Finnish Minister for International Development Heidi Hautala has advocated comprehensive and nationwide land use planning in a drive to enhance effective utilisation of land resources to improve people’s livelihoods in rural areas.
This comes in the wake of prolonged land disputes in many parts of the country, which is partly blamed on lack of a proper nationwide plan providing for specific arrangements for land use management.
Speaking here at the weekend, Hautala underlined the need for drawing a comprehensive land use plan for the benefits of different of rural communities.
Giving more details, the Minister said once in place, the land use plan would improve the livelihood of villagers in Mufindi district and other rural areas.
She promised to assist Mufindi district authorities in drafting the district land use plan.
The minister was on tour of Nundwe village, in the district, which is one of the beneficiaries of the support from the Finish government under the umbrella of Tree Growers’ Association Project.
The Project is funded by Finish government through the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism. It’s being implemented in 18 villages in the five districts of Kilombero, Kilolo, Mufindi, Njombe and Rungwe.
In Mufindi district, the project is implemented in six villages of Nundwe, Vikula, Mapanda, Chogo, Kiyowela and Idete.
The visiting Minister said that land use planning was crucial for the livelihood of the villagers thus her government was ready to assist to that end. “Many villagers here are still lacking land use plans, which are vital for their future. We promise to assist you so that you have the plans,” she stressed.
She commended the villagers for implementing properly the tree project. “I’ve been impressed with your work and I would like to see this is disseminated to other villages across the country,” she added.
For her part, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism Maimuna Tarishi commended the Finish government for supporting forestry sector in the country.
She said that land use planning was crucial because it provided security to the village lands and prevent land disputes.
Tarishi said the government was taking measures to ensure that the villagers land was protected by providing them with customary land certificates.
She said once they acquired land certificates, the villagers would be able to use them as collaterals when seeking loans from commercial banks and other financial institutions, which in turn will help them to conduct small projects to improve their incomes.
Mufindi District Lands, Natural Resources and Environment Officer Ali Kidwaka said that the aim of forming tree growers associations was to increase the value of trees grown by producing quality ones that meet international standards.
He said the move also aimed at joining efforts on finding market information, getting technical knowledge on business oriented tree growing activities, awareness creation to other farmers so that they could be engaged in growing trees.
Kidwaka said apart from planting trees, the associations were also involved in different small-scale income generating activities such as improving beekeeping techniques as well as improving fish farming and livestock keeping.
He said it was expected that the villagers would put to use the knowledge and observation they explored during the capacity building for tree grower associations in the coming private forestry and carbon trading project.