‘Forestry Commission to meet fruit tree target’


THE Forestry Commission is on course in its bid to ramp up fruit tree production which has been on the decline.
Speaking to The Patriot on the sidelines of a ‘budding and grafting’ workshop in the capital, the commission’s information and communications manager, Violet Makoto, said the programme to grow fruit trees was progressing well.
Over the years, fruit production has decreased, with many citrus fruit farms’ output drastically falling.
Some Chegutu farms, which used to produce oranges, no longer deliver fruits to the market while the remainder producing poor quality fruits.
The five-year programme by the Forestry Commission is an attempt by the Government to ramp up fruit-tree production.
The commission seeks to grow 10 million trees annually to curb the annual loss of 300 000 ha of forest cover.
Veld fires, deforestation and land use variations, among other factors, have contributed to the loss of forest cover.
“The five-year programme, which runs from 2016 to 2020, aims to see improved fruit-tree seedlings grown across the country. We have begun training our staff in budding and grafting as part of the fruit tree nursery programme as we aim for improved fruit trees across the country,” Makoto said.
“This is a five-year programme which first saw the commission developing the root stock and now the budding and grafting which will culminate in planting. The programme is running concurrently with the command agriculture programme to encourage farmers to engage in agro-forestry within their farms while we will also ensure the establishment of community orchards in certain areas in the country.
“We will not engage all farmers but will be selective in the process. We have a target of five million fruit trees which will be distributed in the 60 administrative districts.”
One of the facilitators of the workshop, Tatenda Nyagura, said it is critical to impart skills to farmers on how to improve fruit tree production.
“This process is ideal in ensuring that the genes of varieties desired are grown. It is ideal that those doing this process know what to do, in order to get good quality fruits. Issues to do with seed viability, disease-free seedlings and maintenance procedure must be done properly to make sure that the process is successful,” said Nyagura.
The demonstration of the budding and grafting process emphasised the need for precision in cutting, especially during the ‘whip and tongue grafting’ stage.
Mango, avocado, apple, orange and plum are among trees being promoted.
Grafting and budding are horticultural techniques used to join parts from two or more plants.
In grafting, the upper part (scion) of one plant grows on the root system (rootstock) of another plant.
In the budding process, a bud is taken from one plant and grown on another.
There are different types of grafting.
These include ‘whip and tongue’ grafting which is commonly used for bench grafting fruit trees.
Compared to a ‘splice graft’, the ‘whip and tongue’ is stronger because the interlocking tongues are held under compression by the natural springiness (elasticity) of the wood of both stock and scion.
‘Cleft grafting’ is a grafting technique which allows the union of a rootstock limb that is much larger in size than the scion piece.
‘Cleft grafting’ is conducted in late winter when both the rootstock and the scion are in a dormant condition.
Budding is a type of asexual reproduction in which a new organism develops from an outgrowth or bud due to cell division at one particular site.
The small bulb like projection coming out from the yeast cell is called a bud.
Reasons for budding and grafting include changing varieties or cultivars, optimising cross-pollination and pollination as well as taking advantage of particular rootstocks.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry (MoTHI), Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) and other players will join the global travel tourism players at the Spanish capital Madrid for the 2018 edition of Feria Internacional de Turismo (FITUR) from January 17 – 21.
The newly appointed Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister, Honourable Prisca Mupfumira, will lead the Zimbabwe delegation marking the country’s 10th appearance at the fair.
ZTA chief executive, Dr Karikoga Kaseke said participation at FITUR will help the authority push the tourism agenda to the Spanish market and the world.
He added that the platform presented an opportunity to engage various UNWTO member-states and call on them to rally behind Zimbabwe as the destination seeks to regain lost markets.
“We are going with the Minister and we hope the Minister will take the opportunity to answer the questions that are normally asked by major tourism players on the globe; what this new dispensation that we are having in Zimbabwe is all about and encourage the world to support this new development,” Kaseke said.
FITUR is the leading tourism fair in Spain and number three in the world after Internationale Tourismus-Börse (ITB) in Berlin and World Travel Mart (WTM) in London.
It is the place where the globe converges to map out the future of world tourism and the UNWTO headquarters is in Madrid, Spain.
In 2017 FITUR attracted a record 9 893 exhibiting companies from 165 countries/ regions, more than 135 858 trade participants and 107 213 public visitations.
On the sidelines of FITUR, a Chinese Tourism Outbound Seminar, Tourism Investment and Business Forum for Africa and the (UNWTO) Awards for Innovation and Excellence will be hosted.
Currently, the Spanish market contributes 6,5 percent of all rivals from Europe and is the sixth largest contributor of arrivals from the bloc after the UK, Ireland, Germany, France, Benelux and Italy.


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