Statement about the Developments at Botanic Gardens Entebbe
The National Agricultural Research Organisation's (NARO) management appreciates the public's concern about the security of the Botanic Gardens, which is a repository of Uganda’s genetic diversity and a Strategic National Genetic Resources Conservation Facility. This concern has been evoked by the video circulating on various social media platforms showing construction at the off-shore side of the botanical gardens.
The Entebbe Botanic Gardens hold significant historical value and are a national treasure. Established in 1898 as the first agricultural research unit in Uganda, the gardens are a conservation place that holds over 500 live plant species and is also home to the National Seed Gene Bank, where complementarily 5000 seed specimens of different plants are conserved.
The Entebbe Botanic Gardens and the Uganda National Genebank constitute the Plant Genetic Resources Centre (PGRC) of NARO, the only center that conserves Uganda’s plant diversity, much of which has disappeared either in the natural ecosystems or in the farming systems. The centralized collection of these plant resources is core to supporting our socio-economic transformation.
Collectively, the Entebbe Botanic Gardens has four core functions: (i) conservation of the plant resources; (ii) undertaking research on the plant resources to generate knowledge that informs the country’s economic transformation efforts; (iii) education and awareness for the public about the importance of the plant resources in providing livelihood needs and ecosystem services; and (iv) providing a serene
environment for the public to rejuvenate their bodies and souls.
Much as NARO management has fought issues of land grabbing in the gardens over the years, this is to inform and reassure the country that the land is safe and has not been sold to anyone. It is still a property of the Government of Uganda. However, rehabilitation is ongoing to improve and provide eco-friendly facilities to visitors who come to tour and experience the gardens, as well as their capacity to deliver the aforementioned core functions. This is in an effort to improve the required social amenities and optimize the eco-tourism potential of the gardens.
The targeted social amenities include: (i) improved availability of piped water; (ii) washrooms; (iii) road infrastructure; and (iv) safety and security, bearing in mind that the Gardens share a 1.5kilometer border line with Lake Victoria.
We thank Ugandans for their interest and continued vigilance in ensuring that this historic place, Entebbe Botanical Gardens, is jealously protected and secured given its place in the conservation of all our plant resources. We commend the spirit of patriotism and stewardship regarding this strategic national asset.
Dr Ambrose J. Agona.
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