Chinese Investors are seeking to expand rice growing in
In 2015, the Chinese Investor started cultivating part of Lwera wetland,
located along the Kampala-Masaka highway in Kalungu district to establish a
commercial rice farm. The project has been strongly opposed by some local leaders,
civil societies and sections of the public due to environmental
The investor is currently operating on a radius of 600 acres
located at the outskirts of Lukaya town council in Kalungu district.
Moses Ssempala the LCI Chairperson of Bulingo; a village next to
the rice estate says the Chinese are already luring residents in the area to
sell off their pieces of land for rice growing.
He says that the investor has approached residents practicing substance farming asking them to accept compensation for their gardens and give
them away for expansion of the project.
Gerald Ssenyondo, the Lukaya Town Council Chairperson confirms receiving reports
of locals who have obtained money from the investor to vacate their gardens for
expansion of the plantation.
He, however, indicates that some of these residents being compensated for the
gardens were only permitted to grow seasonal crops that do not pose negative
effects to the wetland.
Victor Mpinga, the Project’s Community Liaisons and Communications
Officer Zhong Industries Limited say that their expansion plans are coherent
with guidelines of the National Environmental Management Authority-NEMA, which
initially cleared them to establish the plantation in the area.
He explains that their urge to expand the plantations is intended
to increase and sustain their production capacity. Mpinga adds that they are waiting
for the operational certificate from NEMA.
//Cue in: “we occupy ….
Cue out; ….what we did.”//
Tom Okurut, the Executive Director of NEMA, says that the rice
project was approved, but the investors have not cultivated the critical
part of the Lwera wetland.
Dr Okurut says the NEMA technical team will study the application
and carry out an evaluation on compliance of the investor’s activities before
issuing him another certificate to allow him to expand the project.
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However according to residents, besides clearing a sizeable part
of the swamp that acted as a water catchment for Lake Victoria, the project
interfered with the drainage system leading to heavy flooding during