‘Tree planting key in mitigating climate change effects’

FINNISH Ambassador Timo Olkkonen says Zambia should implement a sustainable management of natural resources by integrating agricultural activities with tree planting and related forestry programmes aimed at mitigating effects of climate change.
Recently, Minister of Agriculture Given Lubinda said Government is developing, and will soon start implementing, a strategy for agriculture that will result in the sector becoming the anchor of the Zambian economy.
Commenting on government intentions, Mr Olkkonen said Finland has been active in Zambia’s agriculture sector for more than 30 years and will continue to partner with Government, private sector and farmers.
“Agriculture does not exist without forests or water and vice versa. Agriculture, along with charcoal burning, is the biggest contributor to deforestation in Zambia, and hence an integrated approach to land use is necessary.
“Sustainable management of natural resources, land use, forest and water go hand in hand with agricultural activities, so this should be carried out so that in the end farmers will have to ensure long-term and sustainable use of their resources,” he said.
He said Finland has managed to maintain and grow its forests because of the individual farmers’ strong and long-term ownership, interest and commitment.
“After independence in 1917, a reform with a significant impact on forest and tenant farmers were given the right to buy land they had held under their tenancy agreements. It led to farmers having interest in long-term sustainable management of their forests since they function as a bank of resources a farmer can draw upon,” Mr Olkkonen.
He said the statement by Mr Lubinda is positive and it calls for a long-term vision that must look at wider horizons beyond the national borders and into the future.
“Zambia’s agriculture has everything going for it. I have absolutely no doubt that with global population growth, increasing demand for food, and the climate change reducing the hectarage of arable land, Zambia’s land will be taken to good use to produce crops for domestic and export on a much bigger scale than now,” he said.

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