Gov. Bello flags off planting of 3,000 hybrid shea trees for economic transformation in Niger
Niger State Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, has flagged off the planting of Hybrid shea trees aimed at geometrically increasing the number of shea trees within the shortest time possible and to fully benefit from the shea value-chain for accelerated economic transformation in the state.
This was contained in a statement signed by Mary Noel-Berje, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Niger State.
The ceremony which took place at the Beji Parkland in Kodo, Bosso local government area of the state, is a pilot scheme in collaboration with the National Shea Products Association of Nigeria (NASPAN) to establish the Shea Parkland Afforestation and Reforestation (SPARE) project in Nigeria.
Governor Sani Bello explained that the global shea butter market has grown rapidly due to the increased demand in making confectioneries, cosmetics and pharmaceutical products among others.
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The Governor acknowledged that the state which has the highest number of shea trees in the world is not leaving anything to chance to harness the comparative advantage of the economic trees and the value chain which has the potential of engaging thousands of women and youths across the state.
He said 3,000 trees would be planted in phase one of the project to cover 20hectares of land in which each hectare will accommodate 150 seedlings of the shea trees.
According to the Governor: “The shea trees have some distinctive features such as a short gestation period of five to seven years from the traditional 15-20 years. It also produces quality shea fruits in more quantities.
“Therefore, these hybrid trees have the potential to turn the economic fortunes of the state and Nigeria at large”.
He added that through commercialization of the seedling nursery, youths and women will be trained and equipped leading to the development of shea seedlings, particularly in shea communities around the Beji Shea Parkland.
The Governor then appealed to the host community to protect the project for not only their benefit but that of the state and Country in general.
He cautioned that a law prohibiting the felling of economic trees in the state has been put in place hence, the government will not hesitate in punish any individual or group of people who violate the law.
The Governor commended NASPAN for choosing the state for its pilot scheme considering the suitable soil and climatic condition for shea trees in the state.
Earlier, Commissioner for Environment and Forestry, Engineer Dr Daniel Habila expressed concern over the rate at which the natural forest is being depleted and the large-scale criminal deforestation suffered by the state, explaining that the new approach to reforestation with shea trees and other economic trees will change the narrative.
He said: “The shea trees will not only bring economic benefits to Niger state but, will bring climate change mitigation benefits that will minimise the environmental impacts from carbon prints.”
In his Goodwill message, the National President of NASPAN Alhaji Muhammad Ahmed explained that the project was initiated due to the indiscriminate felling of shea trees, adding that the target of the project is to plant 10 million shea trees in the next 10 years.
While appreciating the state government for providing land for the Pilot scheme, NASPAN National President said farmers will be allowed to farm on the Parkland while taking care of the shea trees pointing out that the project will be spread across communities in the state to encourage people.
The Governor also inspected the Kodo shea processing centre.