The Principal Secretary Ministry of Environment and Forestry Dr. Ibrahim Mohamed has said that the government will in the next four years distribute two billion tree seedlings to farmers countrywide.
The PS said that the seeds will be distributed through various government institutions and agencies, to boost the government campaign to increasing the country forest cover to 10 to per cent in bid to deal with climate change.
In line with this, North Rift region has this year received 25 million seedlings with 90 per cent so far planted according to the North Rift head of conservancy Benson Kinyili.
Kinyili said four million seedlings have been planted in Elgeyo Marakwet County which aims to increase its forest cover from the current 37 per cent to 45 per cent in 2022, while Uasin Gishu County targets to double its cover from 7.6 per cent to 15 per cent over the same period.
Speaking during a tree planting exercise in Sabor Forest in Elgeyo Marakwet County, the PS Department of Trade Dr. Chris Kiptoo said 30,000 indigenous trees will be planted in 40 hectares of the forest saying so far 18,000 seedlings have been planted in 25 hectares with plans to complete the remaining 15 hectares by next week.
Dr. Kiptoo said the exercise under the Kaptagat integrated conservation programme aims to revert the Sabor forest which is a major source of water to both Elgeyo Marakwet and Uasin Gishu counties to its original status in the next two years.
The PS said the exercise which started three years ago has seen approximately 100 hectares re-afforested with about 90 per cent survival rate.
His livestock counterpart Harry Kimutai said his department was working with farmers through the Small Dairy Conservation programme to sensitize them on the need to plant fodder for their animals.
“This will go a long way in ensuring that farmers have feeds for their animals and will therefore not take their animals to the forest which destroys the young seedlings,” he said.
Speaking during the same function, Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos called on the national government to work with the county to have the entire escarpment gazzetted as a water tower to fight its continued destruction which has led to loss of life and property.
He also urged wananchi to take advantage of plans by the Kenya Water Towers Agency to establish a bamboo factory in Kaptagat and plant bamboo which he said will help in conserving the escarpment as well as earn income for farmers.
“Residents have been saying they cultivate the escarpment due to diminishing land, we now have the bamboo which mature after four years and with its many uses will earn them more money,” he said.
He also expressed concern over the illegal trading in cedar which he said was rampant in Embobut and Cherangany water towers and called on security agencies to take stern action in anyone found engaging in the illegal business.
The governor also called for the replacement of eucalyptus planted along rivers with bamboo.