Planting trees
planting tree, sprout

by Marwa Yahya

Under the theme “fruitful trees, fruitful life,” an Egyptian engineer has made enormous efforts after he launched an initiative to plant fruit trees in streets and schools of Egypt.

“Shagarha (plant trees in Arabic) initiative aimed at planting one million fruit trees by 2030,” said Omar al-Deeb, a 33-year- old engineer came up with the idea in 2016.

The main objective of the initiative was to raise awareness about sustainable development and to face climate changes, said al-Deeb.

The initiative includes more than 300 events, most of which are based on the simple tools and volunteers’ capabilities, and some 55 schools and universities have taken part in the events, according to al-Deeb.

“So far, we have planted 100,000 trees in more than 16 provinces across the country,” al-Deeb told Xinhua, adding that hundreds of volunteers have also planted vegetables, fruit trees and aromatic plants in more than 8,000 balconies and rooftops.

“These trees have produced more than 7,000 tons of fruits and highly reduced air pollution,” he added.

The initiative was awarded Egypt’s Environmental Excellence Award by the Ministry of Environment in January.

“The youth volunteering activities are made for all classes and segments of the society starting from children, young people, ladies, old men and people with special needs,” he added.

He explained that the idea came to his mind when he saw people eating blueberries from a tree nearby his house.

“If more trees with fruits are planted, more people could find food in the streets,” he said.

He highlighted that enthusiasm of young people was the main pillar for spreading the idea, noting that the awareness about the initiative is increasing on social media platforms.

In the last event on Sunday, twenty volunteers have planted 200 olive, lemon, peach and pomegranate trees in Giza province, southwest of the capital.

Another 100 volunteers put the seedlings of 400 trees in new Cairo on the same day amid joyful residents, who participated in the cleaning and the planting activities.

Al-Deeb pointed out that some officials from the Ministry of Environment are helping the volunteers with technical information and some equipment.

“Starting with only one person, I feel so proud that thousands of volunteers have joined me,” he added.

Al-Deeb said he faced some difficulties at the beginning to convince the people because his education background was far from agriculture.

He reiterated that the big challenge was to learn about planting trees so he watched hundreds of videos and consulted some professors in the field.

“I learnt first about the initiative from the facebook, and I watched many videos about their work before joining them,” said Reham Abdullah, a 23-year-old volunteer.

“I’m glad to be part of that experience,” she told Xinhua, adding that the fruitful trees are much better than the ornamental ones for the food production.

She added the initiative has helped in providing jobs for fifty people, noting that the volunteers have reduced water consumption through the use of hydroponic systems.

With 300,000 fans on the initiative facebook page, the volunteers have also launched activities such as publishing posts on planting, irrigation, fertilizing and pest-control methods online.

The initiative has collaborated with private-sector companies to raise awareness of reducing pollution via planting more trees.

“Egypt needs more awareness and strict regulations to protect environment,” said Khaled al-Qadi, an environmental expert.

He hailed planting trees initiative in helping reduce pollution, calling for action by the government to protect public health and prevent the yearly squandering of billions of dollars on medical treatment of those affected by pollution.

Cairo, a city of almost 16 million people, has a high amount of air pollution, he said, adding that “there is an urgent need for action on pollution in this city.”

In 2017, 40,000 Egyptians died because of pollution, the UN Environment Program said. It added that the absence of trees in Cairo contributed to the problem of air pollution. Enditem

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