Kingsley U.N. Chikwendu —
At a flagging-off ceremony of distribution of tree seedlings by the Kebbi State Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources in the state capital, Birnin-Kebbi, the governor, Atiku Bagudu, yesterday said the state has commenced the distribution of 40,000 economic tree seedlings to the public across the 21 Local Government Areas to improve afforestation in the state.
The economic tree seedlings distributed included orange, mango, date, moringa, cashew, pawpaw, guava, banana, among others.
Bagudu, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Umar Babale-Yauri, said the government would continue to empower farmers and other residents to improve their income.
The governor also said that the aim was to enhance afforestation, check desertification and make the environment habitable.
“This is personally targeted at boosting both the environment as well as economy of our farmers.“We don’t only plant trees, we also look at our environment to make it habitable and combat desertification at the same time, he said.
“It is the conviction of the state government that we have to empower our farmers, not only in terms of agricultural inputs, but also in other areas that can give the farmers a source of capital income. This shows how committed the staff of the ministry are, and shows that youths have been put into the ministry.
“That is why we are seeing new innovations which are very good to the government and the people of the state,” the governor said.
Earlier, the Commissioner for Environment and Natural resources, Malam Hayatu Bawa, said: “We have about 40,000 of these trees here that are meant for the general public.
“We would try to be just in distributing them and we would distribute the seedlings to local government areas across the state; targeting the identified farmers.
“This will help us to control desertification, knowing fully well that the desertification is one of our major environmental challenges, not only in Kebbi State, but across Nigeria.
“We are losing 3.5 per cent of our land to desertification every year. And the distribution of the seedlings is one way to contain this problem.
”Bawa commended the governor for supporting the ministry and disclosed plans to commence massive tree planting across the state, to reinforce the afforestation system.
“We want to roll out much afforestation in the state and we are also trying to improve our forest reserves.
“We have 20 forest reserves in the state. Some of these forest reserves are being attacked by the people to make charcoal, we are trying to prevent this from continuing,” he said.
The commissioner, however, appealed to the state government to allow the ministry to recruit forest rangers, to replace those who retired.