The National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi (NASFAM), has this year (2018) taken an innovative approach to planting trees with the aim of improving their survival rate.
In 2016, NASFAM launched a campaign called Dziko Lathu Nthaka Yathu, which calls upon all Malawians to take an active role in mitigating climate change and its impact, particularly on smallholder farmers. In line with this campaign, this year, NASFAM launched a new strategy called “Green Schools Campaign”, in which it targets schools across the country with tree planting activities.
The Green Schools campaign is targeting 50 schools in 2018 and so far 17 schools have already benefited from the campaign.
NASFAM Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr Betty Chinyamunyamu says the campaign aims at adding value to the targeted schools by establishing woodlots and orchards.
“As an organisation we want to address climate change using initiatives that add value to the targeted schools. Most of the schools we are targeting are prone to adverse weather such as strong winds. As such establishing a live fence around the schools makes them safer from such winds,” says NASFAM CEO.
In addition, Dr Chinyamunyamu says by targeting schools, it gives the organisation an edge in knowledge transfer to the young generation.
She said: “Most of the children go to school, and by targeting them like this, they will grow knowing the importance of trees to the environment. When they grow older and are doing farming or any other enterprise, they will be responsible citizens in terms of managing the environment.
“The initiative has so far reached out to 17 schools of the targeted 50. At each school we have established a woodlot (including a hedge around the school) and an orchard, as a way of promoting fruit intake among school going children.”
Commenting on how the partnerships came about, Chinyamunyamu said most of the partners have previously planted a lot of trees in different places but were disappointed with the poor survival rate. The approach that NASFAM has taken promises to be viable as schools take ownership of the woodlots and the orchards providing assurance to the partners that the investment will yield the intended results.
With the current arrangement, with MK1.225 million Kwacha, an entity is able to sponsor a school to establish an orchard, a woodlot as well as provide incentives for those schools with a tree survival rate of more than 80 percent.
The Green Schools Campaign will run until 2022. In 2018 the initiative has so far seen Alliance One, Premium TAMA, Old Mutual, Nico General, FDH Bank, and MCA Training International taking part. The initiative is also backed by financial support from NASFAM’s donors, Irish Aid and the Norwegian Embassy.