The Federal Ministry of Environment says it is making efforts to repackage the Presidential initiative on Afforestation and Desert control, to ensure its sustainability.
Mr Salisu Dahiru, the Acting Director, Forestry Department, said this in Wednesday in Abuja that the project was designed to raise 40 million seedlings and plant them across the country.
According to him, each state is to plant one million seedlings while research institutes will plant three million seedlings.
“The Federal Government is now looking at efforts to repackage the entire programme such that every activity from planning, initiation, project implementation and monitoring is going to be done by the communities.
“All the government will do is to create an enabling environment through capacity building, awareness creation and through funding support to enable them to raise these seedlings, plant these seedlings from their ancestral land to existing forest, to even their farm lands, nurture them, protect them.`
Dahiru explained that the two key focus of the project were the planting of economic and indigenous trees.
He highlighted the economic benefits of locust beans, saying that it could be consumed as food.
He urged Nigerians to take advantage of the opportunities offered by locust beans, saying; “All of us in Nigeria know that `dawadawa` (locust beans) can be used for both economic and food purposes; you can have that on your farms, and you can have it even in schools“.
“The foods are harvested and are commodities for trade and if we go further to process them, it will also create additional jobs.
“But today in the North, they have finished most of the timber tree pieces; today the locust beans trees are used for timber.
“The shea butter trees that you see in the North that they are using to make mortar and pestle are also being used for timber; Gmelina that was grown mainly for paper is now being used for timber.“
Dahiru, who described the situation as alarming, said that a lot of work needed to be done to reverse the ugly trend in the forestry sector.
The objective of the Presidential Initiative on Afforestation is to combat desertification, mitigate the effects of drought as well as curtail the impact of climate change on the country.
It is also expected to provide employment for the youth, women and other vulnerable groups especially in the rural communities.