Tree planting can be lucrative. It is among those enterprises that can boost Uganda’s economy at the grassroots level if taken on seriously.
The only difference from other businesses is that tree planting requires patience and some professionalism. In addition, the farmer needs to know where to get quality seedlings, how to plant them properly and look after them. For example, after planting, farmers should weed, thin and prune the trees in order to get quality products, such as construction and utility poles.
Trees can be a formidable weapon in the fight against poverty. Fruit trees, for example, can help improve food security, while medicinal trees can be used to promote better health. Ornamental trees, planted in compounds and along lanes, for beautification can help improve the micro-climate, while other trees are used for poles and timber.
Already, there are programmes and several projects in place to support tree farming, both large scale and small scale. There is the Sawlog Production Grant Scheme (SPGS), funded by the Government of Uganda, the European Union, and the Norwegian government to support large scale and community level investors to plant trees.
Challenges in tree planting
Apart from the long period of growth, tree planting is more profitable than most other enterprises. Getting enough land for tree planting is also a challenge since few families in Uganda own large tracts of land.
In case land is available, disagreements might still arise since some family members might prefer planting food since it grows faster. However, a compromise can be reached by interplanting trees with food crops.
Another challenge, especially in northern Uganda, is the tendency by hunters to burn bushes while hunting edible rats, causing losses to farmers. Termites, roaming animals, pests and disease, are some of the other problems.
However, these challenges can be solved by tethering the animals, fencing off the trees, and using baskets for compound trees. Farmers should know that trees can also be planted to mark boundaries of plots, lanes on the compound, or to act as wind breakers to protect the home.
Instead of having a non-productive tree on your compound, plant a mahogany that will fetch you money when it matures.
How to get money from tree planting
A kilogramme of locally collected mivule or mahogany tree seeds cost about sh70,000. Imagine how much you would earn if you collected 100kg of each?
How much would you earn if you sold 10,000 poles ready to harvest? Utility poles are even more expensive. They are sold at about sh150,000, each.
We believe there is a need to balance exotics with indigenous species lest we lose out on biodiversity and aesthetic beauty, gifted by nature. Indigenous trees can now also be planted for economic benefits.
The days are gone when trees were planted for environmental purpose only. Otherwise there is a lot of money in tree planting.