|Town/Region||Bwindi Impenetrable National Park|
|Categories||Communities, Ecotourism, Farming, People|
|Date||12 Jul 2008|
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (BINP) in Uganda is globally famous as home to half of the world population of critically endangered mountain gorillas, which attract thousands of visitors to the forest every year. In theory, this tourism should bring benefits for both conservation and local communities, helping to resolve conflict between people and the park. However, in practice, the majority of revenue ‘leaks’ out of the area, leaving local people with little to show for the tourism taking place in their midst. One important reason for this high rate of leakage is the use of non-local food products by tour camps in the area.
The concept behind Bwindi Advanced Market Gardeners’ Association (AMAGARA – ‘life’ in the local language Rukiga), is that if local farmers can be helped to produce and market foods for the tourism industry they will receive a much needed boost to their household income, and be given a powerful incentive to conserve forest resources. Bwindi AMAGARA works to achieve this goal by acting as a bridge between farmers and the tourism industry, training members in target crop production and natural resource management, helping them to bulk and process their produce, and finally marketing it to the tour camps. Income for farmers gained from the project is directly associated with sustainable agriculture and protection of the National Park for tourism, thereby creating a strong link between conservation and economic development for participant households. This helps to ensure the future of both the forest and the local human population.
After a successful first year of operations AMAGARA now has over 100 member households, and is supplying vegetables to every tour camp in the area. The next phase of the project is to develop products for direct sale to tourists, such as honey and tea, and to improve marketing materials. These activities should boost sales income, and carry Bwindi AMAGARA into profitability by early 2009. Any profits made will be reinvested in the project, or disbursed to other community projects in the area.
Read about Chris' previous work on this project http://www.ruffordsmallgrants.org/rsg/projects/chris_sandbrook or for more information contact: