By BONIFACE MULU
The Kenya’s dry lands cover about 80 per cent of the country’s total land. Making the remarks, the Kitui County Governor, Charity Kaluki Ngilu, said that Kitui is one of the Kenya’s counties which are in the very ecological zone.
The governor added that the economic mainstay of the Kenya’s arid and semi-arid lands is farming. Ngilu’s remarks were contained in a speech read for her by the County Environment and Natural Resources Minister John Muneeni Makau during the 6th Kitui County Annual Tree Growing exercise held recently at the Mutomo Level Four Hospital in Mutomo District of Kitui County where the minister was representing her as the chief guest at the function.
Transforming landscapes and livelihoods with trees” was the event’s theme. The event, which was attended by hundreds of people, had been organised by the County Environment and Natural Resources Ministry in partnership with the Kenya Forestry Research Institute, the Kenya Forest Service, the Anglican Development Services Eastern, the Wildlife Clubs of Kenya, the National Environment Management Authority and the Kenya Water Towers Agency.
A total of 1,000 trees were planted at the hospital compound during the exercise. “This means the tree growing is a viable venture if appropriate technologies are adopted,” the governor said. She said the trees are renewable resources which if managed sustainably can meet the demand for raw materials for the wood based industries, fuel wood and a wide range of the non-forest products.
In addition, they are important for both ecological and social-cultural values,” the Kitui County governor added. Ngilu said that in Kenya where there is a 0.31 per cent annual deforestation rate and a wood supply deficit close to 12 million tonnes biomass per year, the tree growing can play an important role in helping both the county and the country meet their goals of rehabilitating 4.1 million hectares of land by 2030.
The raw product is not the end but can be processed to make finished products, building materials like flooring, panel, plywood, veneer, strand boards and even the pulp for paper and textile industries besides other hundreds of commercial possibilities, Ngilu said. The governor said the tree growing and the increase of the forest cover in Kitui County is one of the county government’s strategic objectives as is outlined in the County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP).
Through this initiative, the Kitui County government in 2017 was rated as the most improved county in Kenya for increasing the forest cover from 4 per cent to the current 7.08 per cent,” she said.
The county tree growing policy is being developed to provide legal framework to guide this initiative,” Governor Ngilu added. There are many actors involved in the tree growing and environmental conservation in the county and thus the Kitui County government and other government agencies in the county need to take the lead in spearheading the tree growing during this rain season, Ngilu added.
This year my county ministry shall be supporting the establishment of commercial woodlot and arboreta demonstration plots to act as centres for technology dissemination on appropriate dry land forestry technologies,” she added.
The Melia volkensii shall be promoted in these demonstration plots, the governor said. The Melia volkensii is locally known as Mukau. “As I conclude, allow me at this juncture state that I would also request the officers from the Kitui County government and the national government to develop a working relationship.
We are delivering service to the citizens and so we should complement each other rather than compete with each other. Let us respect each other and where there are challenges let us consult and move on together. Thank you very much,” Ngilu said.
The minister also addressed the occasion after reading the governor’s speech. And in her speech, the KFS Kitui County Ecosystem Conservator, Joyce Nthuku, said: “We (the KFS) are planning to plant more than 100,000 million trees in the county this season as our target and we have already planted some 80,000 trees.” The forester said that there are about eight development sectors that can’t stand without trees. Some of the sectors are the energy, health and agriculture, she said.
The officer said that there is a strategy by the KFS with the KEFRI and others to plant some two billion trees in Kenya by 2022. In her speech, a KEFRI Kitui Regional Research Centre official, Frouza Mwende Maingi, said that they the KEFRI are working towards promoting various tree species including the Melia volkensii, bamboo and Osyris lanceolata in the region and Kenya in general.
We carry out research on various tree species. The KEFRI is a state corporation established in 1986 to undertake research on forestry and allied natural resources. Maingi had represented the Centre Director Albert M.Luvanda at the function.
The Mutomo District Commissioner Ronald Enyakasi thanked Minister Makau for choosing the Mutomo Level Four Hospital as the event’s venue. The DC urged the locals to plant and take care of the trees for the good of the environmental conservation.
I also urge all the local institutions especially the schools to protect the environment. And by so doing we will escape the desertification,” Enyakasi said. “We are all affected by climate change. So we have to protect the environment at all costs,” he added.
The County Agriculture, Water and Livestock Development Minister Emmanuel Kisangau, the ADSE Programme Officer Lydia Muithya, the WCK Eastern Regional Education Officer Moses Katumbi and Chief Officers Clement Mungithya (Environment and Natural Resources Ministry), Kioko Kiilu (Water Department), Engineer Joseph Kimanga (Public Service and Administration) and Zakayo Kimanzi (Tourism, Culture and Sports Ministry) also addressed the function.
The County Environment and Climate Change Director Fredrick Kimwilu also addressed the function among oth