At least 12 million tree seedlings are set to be planted in Elgeyo Marakwet to boost forest cover in a program supported by World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), World Vision Kenya and the County government.
Speaking in his Iten Town Offices Tuesday morning while addressing a stakeholders’ meeting, H. E Governor Alex Tolgos welcomed the undertaking and appreciated the project partners for coming up with strategies targeted to reversing land degradation trends.
The team led by ICRAF Kenya representative Mr Jonathan Muriuki and World Vision’s Project Manager Charles Odhiambo had paid courtesy call to the Governor before heading for Chebara in Marakwet West sub-county to assess some of the tree nurseries.
The Governor said reversing degradation would require change of community mindset so that local residents could embrace conservation initiatives.
“In Elgeyo Marakwet, we have been targeting women to do conservation because they are the ones who fetch firewood and when it comes to establishment of tree nurseries and planting, they are also the best in influencing their households,” said Tolgos.
The Governor said farmers in the region were accustomed to maize farming which required clearing of vegetation and this was an impediment to conservation efforts.
“We encourage our farmers to embrace Fruit Tree farming because, they can still realize meaningful returns from the venture at the same time conserving the environment” said the County boss.
According to Tolgos, though Elgeyo Marakwet ranks second County in Kenya with the largest Forest cover at 37%, there was need to boost the percentage upwards.
” In fact, there should be a declaration compelling Counties to set aside funding for conservation because if this is not taken seriously, the people will suffer the consequences during rainy seasons,”
The Governor added:”What happened in Liter, Endo location recently where a whole secondary school was swept away including the school bus were effects of environmental degradation,”
The meeting was also attended by CEC for Environment Water and Climate Change Abraham Barsosio and his Chief Officer Josphat Tanui.
Mr Barsosio said at least 47 farmer groups in the county have been trained and supported to establish tree Nurseries ready for the planting exercise.