More required to halt desertification, Drought – Dr Bukar
The Federal Government and the 11 desert prone states of the North of Adamawa, Borno, Bauchi, Gombe, Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi, Katsina, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara require N600,000 per hectare to nurture one woodlot in a month, to halt desert advances, the Director of Desertification and Drought Amelioration of the Federal Ministry of Environment, Dr Bukar Hassan has revealed. The forest reserves of Nigeria, studies have shown, occupy about 96, 043 square kilometres or 10 million hectares.
In an interview with our reporter in his office in Abuja, Dr Bukar emphasized this as part of the challenges facing the fight against desert encroachment and menace of drought and are part of the challenges due primarily to the paucity of financial resources and capacity in terms of man power and technical knowhow.
He however disclosed that there is light at the end of the tunnel as a project known as “Desert to Food” has already been launched in Senegal which the “UN and EU have asked all participating countries, including Nigeria, to submit their actual plans so that they can draw from the resources set aside to complement what is coming from their respective governments. That action plan, he said is soon to be submitted and all stakeholders have made available their inputs which have been collated to be known as “Nigeria’s Action Plan”.
The “Desert to Food” , Dr Bukar said is to take advantage of the role shelter belt initiatives offer, which is to open up agricultural services in all the participating countries. “This hopefully” he added “will be undertaken based on public and private partnership through a Nigeria/Israel company called AGRIVED which “in the course of our discussion, they indicate they will spend close to N15bn in Nigeria, for the take off of the project”, he added. He disclosed that his ministry has conducted an investment and impact assessment studies at a cost of N3bn spanning a large area of land from Sokoto in the North West through to Borno in the North East of Nigeria.
The Director however said the continental green belt initiative, will take between 12-15 years adding that the project idea has been “bought in by the international donor agencies and communities, the World Bank as well as the Global Environment Fund, GEF, who have all given their green support”, he disclosed.