Niger State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani-Bello, has alerted of iminent environmental disaster looming in the state due to indiscriminate felling of economic trees by some unpatriotic individual.
The governor warned of “monumental” dangers if the uncontrolled tree felling in the State is not curbed.
He gave this warning during the flag off ceremony of the promotion of cashew production in the state at Chegungi in Bida Local Government Area of the state.
According to him people in the rural areas as well as some unpatriotic citizens of the state were felling economic trees, especially Shea Butter trees to make charcoals for economic benefits.
He expressed fear that there might be no mature Sheanut trees in a few years to come in the state.
“This event provides me the opportunity to also bring to your notice the report I received 2 days ago and this situation is as a result of tree felling, especially the Sheanut trees that has bedevilled Niger State.
“We have always known that tree felling is wrong but we do not know the extent of the danger we are facing. A lot of people in our rural areas and some indisciplined and unpatriotic citizens in the State have resolved to caught down all our Sheanut trees in the state for charcoal. For coal that is been exported out of Nigeria not even for the benefit of Nigerlites or Nigerians.
“At the rate we are going and from the report I received, in the next 5-10 years there won’t be any mature Sheanut tree in Niger State again.
“Hence forth, we must take this seriously and penalize whoever is caught selling charcoal. The law is there but I think we need to strengthen it more to penalize whoever is caught cutting down especially economic trees “.
He stated that in order to address the menace of tree felling in the state, the state government would partner with Edu Soko Farms Ltd by purchasing cashew nuts seedlings and 10,000 would be distributed to each of the 25 local government areas of the state and to be planted in the 50 hectares of land which is to be prepared in each local government area.
The Governor who also flagged off this year’s National Cashew Planting season with a call to the people to strengthen the cashew value chain said that “apart from the economic potentials, the financial empowerment that will also come out of it is also important.
He said that aside from the economic and financial benefits, planting of cashew tree will go a long way to addressing some environmental challenges in the state and country at large.
“We must take tree planting seriously. The good thing about planting trees especially cashew and and other economic trees is that apart from addressing environmental issues it is also a way of economic empowerment”.
The Governor also stressed the need to embark on planting of palm kernel trees as studies have shown that “we have better palm kernel trees in the state,” and it will help improve the Internally Generated Revenue of the state. Adding that these are cash crops that are internationally traded in a lot of stock exchanges and community markets.
He then called on the Etsu Nupe and Chairman, Niger State council of traditional rulers, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, other traditional rulers as well as the entire people of the state to engage in sensitizing the people on the need to engage in tree planting.
Earlier, the Minister of State, Environment, Alhaji Ibrahim Usman Jibrin explained that there is need to key into cashew planting initiative of the Etsu Nupe and the Nigeria Cashew Alliance in order to ensure that we project cashew product to the highest level. Adding that it is a very important project that needs to be supported by all.
He emphasized the need to add value to the cashew production in the country as it help develope into an industrial scale production. Etsu Nupe and Chairman, Niger State council of traditional rulers, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar who is also the Chairman, Edu Soko Farms disclosed that that the major objective of the farm is to promote a green environment and provide economic empowerment to youths and farmers in the state. Adding that 2,500 youths from each local government area would be supported annually through the program to acquire relevant skills.
He then commended Governor Sani-Bello for his efforts and contributions towards the agricultural sector of the state.