UGANDA: GULU TIMBER INDUSTRY IS A BIG SPIN OF ECONOMIC INVESTMENT BENEFIT-LOCAL INVESTER

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Mr. Dickson Council Langoya in his pine plantation-file photo

Mr. Langoya Council Dickson is one of Uganda Timber Grower Association based in Gulu. He is proud to say that, in three years’ time, Gulu City will be supplied with Timber from his 130 hectares of trees.

Located in Opok Central Forest Reserve, a few minutes’ drive, east of Gulu town in Omoro district, his plantation is so far one of the biggest privately owned plantation in Northern Uganda. This is a show case for local investment in Northern Uganda.

During the just concluded Northern Uganda-the Emerging Investment Frontier Conference in Gulu, Agricultural experts have been debating on how to explore partnership and identify high-growing investment opportunities that will generate economic, social and environmental return.

GULU-UGANDA: According Mr. Langoya, even Europeans who pay visits to his forest 130 hectares of trees, many would shake their heads in wonder, saying they do not believe that this pine tree, which is just eleven years old, can be big that size. They say, because of the cold weather in Europe, the size of such trees in Mr. Langoya’s plantation would forty years old

In a Q&A interview, BSN reporter tracked Mr. Langoya, a former Commissioner with National Forest Authority (NFA), to his farm at Opok Forest in order to understand, witness his investment in Timber Industry.

 

BSN: Mr. Langoya, can you tell me who you are, and what made you to start up investment in the forest industry?

Mr. Langoya:I think investment in forestry industry runs in the family set up. My father, the late D. K Langoya of Palabek Kal, Lamwo District was a trained Forest Ranger from 1939 to 1942. He was one of the pioneer students of Nyapyea Forest College.

My father retired from the services in 1966 and he became a tobacco farmer. He was the best tobacco farmer in Palabek. Even in these days he would plant his own tree for Tobacco. I was born in those day when Uganda got independence.

He used to tell us that tree planting is very good and profitable and good to protect the environment. He used to urge us to plant tree and that we can use the trees for other domestic purpose.

By good coincidence, when I joined Makerere University in 1985 and completed in 1988,I also studied forestry. Later I got my Master degree (MSc) in Environment and Management from University of Abaden Scotland in 2000.

This brings me into the question of why I am interested in forestry. I have learned a lot from my farm, but the main reason why I took in tree planting came in 2006.

The reason is, although I would always remember what my father used to tell me, I would use my knowledge gained at universities to do it scientifically through planning, calculation and through economic projection as I retired in 2004.

Much as I had wanted to plant tree, I would do it in a small scale. When I did project count flow in 100 hectares, I learnt that investments in tree growing make more returns, give you better returns. My research also show that the cost of production drop by 96 percent after five or seven years.

Another reason is that trees tend to appreciate in value with age instead of depreciating as in other business sectors. The rate of investment in forestry ranges from 17% to 30%. For example, if I put my money in fixed deposit account, the interest is from 5% to 8%. Even the interest that this NSSF guys give us is about 15% to about 18%.

Interests I get from growing trees is much better than interests from banks or NSSF. I called it my second pension.

So now, I don’t want to start any other investment besides timber industry. The bigger the investment; the a bigger the interest. I and my wife have given our serving in forest faming.

Although my primary interest in investing heavily in forestry was economic, I  have realized from my courses in science that trees also absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere which causes global warming.

Some people come from a distance of ten kilometers in order to take branches of pine tree but we don’t ask for money from them. The most important thing is that a lot of the communities within the forest have also learnt how to plant tree and protect them.

When they see from us what we do, they also do the same on their plantations. When we are weeding they also begin to do weeding, when we are planting, they also do planting and when we are making fire line, they also learn from us.

BSN:When did you start the process of planting, and  how much did you put in as the capital in the forestry investment, and how much are you expecting to get from this timber industry?

Mr. Langoya: We started planting our first hectares in 2006, about 13 years ago. We probably invested about UGX 350 million (about US$ 97,222.00) in 13 years. But I must add something; UGX 100 million (about US$ 28,000.00) came in form of a grant from European Union to help us expand.  

I got a Sawmill unit for timber production from the European Union on loan. The half of that money is payable in two years. They give you the money for maintain your crop. If you don’t follow the weeding and maintenance process, they will not return your money. That is the standard which I have kept up to now.

When it comes for fire protection, the community would come to help us because we have given them a lot of job and we have given a lot of lesson to them.

The question of market is a bit of challenge, but it’s available. I am targeting the markets of Gulu, Amuru and Omoro districts.

The major challenges are that we have under size timbers like 6 by 2 inches in the market. It Is not even 6 by 2 inches, its 5.2 inches. If it is 12 by 1 inches, they reduced it to 10 by 1 inches because the markets are flooded with illegal timbers and young tree. It’s the major problem.

Our plan is to make sure that we get the right tree with the right age and also make sure that we cut the right length and the right size. We expect to use machine which can cut the right size. We also use various means of communication to talk to people to come and buy our products.

 

 

 

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