By Tendai Rupapa
Kwekwe — ENVIRONMENTAL conservation has emerged among top skills which schoolchildren and communities need to guarantee food security.
This came out at Bonstead Secondary School here where First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, the country’s environmental patron launched a schools integrated environment programme which also involves the capacitation and training of the local community.
The programme is an initiative by the Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry in partnership with the First Lady.
The programme dovetails with Amai Mnangagwa’s countrywide empowerment programmes in which, through her Angel of Hope Foundation, she has established nutritional gardens and orchards among other self-help projects in previously marginalised communities.
Yesterday, she launched the programme in the Midlands to promote environmental conservation and equip schoolchildren and the community with skills to promote food security.
The Midlands Province is the last one to benefit from the programme as similar programmes have already been rolled out in other provinces.
Under the programme, the First Lady, commissioned a fish pond, a nutrition garden, an orchard and a borehole which were established by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA), the Forestry Commission, ZimParks and the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa).
Amai Mnangagwa was appointed environmental patron in recognition of her passion for environmental conservation.
She planted an orange tree in the school orchard. The aim of the programme, the First Lady noted, is to promote environmental sustainability across all sectors of life as the environment was the springboard upon which life on earth is sustained.
“As a country we have realised the indispensable value of the environment in promoting economic turnaround, particularly during this new dispensation era where we are profiling our country for international investment.
“I am therefore happy that the Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry continues to recognise my passion for the environment and bestowed upon me the honour of leading this campaign.
“As a patron, allow me to reiterate my allegiance to do all I can for the environment and the people of Zimbabwe,” she said.
The integrated approach, the First Lady said, provided the country a guarantee to keep a clean and safe environment.
“I also implore the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to also strengthen environmental education into the extra curriculum activities.
“Students should be exposed to best environmental ethos and values that enhance and promote sound environmental stewardship,” said the First Lady.
The environmental patron said it was her wish to have the programme rolled out in many other schools across the country adding that the environment existed for all generations.
She implored beneficiaries of the programme to put the projects to good use.
She said a monitoring team will be despatched to constantly check on their progress.
The First Lady, who is also the Health and Child Care Ambassador, also took the opportunity to encourage men and women in the area to get screened for prostate, cervical and breast cancer.
She has been leading in the fight against cancer and her awareness campaigns have benefited thousands of people.
The First Lady preached unity, urging women to join forces in income generating projects.
On child marriages and rape, Amai Mnangagwa said perpetrators should be severely punished adding that the area of child marriages was of great concern to her and she would fight for lasting solutions.
Amai Mnangagwa pledged to donate stationery to the school.
Minister of State for Midlands Provincial Affairs Larry Mavima thanked the First Lady for spearheading the programme saying it would go a long way in improving the livelihoods of the schoolchildren and the community at large through food provision and income generation.
“This project will also act as a benchmark for other schools within the district and the province at large,” he said.
Eighty-six people, including schoolchildren, were trained by ZimParks to manage the fish ponds. They received certificates which were handed over by the First Lady.
The training included among other courses cage culture, pond culture, tank culture, fish nutrition, fish health and biosecurity measures.