Saturday, 10 June, 2023

One Tree for One Student: An Innovative Approach to Plantation Forestry

Dr. Md. Amin Uddin Mridha

One Tree for One Student:  An Innovative Approach to Plantation Forestry
Dr. Md. Amin Uddin Mridha

One Tree for one student is an innovative approach to plantation forestry that will be performed by the students who are going to start their education life for the first time in Govt. and non-govt. primary schools, English medium schools, Madrasha, Moktob etc. This innovation is an extension of my earlier innovation on Student Agriculture: One student one integrated agriculture farm which was published in Academia letters and circulated by throughout the world.  This innovation is also published in Bangladesh and was endorsed by the Education Minister, Govt. of Bangladesh. It is being implemented by the Secondary and Higher Education Division under the Ministry of Education responsible for secondary and higher education in Bangladesh. Student Agriculture or “One Student One Integrated Agriculture Farm” is a noble innovative concept and integrated approach for popularizing agriculture (including Crops, Poultry & Dairy, Fisheries, and Forestry) to common people living mostly in rural and also in urban areas of underdeveloped and developing countries including Bangladesh. This will be done through the participation of public and private educational institute students to improve the lifestyle of common rural people.

Planting trees to save a life: The benefit of planting trees in our life should be focused on the simplest way towards the guardians and the little students to encourage them to grow more plants. We must mention that we cannot live without trees. They give us timber, paper, firewood, food, gum, medicine, fruits, spices, and many social and economic benefits. People in villages use firewood to cook meals and they use wood to build houses, huts, carts, and agricultural tools. We need plants for oxygen for our survival. The trees absorb carbon dioxide and remove and store the carbon while releasing oxygen back into the air, improving our environment. Trees are also important because they provide shelter from the wind, and in controlling soil erosion. One Tree for One Student is an initiative for promoting the planting of ecologically and economically beneficial tree saplings in student homelands, thereby offsetting/increasing students’ parents’ income and improving our environment.

There are lots of programs on the plantation of trees going on throughout the country by govt., non-govt. organizations and individuals. But the proposed innovation is a little bit different from other ongoing programs in the sense that we will be dealing with only beginners who are going to start their education for the first time. The idea of the proposed innovation is developed from a similar program from the One Plant for One Child (where I am the advisor) run in Bhaga Upazila of Rajshahi district by the Global Community Organization. Under this program whenever a child is born the volunteers visit the house of the child and they plant a tree in his or her house. In the present program, we are providing plants to first-school-coming boys and girls. 

Millions of students are getting admitted to different types of Bengali and English medium schools, madrasa and moktob every year in the country. If we can supply one or two trees for each student, then we will have millions of additional plants in the country. We are advocating continuing our journey to provide saplings for students every year and it will be a continuous process.  The primary theme or objectives of the present innovation will be to supply/ provide one or two fruit plants or forest plants to every student admitted to the primary-level educational institutes. The saplings will be given to the guardian of the students during admission over a joint meeting of all the newly admitted students and their guardians. The authority of the educational institutes will explain the overall benefits of planting among the students and guardians as mentioned above. The proposed innovation will be suitable mostly for the students from the educational institutes situated in rural areas where the lands for plantation are available. The students from the urban areas will be given the advice to grow plants in the limited areas available around their dwelling houses. On the other hand, they may be advised to grow indoor plants like Peace Lily, Chrysanthemums, English Ivy, Snake Plants, Money Plant, Aloe Vera, Spider Plant and many more. They may also grow plants on their rooftop and corridors in their dwellings with help of their parents.     

In the present program, the students will mainly be advised to grow different types of horticultural fruit plants (like Papaya, Guava, Lemon, Shajna (Moringa), Mango, Jam (berry), Jackfruit, Aegle marmelos, Star fruit, Pomelo, etc. in their homestead for fresh and contamination free foods and also to generate a little income from the excess fruits. The students will also advocate raising forest plants, especially wood-producing plants (Mahagoni, Neem, Shegon, Keroi, Eucalyptus and many others) in the vicinity of the dwellings to protect from storms and other natural calamities and environmental protection in addition to creating some cash income mature trees are harvested. Taal (palm), a special tree that reduces the risk of damage from thunderstorms in Bangladesh (causing huge death tolls) may be integrated into the homestead garden around the house and in highland agriculture, roadside and railway side land. Besides that, all students will be encouraged to grow a wide variety of agricultural crops, especially Indian spinach, Red amaranth, Water amaranth, Jute leaves, Taro stem, Radish leaves, Kangkong, Stem amaranth, Coriander leaf, Snake gourd, Bitter gourd, Brinjal, Chilli, White gourd, Aash Gourd, Pumpkin, Cucumber etc with the help of their parents. As I have mentioned in my previous innovation on student agriculture, other types of agriculture (including Crops, Poultry & Dairy, Fisheries, and Forestry) may also be advocated to the parents.

The innovation may be started initially in a few selected govt. - primary school in each of the 300 hundred parliamentary constituencies under the guidance of a member of the parliament. The program will then be executed phase by phase in all the govt. school and later other types of schools in the country. After some success, the innovation may be introduced in other underdeveloped and developing countries.

The procedure and systems of implementation will be formulated by the authority of each educational institute according to the facilities and infrastructure available in their own institutes. The main obstacle or hurdle of making the saplings available for distribution among the students must be overcome. First, the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education may take responsibility for introducing innovation in primary educational institutes in the country by providing directives to educational institutes for implementing the innovation. The relevant ministries and departments may then be involved directly because, in Bangladesh conditions, they have root-level workers. Primarily, the Upazila education officers will be responsible for executing the plantation program in collaboration with other relevant officers from Upazila. The Upazila Agriculture office of the Department of Agriculture Extension and other Upazila officers related to the plantation of trees can provide brief training to the teachers, to initiate the concept, and then the teachers will give advice and training to their own students in their institutes. They will then supply a production manual and based on the manual a video may be prepared for distribution among the parents and students.  Teachers from each educational institute will be given firsthand training on how to grow plants and the benefits of growing plants. The trained teachers can then provide the necessary instruction to the guardian in the presence of students with the help of the manual and video. The teachers will follow the students’ activities and evaluate their performance by incorporating annual assessments of the educational institutes. The best approach that may require some funding is to produce one common document offering all the guidance and information anyone would need to get started with this program. This could all be made available online for free to anyone who has internet access. Individual organizations can then print and supply only the relevant information pack that interests the end-user (student). However, for this innovative program to be successful, a strong order and directive is needed from the relevant ministries and departments, as well as the educational institutes that directly engage with the students (the program end-user). The next step is to make saplings available by following several methods e.g., Govt. may provide some funds to each of the educational institutes to buy saplings and/or raise saplings on their own campus with the help of school staff and teachers; or Upazila education office and other relevant govt. office in the Upazila may provide the saplings. The price of each sapling and the cost of cultivation may be determined to be one hundred taka approximately and the guardian may be instructed to refund one hundred taka in ten instalments. This money may be circulated to overcome the costs in the next year.  The teachers will be responsible for ensuringthe survival and growth of the saplings in collaboration with the guardians.  

Bangladesh's environmental problems and soil constraints can be alleviated through the program we propose for the country with One Tree for One Student. I believe our innovation will bear fruit shortly and benefit society tremendously.  On the other hand, it will work for the mitigation of climate change by planting trees through the active participation of students.


The writer is the founder

Vice-Chancellor of Pabna University

of Science and Technology