20 July 2018

Ethiopia: Better Tree Breeds Enhancing Reforestation

Have you ever heard about improved forest tree seeds? Of course, improved seeds are common in the food crop production area.

With the threats of climatic variability, the world has brought innovative ways of reforestation to overcome the harsh impacts of climate. And one of the ways to climate mitigation is using improved forest tree seeds.

The efforts have brought about tangible changes in Ethiopia, according to experts. The question one needs to raise here is, therefore: To what extend the seeds assist the effort of increasing forest cover in Ethiopia?

Dr. Yigardu Mulatu, Director of Tree and Seed Technology Coordination Unit with the Ethiopian Environment, Forest and Research Institute. To her, the quality of seeds has increased by 11 folds since the establishment of the Organization.

For over the last four or five years, the demand for tree seed has increased dramatically. Accordingly, experts have been working round the clock to meet the demands and achieve the country's goal of protecting, preserving and conserving the indigenous plant species.

What the experts have done and is still doing is that they collected various species of seeds from across the country and interbreed the seeds.

Such studies are also conducted in cooperation with Addis Ababa University's biotechnology PhD Candidates, according to her.

In addition, tree seed collection and distribution tasks that have been in effect since 1973/4 contributed a lot in improving the forest cover of the country.

Farmers, cooperative associations and youth enterprises are regular customers of the Organization. Hence, the seeds' distribution via such and other channels are sure to add to the climate change mitigation tasks, she said.

With a view to making the services accessible to major areas of the country, the Organization opened improved seed centers in 2014 in Hawassa, Bahir Dar and Dimma in Sebeta, Oromia.

Alemayehu H/Selassie, Dimma Tree Seed Processing and Distribution Center Head, for his part said based on the Agro-climatic condition, the plant seeds are collected from each and every districts of the state.

The next step, according him, is conducting quality test on the seed collection. The qualified seeds then are kept in store for over six months and again retested in the labs to make sure the seeds' germination capacity, he adds.

Due to such and other efforts, Oromia state distributed from 2014/15, around 137 species of seeds to various communities. "As a result, 2,137 people involved in the seed collection and distribution activities."

On the other hand, Amhara state Forest Enterprise Head, Chale Beyene said more than 226 tree seed source sites are identified or selected in nine zones which represents 53 species in 339 ha tract of land.

Among these, 48 species are selected and collected from the sites.

The research center has seven buildings with 30,000 kg storing capacity and distributes tree seed for 164 districts for farmers for further plantation to farm areas to improve forest coverage, he adds.

The activities carried out so far have multifaceted purposes including preserving and protecting indigenous plant species, multiplying improved species and mitigating climatic variability.

The improved seeds have, therefore, enhanced the reforestation activities by supplying the best breeds that could adapt to changing climate while incorporating better resistance to disease and the likes.

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