The Minister for Lands and Forestry, Francine Tumushime, has emphasised the need for agroforestry practices in farming communities as the push for integrated and sustainable land-use systems to restore degraded landscape gain momentum.
The minister made the call on Saturday in Ngoma District where she joined residents in the monthly communal work, Umuganda, which was held in Sake Sector.
The exercise was also attended by Inspector of Police (IGP) Emmanuel Gasana.
During the exercise, participants, who included police officers and members of Rwanda Youth Volunteers in Community Policing, cleared at least 100 hectares of land where trees will be planted come next month when the tree planting season is scheduled to start.
The minister said that concerted efforts will help achieve the ultimate goal, commending Rwanda National Police (RNP) for its contribution toward environmental conservation, particularly through planting of trees.
RNP has over time planted at least 400 hectares of trees in different parts of the country.
Last year, the Force signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Lands and Forestry to work together to protect, conserve and develop the country’s land and forestry.
Under the deal, the two institutions expect to plant at least 27, 000 hectares of trees in a period spanning five years – 5, 000 hectares of hilly areas and 22, 000 hectares on agroforestry areas.
Since then, RNP and the youth volunteers have planted about 50, 000 trees across the country.
“You came in big numbers today and that’s why we have managed to clear such a big area (100 hectares) where trees will be planted. This shows that when people come together nothing is impossible,” minister Tumushime told the residents.
She observed that Eastern Province has fewer forests, noting that if nothing is done to plant more trees, the region could easily plunge into a desert.
RNP, under its afforestation programme, plans to plant about 14,744 hectares of trees in Eastern Province alone.
The minister further urged residents to not only plant trees in farms but also in their homesteads, and to take the necessary care of trees to ensure their proper growth.
On his part, IGP Gasana said that sustainable security includes protecting oneself, being protected and jointly working together against crime through community policing.
He also commended the role of the youth volunteers in crime prevention efforts through increasing awareness and human security.
The youth group, which is composed of over 260, 000 members drawn from across the country, is actively involved in building houses for the poor, planting trees, rehabilitating and creating roads linking communities, among others.
Since its establishment in 2013 Rwanda Youth Volunteers in Community Policing’s activities are valued at over Rfw630 million.
IGP Gasana challenged residents to embrace community policing initiatives that promote information sharing, ‘neighbourhood watch’, Irondo (night patrols), among others, to help fight crimes like drug trafficking and abuse, family conflicts, gender based violence, and child abuse.
“We have many villages across the country that are free of crime and this shows that where people work together communities become safer and more secure. This requires everyone to be responsible and stand up against criminal activities, and ensure that suspects are identified, reported and arrested,” IGP Gasana said.
Community-centre policing has been credited with increased safety and security in the country.