Re-forestation rewards local man

A one-week workshop organised by the Forestry Commission in conjunction with the Agriculture Extension Services in 1997 has made all of the difference to Edzai Panoreka’s life.

A mango seedling grown from pips that Panoreka collected.
A mango seedling grown from pips that Panoreka collected.

There is massive deforestation in the rural areas of Bikita and there has been massive land degradation as a result.

“The proportion of land degradation is so high in my area. People are indiscriminately cutting down trees for firewood and to fence their gardens. We receive very little rainfall here, hence the shift towards gardening where people dig wells along rivers to irrigate their crops as a way of mitigating the perennial food shortages,” said Headman Mutsinzwa.

Cyclones that hit the area eight years ago seriously damaged the environment. Fields were washed away and so were people’s crops. Dongas now criss-cross the area, leaving little room for agriculture and the construction of roads.

In the midst of this chaos, Panoreka, realising that the area could soon turn into a desert, took the initiative to grow fruit trees on a large scale.

“At first, I went to almost every township around our area to pick up mango seeds thrown away by people. I turned my entire garden into a mango nursery. Within a short time I had raised over 5,000 mango seedlings,” Panoreka said.

Panoreka left some to grow in his garden and planted the remainder beside his home and in his field.

“In three years time, the mango trees bore fruit and in no time I was the best supplier of mangoes in Bikita east constituency. Vendors swarmed my homestead to buy the mangoes for resale at Chikuku, Boora, Mandadzaka, Gedhe Maranganyika and Mushuku townships,” Panoreka said.

With the money earned from the sale of mangoes and mango seedlings, Panoreka said he managed to send his children to school and buy enough food for his family.

“Before growing mangoes, I was extremely poor I would move around the village selling wheelbarrows of firewood and digging up people’s wells for a song. I had become a social misfit since I used to beg for money to keep my children in school,” Panoreka said. “Apart from reducing soil erosion, trees also provide us with oxygen and reduce the destruction of the ozone layer. Above all, I can proudly say I am now rich from growing these trees because I now export the mangoes to South Africa.”

He is now a proud owner of a Master Farmer’s Certificate, courtesy of AREX and has received numerous awards from the Forestry commission.

“I am teaching other subsistence farmers in our area to grow citrus trees like oranges and lemons. Gum trees are also being extensively grown on mountain slopes and soil erosion is being reduced,” added Panoreka.

Post published in: Agriculture

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