Lagos State government said it plans to establish fruit orchards in 20 secondary schools across the state to fast-track development policy of the state especially the need to build the culture of tree planting and re-greening the environment in students and youths in Lagos.

Some of the fruit trees to be planted are sweet orange, tangelo, grape and pawpaw trees, among others.

The State Acting Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms Abisola Olusanya, made this known at the weekend, adding that the planting of fruit trees in selected secondary schools was also to encourage students to become healthy, productive and environmentally sound.

The commissioner, while emphasizing the importance of tree planting especially in a coastal city as Lagos, argued that the exercise would contribute in no small measures to the transformation of Lagos into a greener, healthier, safer and orderly state while producing youths who are environmentally conscious.

“Mr Governor’s policy of fast-tracking the development of Lagos State is hinged on the THEMES Agenda. Part of this is to engage the youth, particularly students so that they can become healthy, productive and environmentally sound. In this regard, the Ministry of Agriculture is establishing fruit orchards in 20 secondary schools in the 3 Senatorial districts in the state,” Olusanya said.

Speaking further, she said the exercise would further encourage fruit consumption in students, noting that this was important for the provision of micronutrients to the body.

According to her, these food items are a rich source of vitamins and minerals required for the growth, development and normal functioning of the human body.

Olusanya listed the affected schools to include: Yewa Junior High School, Agege; Vetland Grammar School, Orile Agege; Lagos State Senior Model College, Igbookuta; Oriwu Junior Model College, Ikorodu; Community Senior Secondary School, Bayeku; Agufoye Girls’ Model College, Bayeku; Pobuna Secondary School, Poka, Noforija, Epe; St Patrick Secondary School, Odo Iragushi; Ibeju Senior High, Ibeju; King Ado High School, Lagos Island and Ansarudeen Grammar School, Surulere.

Others are Nawardeen Senior High School, Ebute Meta; United Christian Secondary School, Apapa; Jubril Martin High School, Iponri; Badagry Grammar School, Badagry; Awori Senior College, Ojo; Agidigbi Grammar School, Ikeja; Estate Senior Grammar School, Mushin; Eko Boys High School, Mushin and Oshodi High School, Oshodi.

The commissioner stated that students of the selected schools would further be engaged to set up nurseries, tree planting and other conservation activities which would encourage their involvement and participation in agricultural practices as well as environmental education.

She pointed out that apart from the agricultural gains of the fruit tree planting, students would be taught the importance of plants and trees in sustaining the environment as tree planting is one of the most reliable and cheapest means of combating the effect of global warming and climate change.

“Trees are fell indiscriminately without replacement and this has exposed the environment to erosion and other natural and environmental disasters especially for a coastal state like Lagos; as such we need to embrace the culture of planting trees because of the many benefits inherent in tree planting some of which include the provision of shade, wind brakes, prevention of flood and desert encroachment, as well as reducing the effect of global warming among others,” the commissioner averred.

Olusanya further added that tree planting was also very important for the environment as trees provide oxygen, cool the atmosphere, help conserve energy, save water, prevent erosion, save children from ultra-violet rays and provide food which are sources of vitamins.

“Generally, the fruit tree planting exercise will ensure that the students are meaningfully engaged in agricultural practices as well as get necessary diet supplements which include vitamins from fruits without having to spend on purchasing them.

“They will also be taught to understand the roles of plants in environmental sustainability while at the same time preparing them for self-reliance by using the experience in the establishment of home gardens, tending them and making some economic gains from the sales of fruits,” she asserted.

Olusanya, therefore, stressed the need for every community in the state and indeed the country to adopt tree planting exercise as a top priority, saying that there was no better place to start than in the schools.