District Forestry Officer (DFO) for Ntcheu, Donnex Mtambo said a five year Youth Forest Restoration programme initiated by government is proving to be a success in the district.
Speaking to reporters who were on a media tour under the project in Ntcheu, he said youth clubs in Ntcheu managed to plant about 226, 800 seedlings through the programme whose aim was to provide young people with training and jobs as well as protect the environment.
"We have about 192 hectares planted with trees under this project. The good thing with Ntcheu is that even though there was a delay in commencement of the programme which affected timely planting of trees most trees have survived," the DFO said.
According to Mtambo, Ntcheu district received K 54 million for the programme this year which has seen 71 youth networks from all the 11 Traditional Authorities (TAs) benefiting from the programme.
"The money that we received was for sensitization of stakeholders, youth and communities, monitoring, development of restoration plans, inputs, wages and other related activities. I am happy to say that the project is a success since we managed to do almost every planned activity under the program," he said.
Tinyadire Youth Club Chairperson, Alick Kachepatsonga commended government for introducing the programme saying it would help in restoring the degraded forests in the district.
"I can say we did not benefit much from the project since the wages are too low, but we took it positively that we are undertaking an initiative that will be of benefit to us in future. The forests we are restoring are ours and we are the ones to benefit from them, so we worked and we are happy with it," he said.
Through the project, participating youths are paid their wages for the work they do per hectare.
"One other aspect that we benefited from the programme is that we raised seedlings as a youth club and government bought them from us and they are the same seedlings that we planted on our land. Our plea is that they should consider increasing the wages next year so that we benefit more from it," Kachepatsonga added.
The programme is being implemented in all the 28 districts of the country and is targeting bare mountains, riverbanks, forests and other bare land. Activities being carried out included land clearing, pitting, planting ad weeding.