By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Calabar

A Non Governmental Organization, Rural Infrastructure Services for Under-Served population, RISE-UP, has advocated the planting of Gnetum Africanum otherwise known as ‘Okazi’, ‘Afang’ or ‘Eru’ in our environment in order to protect.

The Chairman of RISE-UP, Joseph Niyi Adegun who made the advocacy in a Community Capacity Building Workshop for Environmental Protection, Natural Resources Conservation and Increased Income in Wula, Boki Local Government Area of Cross River State said that apart from the economic importance of this vegetable, it could be used to protect the environment.

The vegetable Mr. Adegun noted if planted around the environment would help to protect the area from some environmental hazards. According to him, “when it is cultivated, it does not require the cutting down of trees around it, it helps in the preservation of the forest and the protection of the environment”, he said.

He said that the Republic of Cameroon has gone into vegetative propagation of this vegetable and that the NGO, RISE-UP is planning to replicate the feat in Nigeria so as not to allow it go into extinct. He noted with regret that Nigeria today import over 4000 tons of Afang annually from Cameroon despite the large forest the country is blessed with.

Mr. Adegun disclosed the NGO’s readiness to enter into collaborations with some States government to train their farmers on the cultivation of this vegetable which he said if well handled will give about N500,000.00 every six months.

He said as it is used for the protection of the environment, it is also capable of changing the economic fortune of any family that embarks on the cultivation of the vegetable. The RISE-UP chairman said before now the vegetable was common in any nearby bush, but as time went on and due to lack of interest in cultivating it, it is rarely found in the farms.

“Very soon, agriculture will die in our society. It is now left to the old people and that is why we want to train youths on how to cultivate it. We want government to give us 100 youths and one hectare of land, we will get the youths raise up a nursery, when it is matured, it will be transplanted to the land, the youths will water it and after that we will teach them how to harvest it and also get a market for them”, he said. Also Speaking, the Cross River State commissioner for Environment, Mr. Eddy Ogon called on the NGO to sensitize the people on the importance of Afang and that it could be domesticated in the local environment.

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