More than 500 public schools and farmers in areas prone to erosion in Nakuru County have received free seedlings of Croton megalocarpus worth Ksh.11 million from Multi Touch International in a greening program seeking to conserve the environment and improve livelihoods.
Multi Touch International Executive Director Christine Wangari says each school received 300 seedlings of the high value tree for planting during the long break and will be nurtured by learners upon resumption of leaning in January.
Speaking at the organization`s tree nursery in Nakuru West Sub-County,Wangari said the prolific seeder is resourceful in the production of bio-diesel and croton seed cake for animal feeds due to the high protein content of croton seeds.
She noted that the tree species will help in the conservation of soil in Rongai, Molo and Naivasha areas where farmers and schools are contending with gully erosion and reduced soil fertility.
The fast growing tree has medicinal properties. Upon maturity at five years, growers can harvest leaves and barks to cure stomach ailments, malaria, and pneumonia and even enhance wound clotting. Growers can also process husks of croton in to organic fertilizer.
Plant Scientists have reported that Croton Nut Oil (CNO) is useful in combating climate change, emissions of green house gases and dependence on fossil fuels which has ,over the years, decimated the country`s forest cover.
Wangari observed that upon maturity at seven years, schools and farmers will also be able to tap from the multi billion shillings carbon sequestration business while contributing to the country`s quest for 10 per cent forest cover.
A beneficiary Mary Otwori from Molo academy primary school commended the initiative saying it will help schools and farmers along Baraka Ridge in Molo to conserve soil on their farm land for increased agricultural productivity.
She urged the environment conservation advocate to extend the initiative to private schools in a bid to expand the noble bid.
Appreciating the gesture, Kinyua Njuguna urged corporate entities and County Governments to partner with the environment conservation advocate in the effort to expand the initiative to other schools and farmers across the country as a way of boosting the President`s National Greening Program .
Youths from informal settlements in Nakuru say they are gainfully employed by the organization and by growing high value tree seedlings for daily wages they have been able to legally fend for their families and stay clear of crime.
The initiative comes to complement efforts by the World Bank funded NARIGP project that is rehabilitating degraded farmlands in Molo in a bid to boost productivity of farms owned by youth and women with agricultural enterprises in bee,irish potatoes and dairy Value chains.
The National Agricultural and Rural Inclusive Growth Program (NARIGP) is terracing farms in 16 villages in Baraka Ridge in Molo to curb soil erosion.
Agricultural Extension officers in Molo say the area has a high agricultural potential but is largely hampered by soil erosion.
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