The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Country Representative, Suze Percy-Filippini is impressed with the progress made by the department of Forestry in the implementation of the Forest Farm Facility –FFF Program in the Choma District of Southern Province.
FFF, jointly implemented by FAO and the government with support from Swedish and Finish donors, has provided an alternative source of livelihood for individuals engaged in charcoal businesses.
Under the program, some charcoal associations have been trained in sustainable charcoal production as well as other livelihood alternatives such as tree farming and basketry, which has further seen some expand into other businesses with registered companies.
Ms Filippini said it is gratifying for her organization and the donors to learn that the program is not only promoting environmental sustainability but also contributing to poverty alleviation.
“Based on feedback we have received from beneficiaries, they are considering their activities as a business while doing it in a sustainable way which also protects the environment. For us as a U.N agency, that is gratifying.” She said.
Ms Filippini has however called on the government and the beneficiaries to ensure the program is sustained and scaled up.
She has noted that it is important to replicate the best practices so as to ensure more people benefit.
Ms Filippini said this when she led a delegation of donors from the Swedish and Finish governments and officials from the Ministry of Green Economy and Environment in paying a courtesy call on Southern Province Permanent Secretary, Namani Monze at his office in Choma.
And Dr Monze told the FAO Country Representative that it is in the interest of the Provincial administration to ensure the FFF program is sustained.
He said this can be achieved through funding opportunities that government has provided such as the Constituency Development Fund as well as the Citizen’s Economic Empowerment Commission.
“As government, we want the community to access CDF and use it on such projects which will contribute to environmental sustainability in line with our 8th National Development Plan.” The Permanent Secretary stated.
He noted that beneficiaries of the FFF program such as the Tree farmers can apply for such funds to acquire resources such as land and irrigation schemes to enable them venture into projects such as citrus fruit farming.
Meanwhile, some members of the Choma Tree Nursery Association which is also under the FFF program have disclosed that the program is improving their livelihoods.
Roy Nawa explained that he has been able to start other businesses from the income realised under the association.
He added that he has built two houses, bought some vehicles as well as employed 5 people under his individual business.
And Siyeni Rashid also explained that the association has benefited her as she has managed to educate her children.