More than 35,000 public primary schools will benefit from a project through which underutilised spaces will be enabled to plant more than 1 million fruit trees.
The Fruity Schools Africa project launched by the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (Kefri) will provide 237 primary schools in Nairobi with 41 grafted seedlings each.
Every school will be expected to plant at least 20 trees that can yield between 10,000 and 20,000 fruits per season.
“The project seeks to engage children in forums that will build their social skills and pass on life-long education on nutrition and establish the spirit of environmental conservation and a good work ethic,” said Dr Jane Njuguna, Kefri’s deputy director of Research and Development, during the launch at Nairobi River Primary School.
“It will tap into the child’s competitiveness, inquisitiveness and innovation,” she added.
To commemorate the day, 200 grafted avocados and 100 strawberry guavas were planted.
According to the team leader, Kennedy Odoyo, the project will contribute towards the government’s objective of achieving 10 per cent tree cover by 2022, and educate children from an early age on the importance of environmental conservation.
Dr Njuguna said Kefri would provide all the expertise needed, especially for species site matching and value addition in the form of jams and juices.
To record the number of trees planted the recently launched the Kefri App will be used.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), a minimum intake of 400 grams of fruits and vegetables per day is required to prevent diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity and deficiencies of micronutrients like vitamin A and zinc.
In the East African countries, consumption is estimated to be only one-sixth of the WHO requirement, with Ethiopians consuming as little as 19 grams of fruit daily.
The growing of fruit trees in schools will ensure the provision of vital vitamins and minerals to students across the country.
Researchers say some indigenous trees should be recognised as sources of vital nutrients to plug the gap between demand and supply.