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 expose 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 Mafukidze led the planting of more that 2 500 croton- and gum trees at Mafukidze Homestead. Traditional leaders and villagers joined her. She also planted the Monkey bread tree (Musekesa), which is the tree for the year. The First Lady presented various types of fruit trees and their locations to the Chiefs of the villages.
She lamented the need to cut down trees without replanting them, which she said exposed the country’s climate to the effects of climate changes.
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.
“We started this programme of planting trees in the communities and giving educations to them, together with the Forestry Commission and Environmental Management Agency (EMA), a few years ago. The First Lady stated that we will continue doing so, but Covid-19 had affected us.
Mother of the Nation, who stressed the importance of following World Health Organisation (WHO), protocols on Covid-19 prevention, said that the theme for the year is: “Trees & forests for ecosystem restoration and improved livelihoods.”
“This theme is crucial for us because climate change. I’m sure you noticed that this year was hot and dry. This affected some crops. I am grateful to the Lord for the abundant rainfall we are receiving throughout the country.
“I remind everyone of the responsibility we all have to protect trees. I urge everyone to plant trees and preserve forests that are beneficial to them. She said that we also get many fruits that help us fight diseases such as Covid-19.”
She led an interactive session for the community, where she wanted to understand why trees were so important.
The villager responses highlighted the importance of trees for oxygen, fruits, medicine, and contributing to rainwater. The First Lady encouraged the community to harvest native vegetables and dry them in the rainy season.
She thanked the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry and Forestry Commission for implementing tree-planting programs.
“I call on all leaders in the country to take part in the planting of trees in their communities. Even legislators can lead people in planting trees. Every year, we see fruit trees being planted in towns and vehicles leaving communal areas. This is a sign that fruit trees can provide income.
Amai Mnangagwa addressed his community and spoke out against domestic violence and child marriages.
One elderly man laughed when he suggested the children were marrying themselves.
“The children are making a mess of their parents and marrying themselves.” They do not return to their parents on time after they leave the house to fetch water and firewood. He said that these children are disturbing us.
However, this was not the view of an elderly woman, who believed that parents were directly to blame.
“As parents, it is our fault. She stated that once husbands have bought beer and given fertiliser bags, their daughters go there to continue getting beer.
Another participant said that the children were digging their own graves by using drugs and alcohol.
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 First Lady to return her educational programme for the benefit 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 an upper-middle income country, cannot be discussed without tobacco. We know that this is what we have to transform as an agrobased country in order to make money. As the First Lady mentioned, I urge all farmers, after clearing their land for agriculture, to plant trees,” he said.
Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs, Devolution Minister Mary Mliswa–Chikoka thanked the First Lady’s valuable teachings on how to protect the environment.
“Your visit here has strengthened the foundations laid out by the Forestry commission, which teaches that trees should be preserved as they are vital to our lives.” She stated that she had issued a challenge to all of us to plant trees where we live.
Barbara Rwodzi, deputy minister of Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, echoed similar sentiments.
“We are very pleased as a Ministry to welcome Amai here in Hurungwe. We were replacing trees that have been cut during tobacco farming. We all know this area, Mashonaland East, is more popular for tobacco farming. Tobacco farmers often cut a lot of trees during their season. Amai, who is our patron for ministry, is keen and happy to travel across the country planting trees each year, just as we did with the previous years.
“People need to know that when trees are cut for production, they must be replaced as soon as possible. As a ministry, we encourage people to plant trees that can quickly grow to replace the ones we would have cut. Many thanks and gratitude to First Lady Zimbabwe for setting an example for us all as Zimbabweans. Trees are life and trees are everything to us,” Deputy Minister Rwodzi said.
Croton trees can grow fast and their biomas (wood quantity), is just as good as those of gum trees. It is useful for curing tobacco, good for biodiversity, and does not harm soils.
Secretary for the Ministry, Munesu Munodawafa warned poachers of firewood that they could be arrested.
“While we encourage tree planting, the rampant selling indigenous trees for wood is a challenge that we have been dealing with lately. We have increased our campaign and will arrest anyone who sells firewood for business purposes. You are allowed to cut firewood to be used for domestic purposes, but not for commercial use.
Register for the AllAfrica Newsletters for Free
Get the latest in African news delivered straight into your inbox
We need to confirm that you have entered your email address.
Please follow the instructions in our email to complete the process.
Your submission was not processed. Please try again later.
One of the village heads, Mr. Mucherwa Washinton, thanked the First Lady for her dedication to protecting the environment.
“I want Amai to know how much I appreciate her coming here to plant trees. As tobacco producers, trees are vital because if we remove trees for tobacco curing, we must replant. 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. Some Tobacco farmers were removing trees without replanting, so we will teach them as village heads that trees should be planted.” he said.
Mrs Massy Chawasema expressed gratitude for the First Lady’s visit. She came to encourage us to plant trees so we don’t have to struggle for firewood. Women struggle when there isn’t enough firewood to cook. We have learned that trees are essential. She said that all trees, including those with medicinal properties, were being cut down because of reckless cutting without caring for their uses.”
Sekuru Douglas Mfukidze claimed that he was an environmentalist and started planting trees in 1968. He encouraged other villager to continue the programme.
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.