Following the launch of the GoGreenNaOptiven campaign, the question for Green Ambassadors has been, what can I do to make our planet better? This is a great development seeing that the Optiven Foundation and it’s partners will be using the campaign to further stamp it’s desire to protect the environment through an award kitty that will single out those making the difference.
Towards that end, the Optiven Foundation Chairman Mr. George Wachiuri on 17th January 2021 at the Garden of Joy, announced that the recognition of GoGreen initiatives will take a next level approach this year. According to Wachiuri, a team will take time to review the green initiatives done by individuals, institutions and other stakeholders who will showcase what they do in matters greening. He noted that, “this is urgent and requires all of us to participate in the Green Agenda.
We at Optiven Foundation are in the process of putting together a forum where those interested in the Green Agenda can share their activities and learn from one another.” The Optiven Foundation has set up a GoGreen Group on Facebook to this end and will be engaging with members to find out what is happening at the grassroot level, with plans to visit and authenticate the rolling out of green initiatives.
Talking of initiatives, the need to plant trees is almost always top on the agenda of environment enthusiasts the world over. For many, it is the outcome of the activity that determines whether they will engage or not. In the case of trees, the reality is that maintaining the dietary needs of 7.5 billion people is a balancing act between producing enough nutritious food, keeping the planet from being drained of its biodiversity and natural resources, and providing livelihoods.
The answer lies in trees. How, you may ask? The food industry, of course, is a massive enterprise on every scale. Forty-three percent of land in many parts of the world is actually used for agriculture. Such land is also the result of some 26 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Closer home in Kenya and in tropical regions, such large-scale agriculture is a major cause of deforestation. The agricultural output is enormous but has very little diversity: Did you know for example that
Over 40% of all calories consumed by the world comes from rice, wheat and maize? While food is increasingly calorie-rich, fruits and vegetables remain under-consumed in most of the world. Eating fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts and whole grains, can help prevent noncommunicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.
That is why the celebration the UN dedication of year 2020 was very welcome to raise awareness about plant health and the impact of healthy plants and forests on food security, poverty, economic development. According to Wachiuri, ‘for Optiven, we led the way to this observation by engaging in a call to action for our customers to utilize their plots to plant foods and trees.
Through the initiative, it was a great opportunity to pass information to the younger generation, while enjoying the fruits of investment for our customers who are yet to start building their dreamhomes.’ As we look back to 2020, the dedication to global plant health, we can only escalate efforts to improve food trees in our ecosystem for the future.
Tree foods are higher in provision of vitamins to the society. In the seven rural areas located across seven different tropical countries, tree-sourced foods were key sources of vitamins A and C for residents, and such foods had nine times as much vitamin A and four times as much vitamin C as did other foods.
The fruits, leaves, nuts and seeds of many of the world’s roughly 60,000 tree species are edible and nutritious, but are eaten only locally. Many are unknown to the international market, and some species are not even domesticated. For example in Kenya and at the Shekina Project by Optiven, the cactus trees provide the nutrient filled prickly pear from which one can get good health benefits.
What a number of Kenyans do not know is that prickly pear fruits are high in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. They are a healthful addition to a balanced diet and may help decrease blood sugar, reduce inflammation, and lower cholesterol.
The potential environmental benefits from planting tropical trees on farms is immense. Increasing the number of trees on the planet is one important nature-based solution for sequestering atmospheric carbon, as trees are crucial for “soaking up” carbon dioxide released by human activity.
A 2010 study found that while only 43 percent of global agricultural land had at least 10 percent tree cover, this already contributed more than 75 percent of carbon storage on these lands, indicating the climate potential of planting more trees on farms, a practice known as agroforestry.
And the benefits for planting new agroforests are many. For example they can be incorporated into large-scale restoration initiatives, such as Africa’s Great Green Wall, provide habitat for tree species and help conserve more diversity of animals, plants and microbes than do monoculture farms. This in turn can enhance ecosystem services such as by enriching the soil and improving water security.
Diversification of incomes and contributing to food security. The planting of food trees comes with financial and livelihood benefits for small-scale farmers. These trees can diversify farmers’ incomes and provide revenue (or just food) during non-harvest seasons for their other crops.
For example tree species, including banana and papaya, can even produce fruit year-round. Optiven customers with projects in Garden of Joy can look forward to a great time of enjoyment in the future as the company has already kickstarted the engagement with the planting of orchards and fruit trees on the roads.
The benefits of planting food trees cannot be understated and with embracing of such we are sure that the future will be great – for our food security, for our future generations and key of all, for our Green Agenda that is at the center of Optiven GoGreenNaOptiven Campaign.
To become a part of the GoGreenNaOptiven campaign, join the group today on https://www.facebook.com/groups/gogreennaoptiven