One of the country’s leading tobacco buying companies Alliance One Tobacco Malawi (AOTM)Limited says it has spent over MK700 million by planting some seven million tree seedlings during this year’s tree planting season alone.
Alliance One Malawi Leaf Services Manager Dr. Albert Changaya disclosed this on Fridayduring the company’s annual tree planting exercise at Chikumbutso farm in Mchinji.
Changaya explained that his company has so far planted some of the trees at its leased estates in Mchinji, Kasungu and Dowa as well in some government owned plantations such as Dzalanyamaand Chikangawa forest reserves as one way of fighting deforestation in the country.
According to Changaya, Alliance One in collaboration with Imperial Tobacco Group (ITG) of United Kingdom has so far planted over seven million tree seedlings covering 2, 342 hectares of land during this year’s tree planting period, costing the Lilongwe based tobacco buying company over MK700 million.
“This year alone, Alliance One has planted about 7,260,720 million tree seedlings on 2, 342hectares on government forestry reserves, Alliance One’s commercial farms as well as on othersmallholder farms at a total cost of MK778 million,” said Changaya.
He further explained that since his company started implementing this reforestation program in 2011, it has so far planted over 38 million trees covering 12, 107 hectares of land with a seedlingsurvival rate of 90 percent annually.
Changaya explained that his company decided to venture into this tree planting program as one way of helping government in sustaining the country’s environment especially trees which plays a crucial role in the production of tobacco especially the flue cured variety.
“As we are all aware trees plays a crucial role in tobacco production considering that majority of our smallholder tobacco growers use trees to construct their tobacco burns as well as curing their flue cured tobacco hence we are also encouraging our farmers to use live barns,” he explained.
He said so far some of the trees which Alliance One Malawi planted from 2011 are now ready for use adding that the company has so far employed about 4,000 Malawians who are taking care of the trees.
In his speech Traditional Authority (T/A) Dambe of Mchinji commended Alliance One Tobaccofor undertaking the serious reforestation program which he said would help to protect the country’s natural resources especially trees.
“I’m impressed with Alliance One’s initiative to plant such huge number of trees at its farms as well as on other government forests here in Malawi. Let me urge other companies in the tobacco industry to emulate the gesture shown by Alliance One by also planting many trees as they have done,” said Dambe
Since 2011, Alliance One has planted trees acacias, albizia, eucalyptus, bluegum and bamboos among others at Mpale estate in Dowa, Chikangawa forest in Mzimba, Lisandwa, Chilanga and Khola farms in Kasungu among many other areas in the country.