By Martha Awinoh
Planting trees has over time proven to have immense advantages ranging from its economic, environmental and even health benefits for individuals and the community at large. However, due to the realisation of the concept of deforestation the earth has lost more than half of its natural trees. Deforestation has scientifically been proven to have accelerated climate change by releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and increasing soil erosion and desertification. This has caused an evident change in the environment and thus forcing human beings to adopt to highly unfavourable climatic changes. These changes continue to threaten and almost cripple the agricultural aspect of man’s existence.
Deforestation is made manifest in different forms including wildfire, cutting down of trees and development. Kenya loses 5.6 million trees daily. Reports indicate that the country’s forest coverage stands at 7.6 per cent, below the target level of 10 per cent. Less than 5% of Nigeria’s land is covered by trees with the few remaining forest cover under threat. According to Food and Agriculture organisation of the united nations (FAO), Nigeria has the highest rate of deforestation. One of the key solution towards the climate change is to plant as many trees as we can. Trees play a key role in supporting life through producing oxygen and absorbing climate change – causing carbon dioxide.
Seedballs also known as clay dumplings have provided a means of planting trees without opening up soil through a technique known as seedballing. The throw and grown technique was first known to have been used in Egypt to repair firms after the Nile floods havoc. This is in itself advantageous because it allows land to naturally gain back its fertility, that is most often than not stripped off by man’s poor agricultural methods. Through seedballing, a farmer is now able to plant trees without wasting water, time, and energy. According to an analysis by the Seedballs Kenya, traditional method of tilling the land requires about $160 per hectares, water, labour and time before complete growth is achieved. Alternatively, through spreading the seeds on the ground, the farmer is now able to spend as less as $8 per hectare. The trees arrive at maturity between 4-14 years after germination has taken place. The community is now able to benefit from the sustainable agricultural produce thus improving the well – being of the community’s agricultural sector.
The throw and grow seeds have been designed to survive in different climatic regions. According to a statement by Teddy Kinyanjui, co-founder of Seedballs Kenya, “the farmers need to get the right seed for the right area. Even during the dry season, the farmer just needs to throw the seeds on the ground, once the rains come, the seed will germinate. He further added that “One can plant a huge sum of seedballs within a short period of time.” With the increase in climate change, water is fast becoming a scarce resource. The round-like seeds have been designed in a manner where they can survive even in harsh climatic conditions. The seeds are derived from a combination of clay and organic materials such as compost, worm casting and well-decomposed manure. The seeds are covered with portion of fibres such as paper mash or charcoal which protects the seeds from birds and insects.
Tree for Life Project
Kenya’s population of nearly 50 million is projected to reach 95 million in 2050 with over half of Kenyans relying on wood energy as their source of fuel resulting in reduction of Kenya’s forest cover. Currently, Kenya’s forest coverage stands at 7.6 per cent, below the target level of 10 per cent. Even as the community is encouraged to plant trees, there is a need for the community to be empowered on ways we can save the wood energy so as to protect our forests. The community needs to be aware of the respiratory risk they are exposed to while using charcoal and encouraged to embrace clean energy for cooking. A report by World Health Organisations (WHO) records a total of 4.3 million annual deaths attributed to diseases associated with cooking using incomplete combustion.
At a time where climate change is in a crisis, there is pressure on faith leaders to take action. At OAIC, we believe in justice in terms of distribution of knowledge, opportunities and privileges within the African society. We are happy to announce that this year one of the ways we will work to mitigate the effects of climate change on the environment will be by planting 100 million trees across Africa. Through seedballing technique, OAIC aims to implement the reforestation strategy across Africa. The project will be rolled out in churches and learning institutions to encourage alternative energy use, conduct environmental education and climate action advocacy. For the next rainy season, the initiative will establish tree nurseries in Uganda to commence the restoration of environments which will be mutually beneficial for the refugees and the hose community.
The tree for life project was started in 2015. This project is aimed at tackling the issue of deforestation. Since the launch of the pilot phase in Machakos, OAIC Just communities program has planted trees and trained members of the ABC congregation on climate change and tree planting. The OAIC just community team met the county government to discuss partnership in the area of environmental conservation. This project is set to be rolled out in churches, schools and the communities at large. The OAIC project team has successfully initiated partnerships with other organisations to roll out a faith based education for sustainable development curriculum to equip leaders in AICs to use the power of the pulpit to inspire sustainable environmental practices. The project is positively impacting the lives of members of the ABC church who are now conscious of their role in climate action and environmental conservation and some have planted trees in their homes.
At OAIC we believe that Seedballing is the answer to having agricultural freedom. The seeds are diverse, adaptable, and climate friendly. All you need is to throw and they will grow anywhere there is land to germinate them. They can be thrown at the church gardens, at the parking lots, and over the fence an activity that can be embraced by both the young and old. This effortless technology can have a ripping effect across the African environmental landscape, because trees improve the oxygen level, improves soil health, the canopy of trees traps dust creating a healthy ecosystem. Let us get started throwing seedballs in our communities. He/she who plants a tree, plants a hope.