First Lady spearheads planting of 20 million trees Minister of State and Devolution for Manicaland Nokuthula Matsikenyere, who was representing Environment and Tourism patron First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa, hands over trees to Chief Zimunya during the National Tree Planting Day programme in Mutare on Monday. — Pictures: Tinai Nyadzayo

Tendai Gukutikwa Mutare Bureau

THROUGH the able leadership of the Patron for Environment and Tourism, the First Lady, Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa, in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, nearly 20 million trees were planted last year.

In a speech read on her behalf by Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Minister Nokhutula Matsikenyere at the National Tree Planting Day Commemorations held in Dora in the peri-urban of Mutare yesterday, Dr Mnangagwa said she was spearheading the reforestation initiative across all provinces in the country and she will not stop until Zimbabwe was green again.

“As the patron of Environment and Tourism, I will make sure that we re-green the country and prevent it from becoming a desert,” she said. “I thank the traditional leadership and community for working together with me.

“Reforestation is one of the programmes that were introduced by President Mnangagwa as stated in the National Development Strategy (NDS1). It is the President’s vision to see everyone joining in on programmes that have to do with the development of the country.

“The planting of trees is one such programme which is important to the country, so let us work together and support the Green Economies initiative.”

Dr Mnangagwa said trees benefited the country’s tourism industry and as a result helped towards improving the country’s GDP.

She discouraged tobacco farmers and other members of the community from cutting down trees as this put the country at risk of falling victim to climate change effects.

Dora High School students plant trees during a programme organised by First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa in Mutare on Monday

Tobacco farmers need energy for tobacco curing and Dr Mnangagwa is encouraging them to replace the trees they would have cut down.

To support this, Amai Mnangagwa is giving tobacco farmers countrywide gum trees to plant for their own woodlots.

“We all know that Manicaland is at risk of falling prey to climate change effects like floods and landslides, evidenced by what happened with Cyclone Idai in 2019,” she said.

“We can reduce the damages of climate change by not cutting down trees and planting more trees in such areas. Let us play our part and plant more trees.”

The tree of the year is ‘muhute’.

She planted ‘muhute’ at Dora High School, while encouraging the community to go and plant the trees she donated to them.

“This tree does not only provide fruit to us, but to animals as well. It only takes three years to start producing fruit,” she said.

In a speech read on his behalf by Deputy Director in his Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Mr Tanyaradzwa Mundoga, Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu, said the planting of 19,7 million trees was only made possible by the First Lady who committed to be the frontrunner in the tree planting and forestry conservation campaign for the past four years.

The Ministry has a target of planting 25 million trees annually.

“The First Lady’s efforts have not been in vain because tree planting has taken centre stage in many development programmes in the country,” said Minister Ndlovu. “This will also help in moving the country forward towards the attainment of the Vision 2030, as well as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“My ministry pursuant to the target given to us by Government has embarked on a massive tree planting targeting 25 million trees annually. This target demands that everyone at all levels of society play their role and be part of the solution as we seek to address and reverse the impacts of deforestation experienced in the country over the years.”

Acting Chief Zimunya said as traditional leadership, they were helping the cause by discouraging the cutting down of trees, while encouraging the tree planting culture.

“The air that we breathe is produced by trees just like the shade that we enjoy when it is hot,” he said.

“Trees are our lives and we are teaching this to our communities. While we had people cutting down trees unnecessarily before, we are discouraging it now and introducing an everyday tree planting culture in the area.

“This is all because of Amai Mnangagwa’s encouragement and we promise you that we will help you to reach the target of planting 25 million trees annually.”

A Zimunya villager, Mrs Abigail Makono, said as rural women, they adopted the tree planting culture to emulate the First Lady.

“While these trees are life, they are also our children’s inheritance, which means that even if we die today, our children and their children will still enjoy those fruits forever and ever,” she said. “Because of the First Lady, we have also adopted a tree planting culture in our communities so that we help re-green the Zimunya area.”

Another villager, Mrs Virginia Gonora, applauded Amai Mnangagwa for donating fruit trees to the community, saying this will enable them to have orchards at their homes.

“We have been given fruit trees that we will go and plant at our homes,” she said. “We are happy because the gesture will, not only benefit us, but future generations. We were having problems due to deforestation in Zimunya, but Amai Mnangagwa’s green economies programme has come as a solution to that.”

Ward 35 resident, Mrs Tineyi Kanjera, praised the First Lady for taking the reforestation programme to schools and educating young children on the importance of growing trees.

“I am happy because the First Lady is, not only teaching this tree planting culture to adults, but she has taken the reforestation programme to schools,” she said.

“She is teaching and raising awareness against deforestation among our children as evidenced by what we are seeing at Dora High School today.

“Thank you so much Amai Mnangagwa, now our children know that trees are life and that they should not be cut, but planted all over.”

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