Zambia Integrated Forestry Landscape Project (ZIFLP) National Coordinator, Tasila Banda says Eastern Province is by end of this year targeting to plant 2.5 million agro-forestry tree species which improves soil fertility.
Dr Banda said the agro trees will empower farmers to improve production and help to mitigate effects of climate change.
She stated that the tree species will be distributed to farmers for them to engage in agro forestry, which is one of the interventions being supported under the ZIFLP project funded by the World Bank.
Dr Banda further said about five million tree species of Musangu and gliricidia are being targeted to be planted by 2021.
She explained that it has been realized that it is important to incorporate farmers in reviving forests by utilizing individual farm lands.
“We want to take advantage of the fact that Eastern province is predominantly agriculture, so that farmers use the same fields to grow crops and grow trees that are not only beneficial to the crops but have other uses as well,” she said.
Dr Banda noted that government, with the help of its partners was working to address climate change, stating that it is important to bring every stakeholder on board.
Meanwhile, Provincial Agricultural Coordinator (PACO), Alex Chilala said the agro-forestry tree nurseries have been established at six Farmer Training Centers in Chadiza, Petauke, Lundazi, Katete, Mambwe and Chipata.
“Chadiza has a target to plant 296, 010, Chipata has 634, 172, Katete is working with 471, 020 trees, 141,570 trees will be grown in Mambwe and 470, 027 in Lundazi while Petauke targets 567,600. This gives us a total of 2, 580, 399 for this season alone,” Mr Chilala said.
He explained that the two species being promoted are multi-purpose trees saying they are able to fix nitrogen in the soil to restore fertility and produce poles for construction purposes, among others.
Mr Chilala said through the adoption of agro-forestry, farmers are able to increase their yields without having to expand their fields, as tree species like musangu and gliricidia are confirmed to be fertility fixing trees.
“Expansion of cultivation land is directly linked to deforestation. This is why we are promoting agro-forestry. This will allow our farmers to work with smaller pieces of land without compromising on their yields,” he added.
Mr Chilala thanked the World Bank for funding ZIFLP, adding that it is the Ministry’s desire to see the concept sustained beyond the end of the project.
Meanwhile the agro-forestry undertaking has created 180 jobs in the six districts, with at least 30 members from the local community engaged to pot-fill, plant and water seedlings.
Nofta Malunga is one of the locals engaged in the project in Petauke and explains that she has been able to sponsor her child to school using the money she raises from working with ZIFLP.
“I am grateful that government is considering us, as women by empowering us in this manner. The money that we are able to raise from here is making a huge difference in our lives,” she said.
She added that she has been able to replicate the skills she has acquired and is currently raising her own nursery.