By Pamenus Tuso
Oddwell Shayamano, a school headmaster in Zimbabwe’s eastern Chimanimani district in Manicaland Province is running a thriving tree planting project at his homestead in a bid to save the country’s indigenous trees.
The project, Mhakwe Go Green Nurseries, is not only proving to be a money spinner for the lowly paid civil servant, but is also teaching the community to play their part in creating desperately needed carbon sinks in Zimbabwe.
Trees grown to maturity are able to soak up an average of 440 tonnes of atmospheric carbon dioxide per hectare.
“I started this project after realising that a lot of indigenous and endangered trees were fast disappearing in our forests. I care and raise both the exotic and indigenous trees in my nursery.
“I am particularly concerned with endangered species such as mukamba tree (Afzelia quanzensis) and mupfura (malura tree),” said Shayamano in an interview.
Uncontrolled veld fires and the rampant cutting down of trees for fire wood has largely been blamed for the loss of trees.
This stresses the urgent need for alternative energy sources in the country. Trees also help in reversing global warming and keeping global temperatures from rising beyond the dreaded 2 degrees Celsius.
According to the Forestry Commission, Zimbabwe’s indigenous forests have declined from 66 percent in 2000 to 40 percent at end of 2016. Environmental experts say at the current rate, there will be no forests in this country in the next 50 year. This is a development might which may lead to unprecedented socio- economical and environmental problems.
Shayamano plants the trees in well maintained seed beds and tubers. He is also nursing a variety of fruit trees such as avocados, guavas, mangoes, grapes and apples. The headmaster whose passion for trees started at a tender age, said he sources the seeds mostly from schoolchildren and villagers in the area.
“I have placed bins in the school yard where I ask students and teachers to place the seeds of every fruit which they consume at school and their homes.
“Through this arrangement, I have managed to collect a variety of both exotic and indigenous fruits seeds which I dry and then plant in seed beds,” said Shayamano.
Shayamano sells indigenous plant seedlings for $3 each while an exotic plant costs $2.
“Some of my big clients include Africa University, University of Zimbabwe, rural district councils and schools. The Forestry Commission has also been very supportive,” he said.
He also nurses and sells vetiver grass which is used in the reclamation of gullies and wetlands whose depletion has been fast due to illegal activities such as sand extraction for the mushrooming construction developments in the country.
Through the project, Shayamano has been able to send his children to school and university. Shayamano who runs the project with his wife said his major challenge is access to water.
“My wish is to have my own borehole to irrigate the plants. Right now I use water from the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) which is very expensive. I am also planning to move to a more spacious and easily accessible area,” he said.