Finland supports Tanzania in launch of 16-year, €20M commercial tree planting program on 15,000 hectares in Southern Highland areas aimed at supplementing rural incomes, supporting sustainable plantation forestry

July 9, 2014 () – THE Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism and the Finnish Foreign Affairs Ministry have partnered for a commercial tree planting programme that seeks to increase rural farmers' incomes.

The Private Forestry Programme envisages supporting private plantation forestry in the country and boosting revenues of rural farmers, according to a statement issued in Dar es Salaam by the project's publicity manager, Mr George Matiku.

The programme, which is in its first phase running from 2014 to 2017, aims at increasing rural incomes in the Southern Highland areas by taking advantage of the high potential and current momentum to accelerate expansion of forest plantations through the development of sustainable plantation forestry.

The programme, whose headquarters are in Njombe, promotes planting of trees for commercial purpose to increase incomes.

"Although this programme has participated for the first time at the DITF, it was one of the attractions when people visiting the Ministry of Natural Resource and Tourism pavilion since the trade fair began," Mr Matiku explained.

He noted that a lot of people wanted to know the type of trees for timber that should be planted for commercial purposes and how to access seedlings.

The first phase of the Private Forestry Programme is focusing on promoting planting of tress for commercial purposes in six districts; Ludewa, Makete, Njombe, Kilolo, Mufindi and Kilombero.

The programme will be implemented in a period of 16 years, in four phases. The farmers will also grow other crops such as fruits and bee keeping while waiting for the trees to mature enough to be harvested for sale.

"The public is urged to form groups, so that it will be easier for the programme to provide professional assistance in planting and looking after the tree plantations. For now the seedlings which are already under preparation will be ready for planting in the named areas in December and January," he explained.

The first phase of the programme , 2014 - 2017 will ensure that trees will be planted in 15,000 hectares by farmers who have formed groups of tree growers.

According to information obtained from the Finnish Embassy website the budget to be covered by the government of Finland and Tanzania is almost 20 million Euros.

The other objective of the programme is to create employment in the entire production value chain, from quality seeds to quality products in markets.

The programme seeks to accelerate tree growing, improve its quality and strengthen the quality of wood processing, according to the final programme document.

During the first four years, the programme aims to enable the environment for private forestry by improving knowledge, preparing village land use plans and establish 60-80 new tree growers' associations (TGAs).

In the long term, the programme's vision will ensure private forestry provides sustainable income for a wide population, Tanzania becomes a significant producer of wood fibre for both domestic and export markets and that the Southern Highlands are seen by tree plantation and forest industry investors as an attractive potential investment target.

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