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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Mulanje district in Malawi


Mulanje district in Malawi
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Registered: October 2022
City/Town/Province: Blantyre
Posts: 2
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I'm Gracious Lokoma, Malawian, aged 25, studying BSc Forestry and Environmental Management and in 4th (final year) at Mzuzu University Malawi. Despite school, I am also the Chairperson for Community Based Youth NGO in Malawi known as Environmental Restoration Initiative for Concervation (E. R. I. C). Currently also engaged with NatWeb Africa for my undergraduate research on a concept "Knowledge, Attitude, Practices and Economic Effects of Pinus Patula Invasion on communities around Mulanje Mountain Forest Reserve" which I assume is a story for another day. Having said all, the following Village Forest Area project is under E. R. I. C which is for our local NGO in same Mulanje district in Malawi.

The project aims at providing propagated improved fruit seedlings of exotics including Mangoes, Peach and Orange species to the typical remote settlers who are very poor. In south-easten African country of Malawi, for almost a century developmental partners and the government have tried to persuade small farmers to plant trees through projects that provided ex-tension services, education, and subsidized or free tree seedlings but to no avail as Walker (2004) articulated. As such, the leading factor to development of this project was a question, "Despite depending on rain fed farming which is directly linked to climate change, why do farmers in rural areas of Malawi do not respond eagerly to tree-planting opportunities?"

I realized that most tree planting or ecosystem restoration projects are not sustained by community beneficiaries because trees take long time to fully grow and start providing benefits (products and services). This is the case in a contex where people in the said district don't plant more trees while considerably depending on forest resources. This situation creates a lot of pressure from the sorrounding eight villages towards the Reserve called Mulanje massif. Due to rampant deforestation, wildlife is becoming scarce and tree population being reduced at a very high rate thus leading to biodiversity loss and ecosystem change.

Our project aims at producing and supplying atleast 20, 000 seedlings of aforementioned improved exotic fruit species to the villages sorrounding the reserve. We have started with one village remaining with seven. The propagated exotics grow very fast and within 8 months they start fruiting. Statistics proved that fruit production at a year old and above of planted species ranges from 13 to 15 yielding an average of 14 fruits. The species are produced and propagated in our NGO green houses and are free from any infection such that communities like them a lot. This has persuaded many farmers to plant many of these species unlike other locally seedlings which are not genetically improved and take long to grow and produce hence making the project unique. The project is expected to be extended to remaining 5 villages after our local youth NGO also secure sufficient funding as it is a non profit and have limited funds. The beneficiaries are put in groups and on bare communal land, the trees are planted. These introduced rehabilitated areas are called Village Forest Orchards (VFOs) as they are dominated by fruit trees. The rurals are also trained on how to process juice from species product and the value chain is economic return is very profitable. During project development, I realized that it is possible to control deforestation in the reserve by not only enforcing the law and making them aware through sensitization but also ensuring that they are always busy with something thus deviating them away from degrading the forest. So far 2, 500 fruit seedlings planted out of anticipated 20, 000 seedlings.

Therefore in simpler terms, it is easy to conclude that the project is and will continue; transforming lives of the rural communities, ensure food security due to fruit diversification, restore the degraded ecosystems, sequester carbon in the atmosphere and alleviate pressure in the nearby Mulanje mountain forest reserve which is a home of various important plants and wildlife.
Date: October 31, 2022 Views: 2581 File size: 33.3kb, 250.2kb : 959 x 1280
Hours Volunteered: 64
Volunteers: 8
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 25 & 20 to 30
Native Trees Planted: 2, 500 trees
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