Charcoal business on the rise in Busia
The recent charcoal ban in Kenya has led to a charcoal business boom in Busia municipality. Over the course of the past three months, the Kenyan government has been making strides to conserve its environment.
These tentative measures are being put on deforestation in Kenya but some Kenyans still believe that they cannot use any other forms of fuel combined other than charcoal. This development combined with the charcoal burning in Uganda meant Uganda would naturally become a top supplier of charcoal to Kenya.
A sack of charcoal that used to go for 35,000 Uganda shillings is now 80,000 Uganda shillings attracting charcoal business traders from all over the country to move to Busia where they stand to pull in more
Some traders in the Busia area that were specialized in other fields have now moved into the charcoal business to make a quick buck. In an interview, the chairperson of National Cross-border Trade, Godfrey Oundo revealed that district was having charcoal traders coming in from places like Gulu, Agago and Nwoya.
Kenya joins Rwanda in the ban of charcoal in an effort to protect what is left of the Forest Reserves. As much as the resulting business boom is doing good for Uganda’s business persons now, the impact of the demand for charcoal on Ugandan forests could have dire consequences that can’t be fixed.
Traders, though ecstatic about the quick cash in their pockets, have advised the Ugandan government to take similar action to preserve the forests in Uganda.
Various Ugandan organizations, fortunately, have been on alert on the issue of forest preservation. On March 19th, 2018, Uganda Breweries Limited (UBL), through its Water of Life initiative signed a partnership with Rotary Uganda to jointly restore 200 hectares of forest reserves within Lake Victoria water catchment areas.
Over time, forest reserves serving as water catchments for Lake Victoria have been under massive deforestation because the indigenous trees were cut down by residents for timber, firewood, charcoal, and land for agriculture.
A recent report on Uganda’s forest cover released by the Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (Acode) indicates that the country’s total forest cover reduced by 27 percent between 1990 and 2005 and in that period, total coverage reduced from 4.9 million hectares to just 1.8 million hectares.
This represents an average decline of 1.8 percent every year.The report also notes that 600 hectares of forest cover are lost every year and predicts that in 50 years, Uganda will not have any forest cover left.
The UBL-Rotary Uganda project is worth Shs 245 million and will see the two entities continuously plant
trees in different forest reserves in partnership with National Forestry Authority (NFA) to ensure that the
trees are well-maintained, monitored and protected against illegal activities.
Planting will be done annually for the next five years. It is hoped that the charcoal business boom is short-lived and doesn’t set this project and others like it back.