Ekiti State Government has pledged to empower 100 farmers in the state to plant 5,000 hectares of trees under the World Bank sponsored Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP).
The government also said that the project would employ another 450 farmers for the regeneration of the highly depleted nine forest reserves owned by the state.
The State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, disclosed this in Ikere Ekiti, on Wednesday, at a sensitisation and advocacy programme on forest protection and regeneration programme.
The governor, represented by the Commissioner for Environment, Mrs Iyabo Fakunle Okieimen, added that the scheme would support government’s quest to achieve environmental and economic security for the state.
“In the area of community participation, a total of 450 farmers will be identified to participate in the conventional planting within the nine forest reserves while a total of 100 interested farmers will be mobilised to plant 50 hectares of woodlots and orchard, respectively,” Fayemi said.
The governor said NEWMAP’s “primary objective is to carry the stakeholders and identify factors that can enhance rehabilitation of areas prone to low, medium and high menace of land degradation caused by bush burning, indiscriminate tree felling and flooding.”
The programme will also encourage plantation agriculture, fight poverty and increase the economic viability of tree planting in Ekiti, he added.
The NEWMAP Coordinator in Ekiti, Mr Seyi Adegbola, said the programme will address challenges of gully erosion, environmental disaster, economic wastages and climate change in the state.
“If you check all the nine forest reserves we have, nothing is there again. They are depleted and we are losing millions of naira daily.
“But with NEWMAP, 450 farmers will be employed to replant the lost trees and in the medium and long term, we will have cause to laugh”.
In his presentation entitled: “Best Way to Protect and Regenerate Forest reserves in Ekiti State”, an environmental expert, Mr Bunmi Olatiilu, revealed that forests potentials can turn around the fortunes of the state through lumbering business and recreational purposes, if properly harnessed.
The environmetalist said good aforestation policy can also provide employment for farmers, hunters, researchers, educational institutions, sawmillers and other businesses.
“For government to ensure forest sustainability, to maintain our climatic and ecosystem, stakeholders should encourage tree planting and train experts in plantation agriculture for the survival of our environment,” Olatiilu said.