Minister hails Pyxus Agriculture for promoting Afforestation

Natrural Resources Minister Nancy Tembo has commended Lilongwe based Pyxus Agriculture Limited for its efforts in promoting the country’s natural resources through its afforestation management program which the company is implementing in various areas in the central and northern regions of the country.

Speaking earlier this week after touring about 1,692 hectares of forest which Pyxus Agriculture has been planting at Chikangawa Forest under the Public Private Partnership (PPP), Tembo said the initiative has the potential to boost the country’s export earnings and also at the same time promote the country’s natural resources management drive which is one of her ministry’s main pillars.

Ngwira (left) briefing Tembo during the tour

“I would like to commend Pyxus Agriculture Limited for its efforts to venture into the forestry management program of this magnitude where they are planting trees using modern technologies with an aim of producing various products such as timber and wood. This initiative has an outright capability of boosting the country’s exports earnings but also at the same time improve our reforestation drive in the country,” said Tembo.

The Minister disclosed that she was particularly impressed with the company’s decision to employ people from the surrounding areas where it is implementing its programs saying the move has helped to improve the social-economic status of the surrounding communities as it has made them to become self reliance.

She therefore commended Pyxus Agriculture for annually providing free tree seedlings to the smallholder farmers who are also working with the company in other programs saying the initiative will go a long way in improving the reforestation aspect across the country.

Tree seedlings readyfor planting this season

According to Tembo, almost 60 percent of tree seedlings that are planted annually do not survive due to lack of proper management as well as failure to adopt modern technologies when planting in which chemicals such as fertilizer and other elements are added during the time of planting.

She however urged Pyxus to teach the local communities about this modern technology of planting trees in order to achieve high tree survival rate across the country.

“I’m particularly impressed with Pyxus’s resolve to engage our local smallholder farmers through provision of free tree seedlings every year in the areas where they are implementing their programs across the country. That is a commendable initiate and as a ministry we are very much impressed considering that it will greatly improve government’s reforestation mechanism,” she said

In his remarks, Pyxus Agriculture Limited Managing Director Ron Ngwira said his company has for the past seven years planted about 12.6 million tress covering about 6000 hectares of land which was previously bare with both commercial trees and natural trees and in the process employing about 691 employees in its forestry department alone.

He disclosed that his company has for the last seven years distributed over six million tree seedlings annually to the local smallholder farmers with an aim of encouraging them to realize the importance reforestation in their respective areas.

“So far we have planted over 12 million trees covering over 6000 hectares of both government concession land as well as on our company’s managed land in the central and northern regions of the county.

“Our aim is to ensure that we should be able to supply sustainable forestry products such as timber and wood especially for the local flue-cured tobacco growers and also for exports,” said Ngwira.

He disclosed that his company has adopted various tree planting and management technologies which help the trees to grow faster within a few years, a development that enables his company to have a continuous sustainable supply of various tree products such as wood, timber and poles among others.

According to Ngwira, his company has so far invested about $8.2 Million dollars in the past seven years it has embarked on this tree planting mechanism where various tree species have been planted in areas such as Mpale, Dazalanyama, Chikangawa, Ngala and Mbalachanda among others.

He however expressed his concern with issues of arson, saying this year alone, trees and other property worth $3 million dollars belonging to his company were lost through some deliberate orchestrated inferno. He therefore urged relevant government agencies such as the Police and the Judiciary to act on the offenders.

According to the company’s Forestry Manager Shingirai Ndolo, Pyxus is also conducting different research based tree planting technologies at its Mpale Farm in Dowa.

Apart from the afforestration program, Pyxus has also invested in legumes production initiative where it is growing crops such as groundnuts and Soya bean among others for both local and international markets after value addition them.

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