The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has developed the national greening strategy, which aims to assist municipalities to develop greening plans at local level, and ensure that greening is included in the Integrated Development Plans (IDPs).
Speaking at the launch of National Arbor Week at Cedarville Town Hall in Matatiele in the Eastern Cape on Friday, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana said the greening strategy will support local government, NGOs, community based organisations and the corporate sector to initiate and implement greening interventions.
“This initiative came as a result of addressing the way services were provided in the previous dispensation, where more affluent areas were provided for in terms of greening services, whereas the previously disadvantaged areas, such as townships, were not catered for.
“The main focus of the greening strategy is to uplift previously disadvantaged areas, while maintaining and protecting trees and other elements of greening in areas where they already exist,” Minister Zokwana said.
The Minister warned that the growth in population has serious implications for food security. He said traditional methods of food production and nutrition need to adapt to the changes and growing demands for food.
Population continues to grow
The 2015 World Population Prospects revealed that the world population reached 7.3 billion as of mid-2015, implying that the world has added approximately one billion people in the last 12 years.
According to the report, it is predicted that the world population will continue to grow, and more than half of the global population growth between now and 2050 is expected to occur in Africa.
Minister Zokwana said the report means that primary food production is faced by myriad challenges, amongst them competing natural resources for production, with land being the primary and critical one.
“As food prices go high because of the global economic instability, many South Africans cannot afford to buy healthy food because the basic staples become scarce and expensive. Hence, the department has joined the nation in embarking on greening the nation initiative. A healthy, diverse and productive environment treasured by the whole community,” the Minister said.
Through greening and Climate Smart Agriculture, he said, food insecure households will have access to environmentally-friendly agricultural technologies, resources and training, and capacity to reduce hunger.
Minister Zokwana said forestry, through jobs in rural areas, creates an environment where households derive an income to buy food and other items in the household.
“However, where small growers are involved, small plantations could be integrated with food gardens or cash crops to ensure household food security, while awaiting the trees to grow. Such an agroforestry system could be one of the key pillars for reducing hunger and poverty in both urban and rural areas.”
The department has finalised the development of the Agroforestry Strategy and Implementation Plan. The strategy will be piloted for implementation in phases in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces.
National Arbor Week
National Arbor Week is celebrated from 1 to 7 September every year, where government institutions, schools, communities, businesses and organisations are reminded and encouraged to participate in community "greening" to improve the health and beauty of the local environment.
This year’s Arbor Week is celebrated under the theme ‘Forests and Water’.
Minister Zokwana said the department decided to retain the theme so that while promoting tree planting to mitigate climate change and to address household food security, people are mindful of the fact that they should concentrate on indigenous species that helps to conserve water.