The adverse effects of climate change partially triggered by the uncontrolled cutting down of trees for Charcoal production for a living in the Greater Luwero region, has prompted the Catholic diocese of Kasana-Luwero to invest in Cocoa farming.
The diocese through Caritas Kasanaensis which is its social development arm has in this venture started by training 250 farmers on Cocoa production. The investment is supported by the gov’t of Denmark, CAPCA among others.
According to Rev. Fr. Hilary Muheezangango, the Director of Caritas Kasanaensis, the investment has seen millions of shillings injected in among others, the purchase of more than 5,000 seedlings.
The seedlings have been given to the first beneficiaries from five Cooperative Societies in Kikyuusa, Katikamu, Kapeeka, Semuto and Butuntumula Sub-Counties. Fr. Muheezangango explains that they have moved to prioritize Cocoa farming to among others counter climate change in addition to creating alternative employment opportunities for mostly those surviving on Charcoal burning.
He says they have for long been concerned with the predominance of charcoal burning as a core business in the greater Luwero region in the areas covered by the diocese, the three civic districts of Luwero, Nakaseke and Nakasongola.
According to Fr. Muheezangango, they are to rally the masses in the area to embrace Cocoa farming reasoning that it will be an alternative source of income to reduce tree cutting.
Officiating at the launch of Cocoa farming at the diocesan headquarters, Msgr Francis Xavier Mpanga, the Kasana-Luwero Diocesan Administrator has revealed that he is a Cocoa farmer of five years standing. He says Cocoa is a good money generating crop.
Msgr. Mpanga supports massive Cocoa farming as he calls on the populace to embrace it, reasoning that it will both be an answer to improving household incomes and also help counter effects of climate change because a cocoa plantation needs a shelter cover by trees.
Luwero District Agricultural Officer (DAO) Wilberforce Ssemigga says that although Cocoa is grown by some in other areas, not many have so far embraced it in his jurisdiction. He commends the Church’s move to invest in Cocoa farming.
According to Ssemigga, as a district, they also consider the crop as one of the responses to countering effects of climate change. He adds that it’s also lucrative, noting that if many of those engaged in tree cutting for charcoal production embrace it, they will always register gains.
According to the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) website, Cocoa is Uganda’s fourth-biggest ‘agricutural’ export after coffee, tea and fish. It’s ranked among the high-value export commodities that offer great economic opportunities for increasing farmers’ incomes and foreign exchange earnings for the country.
Since FY 2013/14, NAADS has distributed over 20 million cocoa seedlings contributing to the increased production of cocoa by 9%.
In Uganda, cocoa is grown in a number of districts where the conditions are suitable for cultivation mainly in the central region, western and southeastern and southwestern regions, and some parts of the eastern region mainly in Busoga region.
Most of the cocoa beans produced in Uganda are exported in raw form to European countries.