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First Lady encourages environment protection and engages farmers with tree planting
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First Lady encourages environment protection and engages farmers with tree planting

First Lady engages farmers in tree planting, urges environment protection

The Herald

Tendai Rupapa Mashonaland West

Yesterday, the ENVIRONMENTAL patron First Lady Auxillia Maungagwa launched an initiative to plant exotic trees such as gum trees and croton tree while educating farmers, mostly those involved in tobacco production, about the need to reduce the indiscriminate reduction of trees that exposes the country to erosion.

Amai Mnangagwa initiated the tree-planting program in Mashonaland West Province, which is home to many tobacco growers who rely heavily on firewood to heal their crops. She will spread the initiative to all of the provinces.

Yesterday, Amai Mnangagwa was the leader in planting more than 2500 croton or gum trees at Mafukidze’s homestead. She was joined by traditional leaders as well as villagers. She also planted Monkey bread (Musekesa), the tree that is the tree of year. The First Lady gave various types of fruit trees to Chiefs and village heads so they could plant them in their respective areas.

She was saddened by the fact that trees were being cut down without being replanted, which she said exposes the country to the impacts of climate change.

Village heads are carrying fruit trees donated yesterday by First Lady AuxilliaMnangagwa of Mashonaland West

The tree-planting program will be carried out in all 10 provinces of the country. It aims to preserve trees that produce fruits and medicines, curb erosion and provide windbreak, energy, and mitigate the effects from climate change.

This programme of teaching and planting trees in the country was started by us and the Forestry Commission (EMA) a few years ago. We will continue doing this, but we were affected by Covid-19.

Mother of the nation, who stressed the need to follow World Health Organisation (WHO), protocols regarding Covid-19 prevention, stated that the theme this year was: Trees & forests for ecosystem restoration & Improved Livelihoods.

Climate change has made this theme very important. You may have noticed that this season was hot and dry, which had an impact on some crops. I want to thank the Lord that we have received so much rain across the country.

I remind everyone that we all have a responsibility to protect trees. I urge everyone to plant trees and preserve forests that are beneficial to us. She said that we also get many fruits that help us fight diseases such as Covid-19.

Yesterday’s planting of Croton trees at Mafukidze’s Mashonaland West homestead

She led an interactive session for the community, where she wanted to understand why trees were so important.

Villagers responded by stating that trees are important for oxygen, fruit, medicine, and rainfall. The First Lady urged the community to use the rainy season to harvest their native vegetables and dry them for future uses.

She thanked the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry and Forestry Commission for implementing tree-planting programs.

All leaders across the country should be encouraged to plant trees in their respective areas. Even legislators can lead people in planting trees. Every year, we see cars leaving communal areas with fruit for sale in towns. This is a sign that fruit trees matter and can provide income, she said.

The fruit trees were donated by First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa for traditional chiefs to plant at their homes for the benefit of their communities

Amai Mnangagwa addressed the community and spoke out against child marriages as well as domestic violence.

When asked why they had children at such young ages, an elderly man laughed when he suggested that the children were getting married.

Parents are unaware that their children are marrying themselves by making mischief, and they don’t know it. The children will not return to their parents when they leave to fetch water and firewood on time. They also get you arrested if they beat you, claiming that they have the right to do so. These children are trouble for us, he said.

However, this was not the view of an elderly woman, who believed that parents were directly to blame.

We are the ones to blame as parents. She said that once our husbands have bought beer and given fertiliser bags, they send our daughters there so that they can keep getting beer.

Another participant stated that the children were digging themselves graves through drug and alcohol abuse.

The First Lady replied that this was why she was traveling across the country with her Nhanga/Gota/Ixhiba program to teach children, impart values and promote morality.

The community begged the First Ladies to bring back her educational programme for their children.

Anxious Masuka, Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Resettlement Minister, also participated. He stated that the country must appreciate the value of land and ensure it is used productively.

Vision 2030, which aims to make us a country with a high income, cannot be discussed without tobacco. This is the only way to make money as an agro-based nation. He said that the First Lady urged all farmers to plant trees after clearing their land.

Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs Minister Mary Mliswa–Chikoka praised First Lady for her valuable teachings about the need to protect our environment.

Your visit to this area has reinforced the foundations laid in the Forestry commission’s belief that trees are essential for life and should therefore be protected. She challenged everyone to plant trees in the places they live.

Barbara Rwodzi, deputy minister of Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, echoed similar sentiments.

As a Ministry, it was a pleasure to have Amai in Hurungwe. She helped us replace trees that had been cut during tobacco farming. As we all know, this area, Mashonaland East, is more important for tobacco farming. When the season begins, tobacco farmers cut a lot of trees. Amai, our patron for the ministry, is keen to travel across the country every year and plant trees, as we have seen in the past.

People need to be aware that trees must be cut for production purposes. We encourage the planting of trees that are quick to grow to replace the trees we would have cut. Deputy Minister Rwodzi expressed her gratitude to the First Lady for her example. Trees are life and trees are everything to us.

Croton trees can grow fast and their biomas (wood quantity), is just as good as those of gum trees. It is great for tobacco curing, biodiversity, and doesn’t affect soils or get affected by diseases.

Secretary for Ministry Mr Munesu Munodawafa warned that firewood poachers could be arrested.

We encourage the planting of trees but have been faced with rampant selling of firewood from indigenous trees. We have increased our campaign and anyone selling firewood for commercial use will be arrested. It is permissible to cut firewood for domestic use, but it is against the law to do so for commercial purposes.

One of the village heads, Mr. Mucherwa Washinton, thanked the First Lady for her dedication to protecting the environment.

Amai came to my house as part of a program to plant trees. I want Amai to be thanked. We are tobacco producers and trees are very important because we have to replant trees if we chop down trees for tobacco curing. We will organize programs where we all teach each other about the importance of trees. This helps to reduce erosion. The soil can be washed away if trees are removed. Hurungwe was lagging behind in tree-planting. He stated that Tobacco farmers were removing trees without replanting, and that we would teach them as village leaders that trees must also be planted.

Mrs Massy Chawasema stated that she was grateful for the First Lady’s visit. She has come to encourage us all to plant trees so that we don’t have difficulty finding firewood. We women struggle if we don’t have firewood to cook with. We know it is crucial to plant trees. She stated that all trees, even those with medicinal properties, were being felled because of reckless cutting.

Sekuru Douglas Mfukidze claimed that he was an environmentalist and started planting trees in 1968. He encouraged other villages to continue the program.

Chief Chundu Mr Abel Mbasera, Chief Chundu Mr Abel Mbasera, voted in thanks to the First Lady. He said that the tree planting initiative has many benefits.

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