The global coronavirus pandemic will not deter Ethiopia on its mission to plant five billion trees by the end of July, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Friday, World Environment Day.
“Despite #COVID19, we are determined to plant the intended five billion trees,” he tweeted on his official Twitter account, adding that planning was under way on how each household would “plant their print in a physically distanced manner.”
Abiy said on Facebook that the target is part of the east African nation’s larger goal of planting 20 billion trees over a four-year period.
Last year the country launched its annual Green Legacy challenge, which saw 354 million seedlings being planted in a 12-hour period. According to the Agriculture Ministry, about 84 per cent of those plants have grown.
“More than 20 million people were mobilized throughout the country in our first-ever mass planting engagement,” Abiy said on Friday, adding that four billion seedlings had been planted last year.
He then dug into this year’s attempt by planting trees near Tabor Mountain, just outside the central city of Hawassa.
Officials said both government institutions and private businesses had prepared enough seedlings to be planted in the latest round.
Ethiopia’s rapidly growing population and lack of arable land pose a problem for the impoverished nation.
According to the UN, environment has become a key issue in Ethiopia in recent years.
“The main environmental problems in the country include land degradation, soil erosion, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, desertification, recurrent drought, flood and water and air pollution,” the UN stated.