In this ‘Farmer Focus’ episode by Ecotrust, Communications and Public Relations Officer Jonah Butsatsa interviews Daniel Mukhwana, a Trees for Global Benefits (TGB) participant and beneficiary.
Daniel is a soft-spoken family man who lives in the Manafwa district of Eastern Uganda and is making efforts to plan and use his land sustainably. Not only is he a TGB participant, but he has also both recruited several of his peers into the program and helped train them by passing on the capacity given to him by Ecotrust.
Word-of-Mouth Program Growth Within Local Communities
Daniel explains to Jonah, who is also known locally as ‘Mandu,’ how Ecotrust recruited him, his progress in planting trees, and his plans to add more. Joining Daniel to his left are Wango Emmanuel, who’s considering joining the program, and Steven Kimiyanyi, who already has.
Wango came to learn more about the program’s environmental and economic benefits, which he’d heard about through Daniel. Wango’s enrollment into the program would be key, because he’s chairman of the local youth organization. He’s a direct and important ambassador to the next generation and can thus pass on not only knowledge about the many important roles trees play, but also technical know-how on how to plant and care for them.
Steven, who is a registered TGB participant like Daniel, explains the straightforward agreement between himself and Ecotrust. “They taught us that if we plant trees, they will help us,” he says. “If we want after they have grown, and we’ve looked after them we can get money to educate our children.” Later in the interview Steven adds how Ecotrust instilled in him the importance of sharing program benefits with his family. “They told us do not keep the money for yourself and not share with your wife and children,” he says. “These trees have to be there, and so it is important that you work with your family and share with them. Otherwise, you will be gone one day and come back only to find that they have cut them down.”
Diverse Species, Inter-Planting, and Benefit Sharing
As the group takes a mini-tour of some of Daniel’s land, he explains that some plantings end up drying out due to the heat, but when that happens they replant. He explains how he’s incorporated indigenous trees not just on bare land, but also alongside with coffee and food crops.
The species Daniel has planted include Bikhiri (cordia), Bisola (markamia) aka Nile tulip, Mitoto (ficus), Bihuyu (another type of ficus), Bisabazi (balanite egyptica). His plantings also include several local species like Bisubyu, Sakasi and Nibuchulyu, as well as the the popular Mvule (kimirumba). Daniel states “Trees have helped me a lot. They help provide shade for my coffee. When the sun is out, the coffee doesn’t do so well. The trees shed leaves which decay, so the soil retains its fertility.”
How Your Carbon Offsetting Educates Children in Uganda
Education is a common theme with regards to how farmers utilize Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) through Ecotrust, which has been a COTAP partner since 2011. Daniel is no exception, using some of his earnings to help pay his children’s school fees. Along with his wife, they also assist him with planting the trees and looking after them.