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PM pushes popularization of palm trees in Ethiopia

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) is insisting on introducing and expanding palm trees in Ethiopia given the high demand for dates in the country as well as other African nations and the Middle East, The Reporter learnt.

Reviewing the progress of the annual tree plantation campaign in the country dubbed: “the Green Legacy”, Abiy remarked that the achievement so far is nothing short of motivational. But, he also cautions there should not be any rush to conclude the campaign; and that rather the focus should be on completing the remaining tasks [of planting trees]. He also insisted on linking the tree planting campaign with real job creation and other economic impacts that can arise from the campaign.

Presenting the report to the members of the Green Legacy Technical and Steering Committee members, the Minister of Agriculture, Omar Hussein said that 83 percent of the targeted planting of five billion tree seedlings has been achieved. This, he said, is excluding fodder and other seedlings meant for animal feed.

Although this is to be taken as a success in terms of the plan and the one and half months it took to accomplish, Omar said that there were challenges observed in planning and executing the campaign. Accordingly, the failure to not plan according to the geospatial conditions of the country, data tracing challenges as well as lack of pre-allocated budget for the campaign were mentioned as challenges.

“We should have allocated the required budget to the campaign rather than looking for a budget while doing the job,” Omar stressed.

According to Omar, the remaining tasks are finalizing the 17 percent planting, planning and coordinating a closing ceremony, monitoring and following up on seedlings planted, and establishing an independent project office that would lead future campaigns. He also added that, the planning for the upcoming planting season should also be done ahead of time, beginning from now, including mobilizing of resources and seedlings preparation, out of which 80 percent are indigenous plants.

Highlighting that the campaign was conducted over the period of one and half years and there is a remaining one and half month to close the year’s campaign, Abiy said the performance is hopeful and indicative of achievability of the plan.

“We have to show our success in the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project in the Green Legacy too. We have to finish it within the timeframe we have put forward and finish it. We have to also show that we are capable of not only planning but also executing,” he stressed.

Apart from this, Abiy said that, even though the seedlings planted are not indigenous, the plan should be to plant fruit trees.

But, regarding the need for a specific project office to run the seedlings planting, Abiy said that there is already a commission tasked with such activities – which is the Environment, Forestry and Climate Change Commission. Although there is an institution to handle the task, Abiy said that this is not a task to be left for a single institution but everyone’s responsibility.