Government targets three million orange trees Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water Climate and Rural Development chief director Professor Obert Jiri

Harare Bureau
GOVERNMENT is targeting to plant three million orange trees across the country to improve nutrition and pollinator species which are declining, posing a threat to the country’s food security.

Chief Director for Agricultural Advisory and Rural Development Services, Professor Obert Jiri, recently told a beekeepers’ symposium that was held at Gwebi College of Agriculture that the extinction of pollinators could spell disaster for the nation and as Agritex they were rolling out a programme that is targeting to plant at least 10 trees per household.

“At Agritex we have a programme looking at planting three million orange trees in Zimbabwe. If you go to Henderson, there is a plantation with a nursery of over 2 million trees which we are going to distribute to each and every household,” he said.
Prof Jiri said every household should have a beehive, a scenario that would see Zimbabwe becoming a major exporter of honey.

“For every household that has 10 trees there must be a beehive and we think that the flowers would be enough to attract bees, therefore, we are in that drive to make sure that there is a beehive at least every household.”

This is coming after President Mnangagwa launched the National Borehole Drilling Programme which will see the drilling of up to 35  000 boreholes across provinces, all equipped with solar systems to anchor the Presidential Rural Horticulture Transformation Plan.

Prof Jiri said they are already rolling out a nutrition garden programme utilising the boreholes.

“As you are aware the Government is drilling 35  000 boreholes, there will a borehole in each village. We are putting a nutrition garden and planting trees there. The nutrition gardens will provide flowers that are enough to attract pollinators so definitely we are going to put a beehive or more at each and every nutrition garden. It means we will have at least 35 000 beehives,” he said.

Bees and other pollinators are declining in large numbers across Zimbabwe and the entire world largely due to intensive farming practices, mono-cropping, excessive use of agricultural chemicals and higher temperatures associated with climate change.

Dr Nyembezi Mgocheki, an Entomologist at Bindura University of Science Education, said the integration of organic and conservation agricultural farming practices among farmers will reduce over-dependence on indiscriminate use of chemicals.

“Loss of bee populations is a threat to global food security. People are using banned chemicals and some are not registered. Some chemicals are registered but they pose a great danger to the bee population as some bees lose memory and become useless.”

The chairperson of the Bee Keepers Association, Mr Chaipa Mutandwa, said besides planting more trees, there is a need for awareness campaigns on how to handle chemicals.

“Fumigators must be known and an inventory of the chemicals they use and discourage created. There is also a need to engage manufacturers, distributors, and fumigators to sponsor the putting up of billboards with educative information along or on key production areas or territories”.

Oranges are an excellent source of various bioactive plant compounds that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.

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