Evictions destroying food and farming
“…some crops were slashed down, and they used chemicals to spray crops. Even the animals fed on the crops [that were] sprayed, have died.” (Focus group participant, Mayuge District).
In addition to the enclosures predating Green Resources’ tenure, recent accounts of forced relocations are directly linked to expansion of the company’s plantation activities. Some villagers shared accounts of their homes being destroyed by company employees to make way for the establishment and recent expansion of forestry plantations. Frequently, the villagers described the forced relocation of agriculture, grazing, and other livelihood activities, including during the corporation’s 2011 expansion of tree planting areas at both sites. Community members from one village reported that company staff arrived without notice, and “just started to plant trees on top of our crops … we were evicted without discussion.”[i]
Villagers also described an earlier arrangement with Green Resources’ staff allowing them to grow food crops between the company tree seedlings–referred to locally as the taungya system–as now-prohibited, with their intercropped food being destroyed by company staff.[ii] An elderly woman described this scenario, “some crops were slashed down, and they used chemicals to spray crops. Even the animals fed on the crops [that were] sprayed, have died.”[iii]
Many people also reported having their animals that strayed into license areas, confiscated by Green Resources staff and local police officers. Local villagers contested the boundary of the license area, though some accounts report that animals were confiscated from what locals believed was community land.
There was further evidence of contestation between local villagers and Green Resources about the designation of community land. During fieldwork in 2013, for example, villagers described surveyors visiting what they believed was community land, vital and seemingly ever-shrinking commons for crops and grazing. In late 2013, the company started to plant trees on this land, destroying crops and again forcing villagers to relocate food growing elsewhere. While the company and villagers dispute the boundary of Green Resources’ license area, the outcome is the same; communities already disadvantaged by repeated dislocation and dispossession are further pushed to the margins of existence as plantation forestry expands.[iv]
One woman shared her story of being forced to abandon her crops, ultimately rendering her homeless:
“We are chased away from our garden after one season. I was growing crops and the security personnel allowed me to prepare my garden and then when it was mature, and because there were no trees growing, they slashed it down. I went to another rocky area on the hill in that area to try to grow food but my cassava dried up. Now I am living off the handouts from other neighbors in the village.”[v]
Green Resources has continued to expand its forestry plantations, including adding a further 530 hectares at Kachung and 889 hectares at Bukaleba during 2011/2012.[vi] This expansion is intensifying what local villagers describe as already acute land shortages for growing food in each region. On the basis of expanding forestry plantations as well as further expansion of the borders of the company license areas, local leaders in each district described “a coming food crisis.”[vii]
i Focus group discussion, Mayuge district, June 20, 2012.
ii Walukamba, A. “Farmers Barred from Cultivating in Forest Reserve.” Urn. http://ugandaradionetwork.com/a/story.php?s=42385 (accessed July 23, 2014).
iii Focus group discussion, Mayuge district, July 30, 2013.
iv Walukamba, A. “600 Evictees Face Hunger in Mayuge.” Urn. http:// ugandaradionetwork.com/a/story.php?s=61761 (accessed July 23, 2014).
v Middle-aged woman, Focus group discussion, Mayuge district, July 31, 2013.
vi Green Resources, no date. Bukaleba Plantation; Walukamba, a. “600 evictees Face Hunger in Mayuge.” Op. Cit.
vii Government representative, interview, Mayuge district, July 29, 2013; Government representative, interview, Dokolo district, August 13, 2013.