19 Mar 2017
Writer: Habib Viqar

Appeals for green Afghanistan go viral

Social media has swelled support for the annual tree planting campaign that coincides with the onset of spring.
Civil society activists and ordinary Afghans are pledging support for a green Afghanistan on Facebook.
Afghan singer Mobin Wesal writes to his fans, "I am planting … and I appeal to people to plant trees for the sake of clean air, and to make the environment beautiful because trees are beautiful."
Azizulrahman Sharafat who works in the Ministry of Education lists the "benefits" of trees on his Facebook page. Apart from clean air, he says trees will "decrease the heat in the summer, possibility of destructive floods, and if they are fruit bearing, there are many more benefits."
"I ask everyone to participate," writes Ehsanullah Shaheedmal, a Kabul resident, on Facebook. "Everyone should plant one or two trees."
Yes plant but also water the tree to ensure it survives advices Hasan Ahmadzai. "Our authorities and people plant many trees but they dry up after a few months due to lack of water and other problems," he says.
Nasir Ahmad Sahel has a comment on the medicinal and psychological benefits of trees on his Facebook wall. "Medical experts have proven trees are very beneficial for people's health. One tree can give psychological solace to 18 people," he claims.
Civil society activist Ahmad Ahadi intends to plant trees in the new year for the "sake of his lovely country". He writes, "Planting trees is medicine for all kinds of respiratory and other illnesses. Experts advice anyone who a deep sorrow to go to a garden, and the beauty and cleanliness will surely lift spirits. I am planting trees to remove the sorrow of my countrymen."
Protect the new saplings, says Najiaullah Samoon, another activist on Facebook. "We should plant as many as we can protect … the government or somebody should do that because planting trees without protection is no use.'
Engineer Khorshaid Fetrat has pledged to plant only as many trees as he can protect. "Trees that I can cherish and water," he writes on Facebook.
The government launches tree planting campaigns every spring.
The municipality has plans to plant 46,000 trees. Ahmad Shah Oryakhil, a deputy in its horticulture department, says free saplings will be distributed in all neighbourhoods. "We expect the help of people in planting the trees."
The agriculture department has plans to create gardens exclusively for women. These would not just be ornamental, but the fruits and vegetables can be sold by women in the market, says Rafiaullah Rahimzai, provincial head of agriculture.
This spring 450,000 trees will be planted across Nangarhar.
Masooma Ahmadzai has started her own tree planting campaign in Jalalabad. "If people get involved they can make the whole country green," she says on Facebook.
Provincial authorities will focus on five districts in this spring's tree planting programme under Laghman's "Beautiful life, blooming love, let us make green the environment for coming generations" campaign. Abdul Jabar Nayimee, the governor has a message for his people. "Anyone who plants a tree has the responsibility to irrigate and cherish it. The government cannot take care of all trees." According to reports, 900,000 saplings have been grown in government and private nurseries for planting in Laghman and other provinces.
Civil society groups are involved in the campaign to green the province. Khuja Mohammad Ziar says, "We are six groups that work jointly. We have met many provincial authorities and encouraged them to support us. We promise to plant 2,000 trees in different parts of the Maidanshar (provincial capital)." The trees will be planted on new year's day.
"Many residents of the province have promised to participate in planting trees. We will show people that planting trees makes the country green," he adds.
The province has ambitious plans for the planting of between 500,000 and 600,000 saplings. Everyone from government officials to students are expected to participate. Engineer Baseer, mayor of Khost city says, "All the saplings that will be planted this year in Khost province have been sown and grown in the province." Samiaullah Nasrat, provincial head of agriculture and livestock, tells Killid he is happy that attention is being paid to saplings, gardens and agriculture.
The authorities in Kandahar province have plans to plant 1.5 million saplings. At least 100,000 will be olive trees, says Hafizullah Sayeed, chief of the agriculture department. These will be planted over 17 districts in Kandahar. "We have started a campaign called 'one tree for you and one for your country'. We have promised that we would make the whole province green," he says. So far Abdul Hanan Munib, acting governor, and Engineer Roshan Wolesmal, mayor of Kandahar city, have confirmed their participation in the campaign.
Both the local government and central government are involved in tree planting efforts. Governor Mohammad Elyas Wahdat appeals for people's help. "Aforestation is impossible without help of the people," he says. The Ministry of Agriculture has plans for gardens in seven districts.
Thousands of saplings, both ornamental and fruit-bearing, that are grown in Kunar will be planted. In the past, the saplings were grown in Pakistan.

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