FILE PHOTO: Coconut tree

The Lagos State Coconut Development Authority (LASCODA) on Friday said it would partner Lagos State Parks and Gardens Agency (LASPARK) to plant over 500,000 urban-friendly coconut seedlings in 2020.

Mr Dapo Olakulehin, General Manager, LASCODA, said that the seedlings would be planted under the state’s Coconut Renewal Initiative.

The agency will plant the coconut trees in orchards, gardens, parks and some streets where they will not disrupt or cause harm to vehicles and populace.

Olakulehin said the exercise would be carried out in partnership with LASPARK to tap into the economic and environmental potential of the cash crop.

He said presently, there were about 2.5 million trees in the urban areas and the plan was to increase it to three million by the end of 2020.

The LASCODA boss added that the aim of the initiative was to make coconut a household tree whereby people would understand the economic benefits of the crop.

“Lagos State is synonymous with coconut. It is a major producer of coconut in the country.

“This initiative, as Coconut Renewal Initiative, is where we want the state to fully tap into the economic and environmental potential of coconut.

“We are looking at having coconut on the landscape of Lagos State so that the economic benefits and environmental benefit will be maximally utilised.

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“Presently, we have about 2.5 million trees in urban Lagos. We want to increase the number; we want to make use of backyards, open space and lands that are not close to the traffic area.

“If we are able to utilise all these spaces within the urban area, we can have up to three million trees in the urban areas. This will complement what we are getting from the rural areas,” he said.

Olakulehin said LASPARK was very critical in the exercise, having been given the responsibility to beautify the state through tree planting.

He said the agency had direct engagement with the communities and residents’ association and corporate organisations in the urban area, thereby the partnership became important.

“The strategies we are going to use apart from the tree planting day on July 14, is that the exercise will be a continuous thing.

“We are going to visit schools, local government secretariats, and public places. There will be a lot of engagements to educate the people and buy into coconut planting.

“Coconut is the tree of Lagos State, it is known as the tree of life.

“If we are able to carry out the exercise, we will be addressing Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) goals, on healthy environment and economy,’’ Olakulehin said.

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He said economically, households could rely on coconut for their income as the crop had high economic value.

He said under the THEME (Traffic Management and Transportation; Health and Environment; Education and Technology; Making Lagos a 21st Century State) agenda of the state government, about 10 million coconuts would be planted within five years.

Olakulehin said of the number, three million was expected to be planted in the urban areas.

Mrs Adetoun Popoola, General Manager, LASPARK, also said that tree planting was one of the ways to solve the problem of climate change.

Popoola said LASPARK was partnering with LASCODA to fulfil its core mandate which was to plant as many trees as possible to safeguard the environment.

She said the initiative was also in line with the THEME agenda of the state government.

She said the discussion was still ongoing on the exercise, saying that both agencies would work together to create more awareness about the benefit of planting coconut.

According to her, for 2020, we are looking to break records, we are looking to promote tree planting and especially focus on coconut planting in Lagos.

“Lagos State emblem has coconut trees as part of its features; this tells us the importance of coconut tree planting in Lagos both for economic value and aesthetics.

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“We are going to be working together on planting coconut trees in many parts of Lagos; the major focus for us is the organisation.

“Our target for the major publicity is on the tree planting day on July 14,’’ Popoola said.

According to her, when you have trees in the environment, the air will be cleaner and healthier, free of pollution and tree brings peace, serenity.

“The sound of the tree makes humans better, trees absorb pollution, helps in flooding and in many other ways,’’ she said.

Popoola said tree planting was not a one-off thing, saying that it should be continuous and must be done every day.

“We are going to be working with schools, local governments and horticulturists and also identify places we can continue to plant trees,’’ she said.