|The host farmer Mr. James Kimuri, shares with the participants of the booklets launch the benefits of growing the Eucalyptus Tree|
|The Minister of Forestry and Wildlife Hon. Dr. Noah Wekesa plants a Eucalyptus Tree at the venue of launch|
The Minister of Forestry and Wildlife, Dr Noah Wekesa on Monday launched a booklet meant to guide farmers on Eucalyptus growing and use in Kenya. The well attended occasion held at Kiawathanji in Nyeri county, was graced by many Dignitaries among them the Minister of forestry and wildlife, Permanent Secretary, Chairman Kenya Forest Service, Director KFS, Director KEFRI among others.
In his speech, the Minister assertively noted that Eucalyptus trees are lost at a time when the country is under pressure to conserve its forest cover amid rising demand for land from a surging population. ‘The tree was unfairly demonized before research had been done on its true effects on the environment’. He also warned that evictions from gazetted forests would continue, emphasizing that Kenya was the only country that people settled in forests because in other countries then one would be behind bars. So it was imperative that Kenyans separate politics from matters of preserving forests so that we achieve 10 per cent cover by 2030. Thus the importance of setting aside 10 per cent of individual land to plant trees.
He however commended the host farmer Mr James Kimuri for his good work that was easily visible in the beautiful Eucalyptus forest in his home. Mr. James also had a chance to comment and told of the gains he had derived from the eucalyptus tree since he began cultivating it years ago. In his own words he said ‘There before I had coffee on my farm but the returns were not as much. The trees take a short period of between five to seven years to mature, I can get 3,000per tree since I can sell them in form of poles and firewood to tea factories around’. It was noted that Nyeri County had planted 90% of trees with a 30% tree cover.
The Kenya Forest Service Director Mr David K Mbugua who was also in attendance emphasized the use of eucalyptus tree as a buffer for people who need trees and the indigenous forest. He acknowledged that the eucalyptus fulfils the needs that would be met by people cutting down indigenous trees. Since over 80 per cent of Kenyans use wood fuel the demand for wood is high, thus eucalyptus come in handy since it matures faster, and so it is an idea by KFS to make it a business and ensure it is embraced by a vast number of people. He then promised that he would ensure the books launched would be translated in a language that would be easy for people to comprehend. The book contains among other information ten species of Eucalyptus that can be grown in Kenya, areas suitable for planting, areas to avoid, management among other useful information that could see you reap excellent results from planting Eucalyptus.
Story by Caroline Wambui
Pictures by Vincent Bwire