INVESTORS from various parts of the country are racing to strike deals with farmers in Kilolo District, Iringa Region in partnerships set to open new avenues for business as the government switches to green economy.
The Kilolo District Forestry Officer, Mr Godfrey Mwita, said several investment companies and others outside the district are currently engaged in negotiations with various farmers on how the region's invigorated tree planting campaign can benefit from interested business people with funds to buy from farmers.
"These are investors who see real and considerable opportunities in our forestry development programmes," he told 'Daily News' yesterday. He said more community- based enterprises are increasing tree cover, noting that while some of them sell after three years, others wait for over the five- year window to harvest wood.
He called on banks to partner with such farmers to advance credit. Some other farmers are growing, on the side, mango fruit orchards, used for timber and woodlots ideal for poles; establish tree nurseries for commercial purposes. The programme also supports projects like beekeeping, dairy goats rearing, poultry keeping as well as cultivating cow peas and green grams.
"The programme is in tandem with the forestry reforms that are aimed at curbing massive destruction of forest cover," he said. He attributed this to destruction of young trees by livestock and wild animals, human activities as well as harsh climatic conditions.
One of the tree farmers, Fatana Myenzenary in Itonya village, Kimala ward, Kilolo District in Iringa Region said the Eastern Arc Mountains Conservation Endowment Fund (EAMCEF) educated them on ways to prepare tree nurseries, which by itself is money through selling seedlings.
He recently sold off an acre at 3.2m/- and said the remaining five acres of trees, he could sell more than 25m/-. He said they were sensitized to plant trees and they hastily planted trees in 16 acres of land. "This year we got 4m/- after selling another one acre and quarter of trees," she says.
The Itonya Village Executive Officer, Handrad Kisoma, said tree planting campaign that kick-started more than 20 years ago has proved to be successful as it has changed people's livelihoods.