The Lagos State Government has announced plans to establish fruit orchards in 20 Secondary Schools across the State to fast-track the policy of the development of the State, especially the need to build the culture of tree planting and re-greening the environment in students and youths in the State.
The State Acting Commissioner for Agriculture, Abisola Olusanya, who disclosed this over the weekend, added that the planting of fruit trees in selected secondary schools was also to encourage students to become healthy, productive and environmentally sound.
Olusanya emphasised the importance of tree planting, especially in a coastal city as Lagos, saying the exercise would contribute in no small measure to the transformation of Lagos into a greener, healthier, safer and orderly State, while producing youths who are environmentally conscious.
She said: Mr. Governor’s policy of fast-tracking the development of Lagos State is hinged on the THEMES Agenda.
“Part of this is to engage the youth, particularly students, so that they can become healthy, productive and environmentally sound.
“In this regard, the Ministry of Agriculture is establishing fruit orchards in 20 secondary schools in the three Senatorial Districts in the State.”
According to her, this exercise would further encourage fruit consumption in students, which she said is important for the provision of micronutrients to the body.
She said the food items are a rich source of vitamins and minerals required for the growth, development and normal functioning of the human body.
Olusanya listed the benefitting schools to include Yewa Junior High School, Agege; Vetland Grammar School, Orile Agege; Lagos State Senior Model College, Igbookuta; Oriwu Junior Model College, Ikorodu; Community Senior Secondary School, Bayeku; Agufoye Girls’ Model College, Bayeku; Pobuna Secondary School, Poka, Noforija, Epe; St Patrick Secondary School, Odo Iragushi; Ibeju Senior High, Ibeju; King Ado High School, Lagos Island; and Ansarudeen Grammar School, Surulere.
Others are Nawardeen Senior High School, Ebute Meta; United Christian Secondary School, Apapa; Jubril Martin High School, Iponri; Badagry Grammar School, Badagry; Awori Senior College, Ojo; Agidigbi Grammar School, Ikeja; Estate Senior Grammar School, Mushin; Eko Boys High School, Mushin; and Oshodi High School, Oshodi.
Olusanya stated that the students of the selected schools would further be engaged to set up nurseries, tree planting and other conservation activities, which would encourage their involvement and participation in agricultural practices as well as environmental education.
The Acting Commissioner pointed out that apart from the agricultural gains of the fruit tree planting, students would be taught the importance of plants and trees in sustaining the environment as tree planting is one of the most reliable and cheapest means of combating the effect of global warming and climate change.
She said: “Trees are cut indiscriminately without replacement and this has exposed the environment to erosion and other natural and environmental disasters, especially for a coastal State like Lagos; as such we need to embrace the culture of planting trees because of the many benefits inherent in tree planting, some of which include provision of shade, wind brakes, prevention of flood and desert encroachment, as well as reducing the effect of global warming among others.”
Olusanya added that tree planting is also very important for the environment as it provides oxygen, cools the atmosphere, helps conserve energy, saves water, prevents erosion, saves children from ultra-violet rays and provides food, which are sources of vitamins.
“Generally, the fruit tree planting exercise will ensure that the students are meaningfully engaged in agricultural practices as well as get necessary diet supplements, which include vitamins from fruits without having to spend on purchasing them.
“They will also be taught to understand the roles of plants in environmental sustainability, while at the same time preparing them for self reliance by using the experience in the establishment of home gardens, tending them and making some economic gains from the sales of fruits.”
Olusanya therefore stressed the need for every community in Lagos State and indeed the country to adopt tree planting exercise as top priority, saying there was no better place to start than in the schools.
Some of the fruit trees to be planted are sweet orange, tangelo, grape and pawpaw trees.