Tree planting programme gains momentum in southern highlands

18Sep 2021
The Guardian
Tree planting programme gains momentum in southern highlands

​​​​​​​THE Finish government has injected Euros 9.4 million (25bn/-) for the second phase of the Private Forestry Programme (PFP) that benefits thousands of tree farmers in Southern Highlands regions.

Riitta Swan.

Since it was launched in 2014, the programme has facilitated the establishment of about 12,000 hectares of pine tree, eucalyptus and teak plantations that are owned by about 9000 households in Iringa and Njombe Regions.

Finish ambassador to Tanzania Riitta Swan told The Guardian in an interview in Dar es Salaam that her government has injected 9.4 million Euros to be paid in phases up to 2022.

She said that the second phase aims to strengthen the initiatives and achievements of phase one and to ensure their ongoing sustainability.

She said the aim of the programme is to support the development of the Tanzanian plantation forestry sub-sector, with focus on small-holder forestry and related value chains targeted in seven districts within three regions of the Southern Highlands.

The beneficiary districts are Kilolo, Mufindi, Njombe, Makete, Ludewa, Madaba and Wang’ing’ombe and three towns of Mafinga, Njombe, and Makambako.

The long term programme which is currently named Participatory Plantation Forestry Programme (PPFP), is a bilateral development cooperation centered through a government agency in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.

The programme is made workable by the help of district extension officers who help farmers to implement the best cultural practices without compromising the food crops’ management.

“Finland does not acquire land rather it supports sustainable forest investment through facilitating village land use planning that allocates village land to different agreed land-use classes within the village,” she said.

Therefore, the programme supports farmers who are willing or engaging in plantation forestry using their land. The plantations established or supported belong to the villagers and are established on the villagers’ own lands, she said.

“To ensure the security of tenure to villagers involved in tree planting, the programme is facilitating the issuance of Certificate of Customary Right of Occupancy (CCROs) in collaboration with the relevant district councils and the National Land-use Planning Commission.”

Ambassador Riitta said the second phase is facilitating the application of best silvi-cultural practices in the already established plantation through support from external sources and natural regeneration to support small scale farmers involved in tree farming or plantation establishment and management in Southern Highland regions.

In addition, the programme aims to safeguard the rights of vulnerable groups who are the beneficiaries and supports their participation in the forestry value chains.

Elaborating more on climate change, she said that the on-going forestry programme promotes afforestation that increases the carbon sink to sequester more carbon from the atmosphere. Moreover, the programme promotes efficient use of land through village land-use planning.

Thus, tree growing and the development of the forestry value chains can give the smallholder farmers alternative income sources to farming and thus offer a means of adaptation to climate change.

She however, noted low infrastructure development in many of the rural areas makes most of the farmers' plantations not easily accessible. This affects their access to extension services, access to markets and hence the quality and pricing of their wood and wood products.

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