The National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi (Nasfam) has embarked on an innovative tree planting initiative involving schools which will plant trees and woodlots around their school community to ensure the survival of the trees.
The Make Schools Green Campaign is targeting 50 schools in 22 districts and will partner with corporate entities and individuals.
Nasfam chief executive officer Betty Chinyamunyamu said in an interview on Friday the campaign will incorporate climate change mitigation, nutrition through the planting of grafted fruit trees to ensure they bear earlier, and woodlots which will make the schools attractive.
The rate of deforestation in Malawi is ranked fourth in the world and second in Africa but efforts to replant trees have been hampered by a low survival rate, according to Nasfam.
“This campaign will inculcate the value of planting trees among school children who will in turn encourage parents to plant trees,” she said.
Chinyamunyamu added that the orchards would improve nutrition levels of children in the districts where Nasfam operates where it has been noted that cash crop growing areas have the highest levels of malnourished children.
“We plan that each school will plant 300 trees in an orchard,” Chinyamunyamu said.
By partnering with corporate entities, Chinyamunyamu said this would take care of the low capacity by the companies to be assured that the trees they plant have high survival rates.
A K1.2 million investment per school will establish an orchard, woodlot and distribute notebooks to schools whose trees have an 80 percent or higher survival rate while Nasfam will train and support the schools if the trees and orchard are attacked by pests and diseases.
So far, Alliance One has sponsored 60 000 tree seedlings, Premium Tama has supported 10 000 trees while FDH has committed to support two schools, Nico General Insurance, Old Mutual and Candlex Ltd have committed to support one school each.
The campaign is part of the Dziko Lathu Nthaka Yathu Initiative supported by the government of Ireland and the Royal Norwegian embassy tact of climate change. n