First Lady plants trees in Guruve tobacco farming area
Blessings Chidakwa in GURUVE
First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, who is the country’s patron for environment, yesterday took her ongoing nationwide reforestation programme to Mashonaland Central Province where she led from the front in planting thousands of trees with the Guruve community.
Guruve is one of the biggest tobacco farming areas in the country.
To mitigate the effects of climate change and curb erosion among many other environmental challenges, Amai Mnangagwa is going around the country’s 10 provinces promoting afforestation urging communities to plant trees from household level.
Yesterday, together with the communities, the First Lady planted indigenous and exotic trees at Vilvekia farm.
She taught the community on the importance of planting trees saying it was difficult to separate trees from the lives of people.
“Let us avoid desertification through deforestation. We must all plant trees so that even the future generations benefit. At every household level you should plant trees including fruit trees,” she said.
The First Lady urged the nation to keep planting trees to avoid deforestation as investigations carried out by the Forestry Commission showed that since 2010 there was a decrease in terms of deforestation from 330 000 hectares annually to 262 000.
“Let us take a leaf from other countries like India that are creating forests. As patron of environment, through Government we want to make plans that ensures sustainable environment without cutting down of trees even in tobacco farming areas.
“In some instances trees grow up to 100 years, so let us preserve them. I urge you to keep growing tobacco, but being mindful of the need to plant trees and each time replacing the ones you cut down,” she said.
Amai Mnangagwa said courtesy of the Second Republic, there was a programme by the Forestry Commission to give people indigenous and exotic trees freely.
“There is Tobacco Wood Energy programme in which farmers are being given free trees that are conducive in their respective areas. So grab that opportunity and contribute to reforestation” she said.
Amai Mnangagwa pleaded with small scale miners to temporarily stop mining activities especially during the rainy season to avoid being trapped inside.
“Please for now come back home and help assist weeding the fields when the rains are over then resume your mining operations. For those that are yet to marry utilise the rainy season break and do the right thing. We want well-mannered artisanal miners,” she said.
Amai Mnangagwa also took time to tackle social ills.
“No to domestic violence, divorces, child marriages and unwanted pregnancies with unknown fathers. I hail from this province and it pains my heart that statistics show that most child marriages are from this area.
“Drug abuse among both men and women should be highly condemned. I hear people are taking illicit drugs as mutoriro netumbwa please abstain from such acts.
“Do not destroy your future,” she said.
The down to earth mother of the nation also kneeled before Chief Bepura and wife to greet them before handing them over an assortment of groceries.
Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Deputy Minister Barbra Rwodzi who was among the guests urged the community to fully grasp the First Lady’s teachings on reforestation.
Forestry Commission Director General Mr Abedinico Marufu said the First Lady as the patron for environment has been successfully steering the reforestation exercise over the years.
“Amai, the First Lady is so passionate about reforestation and has been moving around across the country mostly in tobacco farming areas to make sure that cut down trees are replanted. Tobacco brings a lot of forex, but has been highly contributing to deforestation. 260 000 hectares has been lost annually due to deforestation.
“The threat of deforestation is that farmers may end up failing to grow tobacco, but thanks to Amai who is moving around teaching people about importance of reforestation giving people trees. In that regard the future of tobacco farming is guaranteed,” he said.
Mr Marufu said indigenous trees were slowly becoming extinct, while exotic ones were also being destroyed.
“We are actually glad that the rains are favouring us so nothing can stop us from planting trees,” he said.
Chief Bepura born George Bepura said the tree planting programme initiated by Amai was in line with the traditions and customs of the country.
“As chief l have greatly welcomed the initiative since this area has been battling deforestation from tobacco farmers.
“I am grateful for the programme which will preserve our nature in our beloved country as no one can do it for us,” he said.
A villager, Mr Lazarus Nkobwe, hailed the First Lady’s initiative and vowed to teach others on the importance of planting trees.
“Amai has taught us that tree is life. In this area deforestation was high but we are grateful to Amai for teaching us the importance of preserving trees as the future of tobacco industry will be blurry without trees,” he said.
Mrs Maude Chigwida a tobacco farmer in the province was in cloud nine following the tree planting exercise.
“When we were relocated in this area there were a lot of trees, but now there is much deforestation largely attributed to tobacco farming.
“We were taught that on our plots we should at least set aside a hectare or half for tree planting. Through this tree planting, our source of income from tobacco farming will be guaranteed,” she said.
Another beneficiary, Mr Wanky Chigwada, said it was now left upon them to further cascade down the good lessons taught by Amai Mnangagwa.
“The zeal by the First Lady to lead from the front in tree planting exercise should be highly commended. Our hope is that she continues with her good programmes nationwide.
“We will surely take it upon ourselves to replant trees whenever we cut down some for various chores including farming and even use as firewood when cooking,” he said.
Mrs Muchaneta Marime said deforestation had become a major cause for concern in the area.
“We appreciate that we are earning a living from the golden leaf which is one of the country’s major source of forex, but as farmers we are to blame for causing much of the deforestation.
“Following the teachings by Amai as Guruve South villagers we are now taking it upon ourselves to replace each and every tree which we cut down,” she said.