A rival farmers association has defended Uganda’s Bidco cooking oil processing project against accusations of land grabbing and deforestation.
Kalangala Oil Palm Growers Association (KOPGA) has termed allegation by Bugala Farmers Association (BFA) against Bidco’s Palm Uganda Limited as non-factual and misleading.
KOPGA chairman Martin Lugambwa said that BFA is not a registered organisation that can articulate issues of people.
BFA recently sent a petition to the United Nations Development Programme, asking the international agency to cut ties with Palm Uganda Limited.
BFA claimed that more than 100 farmers lost land and 18,500 acres of rain forest on the Lake Victoria’s island were cut down.
Lugambwa said the members of BFA are not known to anyone adding that KOPGA supports the project because it is a good People’s Public Private Partnership initiative.
“We are proud to be a part of the project and the development it has brought to Bugala. Our farmers earn an average of UGX600 million (Kes18.1 million)a month from the sale of oil palm and this has the potential to reach UGX 1.5 billion per month (Kes45.3 million) when the plantations reach full maturity,” he said.
KOPGA says its 1800 farmers, the government of Uganda, and Oil Palm Uganda Limited are fully involved in the project.
Lugambwa insisted that land acquisition for Palm Uganda Limited, which is a subsidiary of Kenyan-founded Bidco, was done by the Ugandan government on “willing buyer willing seller basis”.
Kalangala Oil Palm Growers Trust General Manager Nelson Basaalide said the petition to UNDP “is a calculated ploy to discredit the otherwise clean oil palm development project”.
KOPGT is the implementing agency, which contracts farmers in this project.
The dismissal of deforestation claims were backed by a statement from Uganda’s Minister of Agriculture, Vincent Rubarema.
The minister said the that Palm Uganda Limited had actually increased the vegetation cover on the island by 60 per cent.