What you need to know:
- Conservationists and Butterfly farmers are worried that achievements of a three-year project will be reversed
Amani. Conservationists who initiated butterfly farming in East Usambara in Tanga Region are still at crossroads following the government’s exportation ban.
While over 200 resident have embraced butterfly farming, there are fears that achievements of a three-year Integrated Approaches for Climate Change Adaptation project will be reversed.
With international trade of butterflies farming, which capitalises on the life cycle of the butterflies estimated at $100 million, the conservationists and rural communities, which have benefitted from the project have been left in suspense.
Speaking in different interviews in six villages located in two wards of Amani Division in Muheza District where the project is being implemented by the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG) with other partners, the conservationists and rural communities urged the government to reverse the ban, a move they believe will help in conservation besides reducing poverty.
The farmers breed pupae from captive butterflies and keep them in cages under the project whose other partners are Engineering for Human Development (Ongawa) Global Climate Change, Plus Initiative (GCCAT) and Obra Social la Taixa Faida Mali.
“If the ban is not lifted, there will be negative effects in conservation of the East Usambara forests,” Butterfly Farming Project manager Amiri Said Sheghembe said.
The government imposed a three-year ban on the exportation of live wild animals in March, 2016, saying it would remain in force until proper procedures have been put in place to ensure that only approved animals are exported.
According to Mr Sheghembe, the butterfly farming has been an important activity, which has helped young people, in particular, to shun activities, which are unfriendly to forest conservation like illegal logging.
“Before taking up butterfly farming, I used to engage in activities that are environmentally unfriendly like felling trees,” said Shaaban Mwasoni, a young man, who has been earning between Sh150,000 and Sh200,000 per month from selling pupae at Mgambo Miembeni village. The village is one of the six villages where the project is being implemented. The other villages are Shambangeda, Kwemsoso, Kazita, Misalai, Zirai, Kwelumbizi and Kizerui
“We were getting our income from activities that were unfriendly to forests, but after the introduction of this project started earning money legally,” TFCG project manager Eustace Mtui said .