The Ministry of Land and Forestry has unveiled a plan to plant 225,440 fruit trees across the country in this financial year in partnership with stakeholders, a project that will contribute to the fight against malnutrition.
The move follows last week’s cabinet resolutions in which the Government announced plans to plant agro-forestry trees on 38,119 hectares, classic trees on 4,800 hectares as it moves to restore some 670 hectares of degraded forests.
Emmanuel Uwizeye, the Head of Forestry unit at the Ministry of Land and Forestry, told The New Times that in this fiscal year government has earmarked Rwf4 billion to spend on scaling up the tree planting exercise across the country.
“Every district has designed areas for planting different types of trees starting in October but the most targeted area is the Eastern Province, such as in the districts of Nyagatare, Gatsibo, Rwamagana, Kayonza and others that don’t have enough forests,” Uwizeye said.
Fruit trees will mainly be planted around the most vulnerable households and schools which were selected by government.
“The selection is ongoing while others can buy a tree at Rwf500 since it helps improve nutrition in families,” Uwizeye said.
The ministry said it is working with stakeholders like the Reserve Force, nongovernment organisations and cooperatives which played a role in tree seed multiplication.
The Government intends to distribute over 12 species of agro-forestry trees and 8 species of fruit trees such as avocados, mangoes, papayas, lemon trees, oranges and tree tomatoes, which grow in short period.
The Governor of Eastern Province, Fred Mufulukye, told The New Times that they have allocated Rwf2 billion to planting different species of trees in the region, which faces possible desertification.
He said the trees will be planted in various areas including schools, on roads and streets, in farms and others
Charles Karangwa, the Country Representative and Regional Forest Landscape Restoration Coordinator at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), said that; “We still have a challenge of trees from the colonial period. For instance, 80 per cent of trees planted in Rwanda are eucalyptuses, which consume a lot of nutrients and impede growing of other crops. Putting so much focus on agroforestry, fruit trees and traditional tree species will ensure soil fertility, fight malnutrition and forest cover.”
During last week’s sector dialogue on Greening Rwanda, Eng. Coletha Ruhamya, the Director General of REMA, said that valuing conservation of natural resources, such as forests, water and land, ensures the development of agriculture contributes to fighting hunger.
She said that the agriculture sector cannot develop if the whole ecosystem is not preserved.