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Meet ‘Tree man of Juba’ who wants to plant 10 million trees

Author: Charles Wote | Published: Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Garang Maguet Garang is on a mission to plant ten million trees in five years - Photo Credit: Moses Awan/Eye Radio

Garang Maguet Garang is determined to transform South Sudan into a greener and more weather-friendly nation by planting 10 million trees in ten years, targeting schools, homes, and institutions.

His efforts are not only aimed at improving the natural landscape but also at creating a sustainable future and restoring the balance between nature and humanity.

Garang said he has so far planted over 300 trees in the last three months and a total of 500 different types of trees, including umbrella trees, ornamental plants, and fruit trees, in the last three years.

“I have been planting trees for almost three years [and] this year I have planted over 300.” He told Eye Radio during an interview.

“In planting [trees], this is where I get my transport, my airtime and other expenses so it is a source of income, number two is for the beauty of our country.”

“Others say South Sudan is not green, others say it is hot whatever story someone has about South Sudan.”

“Some people say some trees do not survive in South Sudan so the reason why I am taking the lead in greening the South Sudan campaign is to teach young people how to properly plant the trees.”

The 31-year-old Garang holds Undergraduate Diploma in Agronomy from Busoga University, in 2018 and Diploma in Wildlife and Forestry at Nkumba University, 2021 in Uganda.

He is also an environmental campaigner and co-founder of Greening South Sudan, a local NGO advocating for planting trees and proper use of the environment.

According to Garang, planting trees to transform South Sudan into a green belt has created a job and is contributing towards environmental protection.

He mainly buys a seedling of different types of tree species from the preferred growers at 5000 South Sudanese pounds and transports them to the site for planting.

The father of 3 said he also buy fertile soil – the loam from individuals along the streams at an estimated cost of 10,000 pounds which is equivalent to a six-wheel barrow for planting the trees.

“I pay the one who raises, that of transport also get something, I also collect fertile soil in some streams and they charge me so [meaning] I have already created more than three jobs with one tree.”

“I buy the seedling at 5,000 pounds and sell for someone at 6000 pounds, I also ask for labour.”

“If it is for school, I do it for free as long they will facilitate me I don’t charge schools [to pay labour] because I am encouraging students to have love towards this job which I am doing so that by the time they finish their secondary school, their primary they will be able to have knowledge on how to plant trees and also make money out of it.” He stressed.

On Friday, 11th August Garang planted an umbrella tree at Salaam Secondary School in Sherikat, Juba where he emphasizes the importance of caring for the plants.

He also advises those interested in investing in tree planting to ensure regular watering and protection from children.

“It absorbs water so if you water it in the evening, it will absorb it at night and you water it in the following day.”

“For all trees that I planted, all survived apart from one of the schools, some trees died because of the children, 7 of them because I planted over 147 so these students stepped on them.”

“I easily identify that was because of the accident.”

Garang said that planting trees as a business remains a challenge in South Sudan, citing the high cost of seedlings for those living below the poverty line.

Other challenges mentioned include the purchase of planting mediums such as soil, tree management during the initiation stage, and reluctance to water the plants.

The United Nations advised member countries to invest in knowledge, abilities, values and attitudes required to live in, develop and support a sustainable and resource-efficient society.

It adds that technical knowledge and skills that enable the effective use of green technologies and processes in occupational settings, as well as transversal skills that draw on a range of knowledge, values and attitudes to facilitate environmentally sustainable decisions in work and in life.

The UN also reports that most countries are now in the process to shift towards an environmentally sustainable and climate-friendly which they believe is critical not only for responding to the global climate crisis but also for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The agency adds that a successful transition towards a greener environment depends on the development of green skills in the population.

“The Sudd alone will be able to generate 3.3 billion dollars a year from tourism, we can have the largest paper factory from paupers, we can produce over 200 tons of fresh fish so this will tie us to the green skills and green jobs that we as a country will embark on and we really don’t need anything we have it all.” Joseph Africano Bartel, the Undersecretary of the National Ministry of Environment and Forestry revealed.

South Sudan on Saturday joined the rest of the World to commemorate International Youth Day under the theme “Green Skills for Youth: Towards a Sustainable World.”

The day was adopted in 1998 by the first session of the World Conference of Ministers responsible for youth and was hosted by the government of Portugal and the United Nations.

Speaking during a joint press conference in Juba on Friday, 11th August, Africano suggest the need to include environment science at schools to enable learners to embrace the protection of the ecosystem.

“Now we want our Ministry of Education to start introducing environmental science and civic education for kids so that they start respecting the environment.”

“The vocational training centres we have also to start introducing courses that deal with the creation of green jobs.” Mr Africano explains how South Sudan can use the existing resources to create green jobs for young people.

South Sudan’s Environment and Forestry Ministry said it requires up to 100 billion US dollars by 2050 for a successful transition into a greener country.

Over the last four years, 33 out of 79 counties in South Sudan are reported to have badly been affected by flood which has not significantly subsided.

Yar Golda Garang a Senior four-science student at Salaam Secondary School in Juba says trees create a green environment and provide shade which helps by keeping human being cool in hot weather.

She adds that trees also absorb carbon dioxide, which is a harmful gas that contributes to climate change.

According to her, a green environment supports animals, making the environment more diverse and balanced.

“What is think is one of the importance is trees or plants and environment they provide shade for us whereby for example in our compound, there are trees you can go and sit under and have peace of mind, for us students we can revise,” Yar said.

Achot Monykuch is another student at Salaam Secondary School. The 18-year-old leaner said, “It is importance to keep our environment green because it can make it easy for rain to rainy.”

Meanwhile, Ajak William – Principal of Salaam Secondary School says “In future, we would want to have a greener environment because when we teach these youth how to practice this in their community, it will counter climate change.”

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