President López Obrador has presented the government’s ambitious program to plant trees on one million hectares of land over the next three years, declaring that it will give a “boost” to rural Mexico.
Speaking at his morning press conference, López Obrador said that 24 million pesos (US $1.2 million) will be invested this year in the plan known as “Sembrando Vida” (Sowing Life).
In an initial stage, timber-yielding and fruit trees will be planted on 570,000 hectares of land in eight states in Mexico’s south and southeast as well as 14 municipalities in Durango. López Obrador said the aim is to create 200,000 jobs this year.
“The countryside is the most important factory of Mexico, it’s just that it was abandoned, shut down. Now we’re going to give it a boost,” he said.
The president added that one of the main objectives of the program is to provide people with opportunities to make a living close to home and thus curtail migration.
“There are around 100 million hectares of social property that were abandoned during the neoliberal period, that’s why migration grew so much. The countryside, which has a great economic potential for the country, was abandoned . . .” López Obrador said.
Farmers, ejidatarios, or communal landowners, and others who participate in the tree-planting program will receive a monthly salary of 5,000 pesos (US $260) for working six days a week.
Labor Secretary María Luisa Alcalde explained that 4,500 pesos will be paid in cash and 500 pesos will go into a savings fund.
In 2020, an additional 10 states will be incorporated into the program to take the total number to 19. An additional 200,000 jobs are expected to be created.
The army will be responsible for supplying the saplings, which will be grown in 11 nurseries, of which eight are already operational. A new military-run nursery will be built in Cárdenas, Tabasco, this year.
Mahogany, cedar, cacao, rubber, cinnamon and soursop will be among the trees planted.