarah said; “This trip is so fantastic, we have been waiting eagerly for this moment and we are optimistic we shall learn a lot from this trip.”
“The campaign, apart from acting as a benchmark for environmental conservation, will also help the population to appreciate that with the growing demand for timber, it can be a great avenue to make huge cash,” said Mr. Okello.
The tree planting competition covered 20 districts including: Nebbi, Kitgum, Buikwe, Arua, Wakiso, Kampala, Masaka Soroti, Hoima, Kiryandongo, Ibanda, Mbale, Kaliro, Bukwo, Kasese, Kabarole, Amolatar, Kabong and Tororo.
A registered cooperative from each of the mentioned districts was selected to compete in a national wide competition where the selected cooperatives were each given 500 grevillea tree seedlings after availing at least an acre of land. The growth and progress of the trees were closely monitored on a quarterly basis for a period of a year to determine the outstanding cooperatives.
The best five cooperatives out of the 20 were then selected and were awarded different prizes at the just concluded International Cooperatives Day that was held at the Civil College in Jinja. Finance Minister, Mr. Matia Kasaijja who represented the President at the event handed over the awards to the winners. The top winners Munaku Kaama SACCO won an all-expenses paid learning visit to Kenya.
Mr. Leonard Okello paid special tribute to the Government of Uganda, Ministry of Trade Industry and Cooperatives, the National Forest Authority (NFA) with whom TUI has signed MoU which have made the tree planting competition a success.