Kefri Official speak out On Dryland Echo-region Research Program ( DERP)

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May 14, 2019

By Boniface Mulu

The Drylands Eco-region Research Programme (DERP)-Kitui carries out the dryland forestry research and development activities to help farmers improve on-farm tree cover, conserve the environment and improve their livelihoods. This has been said by the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) Kitui Regional Director Albert M.Luvanda. He also said that the

He also said that the This has been said by the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) Kitui Regional Director Albert M.Luvanda. He also said that thestakeholders have the opportunity to provide comments on the proposed projects that will help the KEFRI management evaluate each project by the consultative committee. “The thematic areas are the forest productivity and improvement, forest biodiversity and environment management, forest products development and marketing, socio-economics, policy and governance and forestry research support services,” the KEFRI official added.

Luvanda was lecturing stakeholders during a KEFRI Kitui Regional Research Centre’s Centre Research Advisory Committee (CRAC) meeting recently where participants were from Kitui, Nairobi, Machakos, Makueni and Garissa Counties. On theDERP research focus, Luvanda talked about the multidisciplinary research activities that he said are implemented in five projects.

The five are the domestication and conservation of the drylands tree species, management and control of invasive plant species, rehabilitation and management of drylands ecosystems, production, utilization and marketing of wood and non-wood forest products and dissemination of forest technologies and information to stakeholders, according to him.

He said that the DERP research priorities focuses mainly on promoting and generating technologies in the dryland forestry and allied natural resources.

The DERP, which is under the KEFRI, is mandated to undertake forestry research in Kenya. Its headquarters is located in Kitui Town. Luvanda said that the DERP ensures the supply of high quality tree seeds, sustainable management of the water catchments, biodiversity conservation, tree improvement and on-farm forest plantation establishment to achieve the 10 per cent tree cover in the country.

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The expert further said that the DERP has some technologies where they are going to establish trials of three preferred charcoal species on farms in Kitui County, establish provenance trials of Terminalia browniiin Tiva area of Kwa Vonza Location, Lower Yatta District in Kitui County, establish the Osyris lanceolatademonstration plantation trial in Tiva area, establish an on-farm Aloe demonstration in Garissa County, establish the Melia volkensii progeny trial in Wajir County, establish permanent sample plots (PSP) for determination of biomass yield hectare per year and approximate average annual tree harvesting volume in the study area in Kitui County and monitor performance of Terminalia brownie and Melia vokensii under different spacing regimes. On value addition, Luvanda said that the indigenous/exotic fruits and seeds and their other products are common in drylands forests. “They include Tamarindus indica, vitex payos, and Adansonia digital. The products obtain include fruit jams and juices.

The indigenous fruits complement and supplement diets especially during droughts and famines,” Lucinda said. The expert also talked about Prosopis juliflora management and control through utilization.

He said that it has been estimated that the Prosopis juliflora charcoal generates 1.2 to1.4 million shillings per month inform of revenue to the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) in Tana Riva County alone.

The KEFRI official said Kitui is a major Melia volkensii seeds collection center in Kenya. He also said that Kitui is a key charcoal production county. And on his part, Michael Mairura Okeyo, a senior KEFRI research scientist at the KEFRI Kitui Regional Research Centre, talked about the propagation and domestication of the high-value fruit and medicinal drylands tree species.
He said the highly valued indigenous fruit and medicinal trees are relied on in
the drylands for nutrition, medicinal and sources of income. “The seedlings of these trees are not raised in any of the nurseries in their region of occurrence due to limited knowledge on the propagation techniques,” Okeyo said.

He said that the propagation of Vitex payos by seed is difficult to attain due to unclear seed dormancy. “TheZanthoxylum chalybeum is an important medicinal tree which utilized by communities to manage various ailments in Kenya’s drylands and the country’s coastal

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region but its propagation is not well understood,” the scientist said. He added that some of these species are dioecious and their biology is not complete. Okeyo said that to promote and diversify high-value dryland tree species on farm and increase tree cover and enhance visibility the KEFRI has over the years conducted research on the prioritized dryland tree species. And he added that to promote their adoption, there is a need to establish demonstration plots across different agro-ecological zones. “These species are the Melia volkensii, Tamarindus indica, Acacia tortilis, and Adansonia digitata among others,” Okeyo said.

The KEFRI official said that more than 93 percent of Kenya’s rural households memeetstsr energy needs from fuelwood. Okeyo said that the national demand for charcoal in Kenya is over 16million cubic meters while the supply is estimated at about 13.5million cubic meters according to Kenya’s Environment, Water and Natural Resources Ministry in 2013.

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The officer said that the over-exploitation of trees for fuel woods has led deforestation and land degradation. “In order to ensure sustainable charcoal production, the domestication of the priority charcoal producing species should be undertaken,” Okeyo added.
Okeyo said that to promote and diversify high-value dryland tree species on farm and increase tree cover and enhance visibility the KEFRI has over the years conducted research on the prioritized dryland tree species. And he added that to promote their adoption, there is a need to establish demonstration plots across different agro-ecological zones. “These species are the Melia volkensii, Tamarindus indica, Acacia tortilis, and Adansonia digitata among others,” Okeyo said.

The KEFRI official said that more than 93 percent of Kenya’s rural households meetmeetsir energy needs from fuelwood. Okeyo said that the national demand for charcoal in Kenya is over 16million cubic meters while the supply is estimated at about 13.5million cubic meters according to Kenya’s Environment, Water and Natural Resources Ministry in 2013.

The officer said that the over-exploitation of trees for fuel woods has led deforestation and land degradation. “In order to ensure sustainable charcoal production, the domestication of the priority charcoal producing species should be undertaken,” Okeyo added.

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