Farmer grows the seed for climate change future

Tackling deforestation and rural poverty, a farmer from Esigodini area in Matabeleland South has set up an indigenous tree seed centre.

Ishmael Penyai with some of the sack pots he uses to grow his trees.
Ishmael Penyai with some of the sack pots he uses to grow his trees.

Ishmael Penyai said the main objective of the project was to grow and supply high quality indigenous tree species for Zimbabwe and other countries in the region. “Providing I get enough support, this project will also be able to assist in curbing de-forestation and in improving the social and economic life of rural people in SADC countries,” said Penyai.

Apart from providing fruits, fodder and other tree services to the rural communities, Penyai said the project would also ensure a continuing supply of indigenous tree seed in the region. “We have identified seven schools in Botswana that are interested in partnering with me in the project. Under this project, I will be periodically supplying the schools with our own indigenous trees, such as musosobiya and afzeliaquanzensis. Under this arrangement, I am also intending to source Indigenous trees from that country, such as lonchocarpus, capassa and leucocephala, which I will distribute to our own schools,” he said.

He said his ultimate goal was to establish a regional network of indigenous tree-growers who would identify regional priority and important species that needed to be conserved.

Penyai said his wish was to see the project extended to particularly arid regional countries, such as Namibia and Mozambique. “There is need for a holistic approach to the region’s climate change challenges, which have made life extremely difficult especially for the poor.

We need a common approach to fighting climate change and global warming. Apart from climate change issues, many other issues of regional significance also relate to tree genetic resources,” he added.

Penyai also grows snake repellent shrubs at his plot, and he gives these for free to communities living in snake-infested areas.

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