By Emmanuel Elebeke

The Federal Government says it has set aside N10 billion to halt desert encroachment in the Northern part of the country.

The Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku made this known in Katsina State, during an inspection visit of a tree planting project in Karami area of the State.

The Minister said the fund became necessary to enable Nigeria build a green wall as part of efforts to check   desert encroachment, especially in the northern part of the country, which is fast losing their farming lands to desertification.

In addition to this step, Maku said that the Federal government had also set up various committees in collaboration with the state governments to begin a huge tree planting exercise across the country, especially the affected states of the North, a wall that is expected to   cut across all over the West Africa.

“The Federal government is about to start the green wall programme, which has been agreed upon by all African countries to halt the advance of Sahara. This programme has been going in several countries and Nigeria has set aside N10b, through the Ministry of Environment  for this and has set various committees with the State governments to begin a huge tree planting exercise, which is a wall that will cut across all over the West Africa, more especially the northern Nigeria,” he said.

He commended the Katsina State Government for putting up structures on ground to tackle the menace of desert encroachment in the state and for making it a policy to encourage tree planting across the state.

He also called on the state government to initiate programmes that would engender competition among the people of the state in tree planting and reward those who distinguish themselves by planting more trees.

Maku further urged the state government to interface with the federal government and prepare its people for the green wall exercise to add to what they have already achieved.

“We are happy that since we came to North West zone, this is the first tree planting project we are visiting. We have been going around the zone and everywhere we went, we have picked up these issues. We are happy that in Katsina, there is a sustainable programme for aforestration to halt the advance of Sahara desert.

Earlier in his address, the Special Adviser to the Governor on tree planting, Abdulahi Ibrahim, said that the Karamni   woodlot plantation was established in 2011 to provide fuel wood and sustainable grazing for the people of the state. He statedthat the government of Katsina state had since then placed three planting and aforestration among its priority in the state, particularly in the areas of public enlightenment and awareness campaign.

He stated that the decision was informed by the conviction of the state government that desertification can pose a dangerous threat to the livelihood and survival of people and livestocks and so decided to put structures in place as a way of intervention to desert encroachment and soil erosion in the state, through planting of fertilizer based and other processing plants.

‘’This was a barren place, but we had to employ over 10500 youths from every local government to carry out clearing,   preparation and for tree planting . The plantation is a multi purpose established on sustainable basis. Having realized the importance, People are encouraged to plant trees in the state. We have forest clubs in over 30 primary schools, where we teach children how to plant trees, so that we can protect our land from forest degradation. Traditional rulers are also helping us in this respect,” Ibrahim said.

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