Farmers should take lead in tree-planting campaigns
The tree planting exercise in Malawi has been ineffective because farmers, particularly smallholders, have not been financially empowered to direct this course.
Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt: The tree planting exercise in Malawi has been ineffective because farmers, particularly smallholders, have not been financially empowered to direct this course.
Derrick Kapolo, Head of Agribusiness for the Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM), was speaking in Egypt at CoP27 as a representative of the World Farmers Organization (WFO) at an event organised by the United Kingdom government to discuss models for mobilising private finance for forest restoration and regenerative initiatives.
Kapolo stated that the current tree-planting mechanism, which lacks proper guidelines on who takes care of the trees once planted, must be changed, and that monetizing the tree-planting initiative to benefit smallholder farmers is the way to go.
“We have seen companies announcing that they have planted so many trees but the question is who takes care of those trees after planting? So it is very important that we really incorporate the farmers in all our reafforestation works. This will address the issue of trees being planted without proper mechanisms for follow-up management and even monitoring,” he said.
Instead of the private sector taking the lead in tree planting as a public relations stunt, Kapolo suggested that they consider partnering with farmers who will ensure that the trees are planted and properly managed. He claims that this will increase the survival rate of trees planted in Malawi.
Farmers, he says, simply need a financial push to care for trees, especially now that they are feeling the effects of climate change and farm incomes are declining due to the crushing of commodity markets and skyrocketing prices for farming inputs.
Unfortunately, this is forcing farmers to resort to unsustainable coping mechanisms such as burning charcoal and selling wood, according to Kapolo.
He stated that because farmers own 60% of the land in Malawi through the customary land tenure system, reforestation projects can only be sustainable and impactful if farmers are involved.
“If we are really talking about supporting farmers to venture into afforestation and also for Malawi to reach its regeneration goal, we have to start thinking about how to monetize this work to ensure we keep farmers motivated and at the same time move towards the realization of the degraded forests regeneration goal,” he said.
Malawi has pledged to restore 4.5 million hectares of land by 2030.
However, in his contribution, Jorim Schraven, Director of Impacts at the Dutch Development Bank, called for a public-private partnership to mobilise sufficient resources for the restoration initiative.
According to Mamadou Dakhite, Leader of the African Landscape Forests Restoration Initiative (AFR100), African countries made commitments to restore 100 million degraded forests by 2030 to mitigate the effects of climate change, which will subsequently contribute to the reduction of green gas emissions.