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IES supports Ugandan farmers
Farmers' organisation adjacent to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park set up
8 January 2007
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, in the South-West of Uganda, is a very popular tourist location for bird watching and mountain gorilla tracking. The majority of subsistence farmers living close to the edge of the forest, however, do not benefit at all from the tourism industry. Instead, they live in conflict with the National Park, because its existence deprives them of access to traditional income generating activities. At present, the majority of perishable food products used by Bwindi's tourism industry are purchased at long distance, in Kampala or Kabale. At the same time, the adjacent farmers use damaging agricultural practices which degrade the environment.
IES' Environmental Security for Poverty Alleviation programme has supported the setup of the Bwindi Advanced Market Gardeners? Association (AMAGARA). The idea behind this association is that the threats to biodiversity conservation and environmental security can be reduced by helping farmers living near the park to gain access to the market for foodstuffs offered by tourist lodges located in the area, thereby giving them a direct incentive to conserve forest resources, and helping to lift them out of poverty.
The association aims to achieve this goal by acting as a bridge between farmers and the tourism industry, training farmers in target crop production and natural resource management, consolidating and grading produce, and finally marketing products to the tour camps. The activities of the association will increase the productivity, competitiveness and income of participant farmers, whilst reducing environmental degradation associated with poor land-use practices. Income for farmers will be directly associated with sustainable agriculture and protection of the National Park for tourism, thereby creating a strong link between environmental security and development for participant households.