The state minister for co-operatives in Uganda, Frederick Gume, says co-operators should plant trees to contribute to environmental protection while raising awareness of the co-operative model.
Mr Gume launched a nationwide annual tree planting drive at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives (MTIC) at Farmers House in Kampala during National Co-operatives Week, in the lead-up to the International Day of Co-operatives (IDC). IDC celebrations on 2 July took place in Nakaseke District.
In conjunction with the National Forestry Authority (NFA) and Operation Wealth Creation (OWC), MITC distributed seedlings of coffee, fruits, timber, ornamental and medicinal trees across the country in support of the 2016 Co-operative theme “the power to act for a sustainable future”.
Co-operators must set the example of planting trees because they not only mitigate against climate change, but are also a source of revenue to many Ugandans, said Mr Gumes.
The national annual tree-planting drive was launched by the government to create more awareness of the significance the co-operative movement has played in the country’s development. The initiative also highlighted to co-operatives the collective benefits of creating wealth through sustainable economic practices such as tree planting.
MTIC hopes that, by working with members of the co-op movement, civil society organisations, religious and cultural institutions and other government agencies, 10 million trees will be planted by members of the co-operative community around Uganda by next year.
Uganda has seen vast deforestation over the years as trees have been cut down for firewood and to make way for farming and urban development. Although 10 million trees will not undo the damage already done, “they will promote a brighter future and set the tone for Uganda’s goals to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations,” said Mr Gume.
In recognition of their conservation efforts, the co-operative that has planted the most trees by the end of the year will win a trip to Nairobi, Kenya, sponsored by the Uhuru Institute for Social Development.