By Luminous Jannamike, Abuja

MANY women in Abuja have embraced an initiative to plant fruit trees around the Federal Capital Territory as a tool to ward off the rising wave of climate change, hunger and poverty.

The programme involves the planting of 6,000 saplings of mango, cashew, palm fruits among other fruit varieties in community lands, homesteads, school premises, orphanages, and other places of need.

The fast-growing but high-yielding sapling species were donated to the women by the FCT Administration as a means of tackling hunger and poverty as well as fostering an environmental consciousness and sustainability in the nation’s capital. It will be recalled that Abuja, whose landscape had been shaded by both economic and ornamental trees, is now degraded as a result of indiscriminate felling of trees and building of houses even in unapproved spaces, thereby increasing the emission of carbon dioxide.

As a result, there has been an increasing trend in annual maximum temperature across the nation’s capital, which impacts heavily on human health and general comfort, with an average intensity of 39.9°C usually recorded in the month of March. Disturbed by the need to sequester excess carbon from the atmosphere through reforestation, several women’s groups are working with the authorities to harness the many benefits of planting trees to help keep the Federal Capital City green. Some women, who spoke with Arewa Voice Correspondent at a colourful ceremony to flag-off the 6,000 tree planting exercise, described the initiative as a huge step towards providing nourishment for those worse hit by the growing trend of food insecurity as well as creating economic opportunities for many vulnerable groups in the FCT.

Asked what impact she intends to create with the fruit tree saplings distributed by the FCT Administration, Mrs. Asabe Dan-Azumi, one of the beneficiaries, said: “I will plant these fruit trees in my community (Aleita) to ensure the protection of the environment and provide people with extra income. Within the next 1-3 years, they will begin to enjoy the fruits and hopefully sell the surplus for profit.”

Another beneficiary, Ms. Hannah Timothy, a private school proprietor, said she will plant the tree saplings in the premises of her school to improve the aesthetics of the Institution, raise awareness on the impact of deforestation among her staff and students, as well as promote the protection of the natural environment. “If only the young people we are preparing for the future will become more aware of the benefits of planting economic trees, and actually begin to actually plant economic trees at every opportunity they find, how beneficial would it be both to the nation and to our natural environment? We would be providing our localities with the beauty of a green and a healthier environment,” she told Arewa Voice.

Earlier, the FCT Minister of State, Dr. Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, said the tree planting effort aligned with several Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, of the United Nations, especially in the areas of environmental sanitation, decent work and economic growth as well as climate action and biodiversity conservation. “For us in the FCT, the increasing rise in population and other developmental activities over the years and perhaps the disregard for the planting of trees amongst residents have contributed to worsening the environmental challenges,” she said.

In the same vein, the Mandate Secretary, FCT Social Development Secretariat, Hadiza Kabir, said that the tree planting initiative was a great responsibility, which she said, was aimed at protecting and conserving the environment for the future while improving the aesthetics of the nation’s capital.

She also stated that it will invigorate President Muhammadu Buhari’s global commitment to plant 25,000,000 trees nationwide as Nigeria’s contribution to addressing climate change, global reforestation efforts, and repairing damaged ecosystems. 

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