Nigeria has been making the news recently so it feels good to be reporting a positive story from the country – ITF’s Community Fruit Tree Planting Initiative in Awgu. Over the past 12 months, this project, in partnership with Women in Development and Environment (WIDE) has delivered a range of activities with local women and young people.
There are three main aspects of the project:
- raising awareness about the value of conserving indigenous forests.
- developing practical skills such as budding, grafting and tree propagation
- developing skills in marketing and book keeping but also in team building to encourage the community to continue to working together in the future.
When ITF is working with the partner in developing a project proposal, one of the requirements is a tree planting guide which makes fascinating reading about why certain trees are selected. We are used to seeing fruit trees being selected as a source of vitamins, folic acid or as dietary fibre but in this project the bush mango (Irvingia excelsa) was planted not only for its valued protein rich nuts but also because those nuts can be ground to make a thickening agent for the Nigerian dish, ogbono soup, for which there are many different recipes to be found on the internet. Ogbono is another name for the bush mango.
The project has now come to an end and assessments have been made about its success. It has certainly engaged the local community with over 100 people taking part. A fruit tree nursery has been set up and over 180 fruit trees have already been planted. Lessons have also been learned about which species are more suitable for the planting area and the climate, for example the growth of a number of Citrus Sinensis – sweet orange trees was stunted.
Encouragingly the area set aside for planting was increased during the project and it was reported at the end of April that many more seedlings raised were due for planting.