|The Head of Conservancy for Eastern Mr. Samuel Ihure addressing graduating farmers and guests at Kitoo in Mutomo District during the graduation of farmers|
|Graduating farmers of Kavukua FFFS take fellow farmers through their model woodlot at Kavukua area in Kitui Central District|
|Graduating farmers and guests engage in group dynamics or entertainment at a graduation ceremony in Zombe District of larger Kitui|
|The Head of Drylands for KFS Mr. Clement Ng'oriareng' (r) presents a certificate to one of the graduating farmers at Kitoo in Mutomo District|
|A farmer adorns a t-shirt with the writing: Mkulima Mtaalamu (expert farmer)|
The Kenya Forest Service (KFS) will use the Farmer Forest Field School (FFFS) methodology as one of the ways of increasing Kenya’s forest cover to the prerequisite 10%. This was said by the Head of Drylands for KFS Mr. Clement Ng’oriareng’ when he officiated over the graduation of farmers who had undergone a one year FFFS training in Kitui Forest Zone recently.
“The new Constitution requires us as Kenyans to attain and maintain a 10% forest cover and the FFFS is one of the best ways through which we can achieve this”, said Mr. Ng’riareng at Kavukua in Kitui Central. The country’s development blueprint – vision 2030 – had also set the target of Kenya attaining the required forest cover, he added. He congratulated the farmers and encouraged them to put to practice what they had learnt saying that KFS will continue working with them.
Speaking at the same event, Ms Jane Ndeti, the Project Manager for Support to Community Based Farm Forestry Enterprises (SCBFFE) which is sponsoring Farm Forestry Field Schools in Kitui, Tharaka and Mbeere forest zones said that 24 farmer field schools with over 180 individual farmers will be graduating this year. She added that another 28 schools will be opened and trained for another one year.
The Project Manager said that the project was initiated by the Kenya and Japan Governments to assist farmers in dry lands acquire necessary skills to enable them establish viable farm forestry enterprises that they can use to alleviate their status of living as well as increase tree cover in the arid areas.
Ms Ndeti added that the project was now working with organized groups comprising of graduated farmer field schools and others engaged in environmental enterprises in a bid to offer them loans with which they can start income generating activities within their farms.
She urged the graduating farmer groups to join networks which she said were working with the project for this purpose.
The Zonal Forest Manager for Kitui Mr. Maurice Wanyiri while addressing the same gatherings also congratulated the farmers saying that Kitui Zone had the highest number of farmer field schools established under the project with 12 of them graduating this year while 16 more will be opened in the next year.
The farmers were taken through practical lessons on fruit orchard, woodlot and tree nursery management by farmer facilitators who are themselves graduates of the FFFS system who have undergone further training. KFS technical officers only support in terms of logistics and backstopping in a forest extension methodology that has been described as the best. The farmers are also trained in other fields including poultry farming, goat keeping, rabbit rearing among other enterprises to supplement their incomes from forest related enterprises.
The FFFS that graduated in Kitui include; Kavukua, Kaungu, Nziani, Soweto Youth, Meko, Muuo and Kalungu. Others are; Tuone Mbee, Sisi kwa Sisi, Wasya wa Usai, Usenyu and Vaati FFFS.
Article and Pictures by Leakey Sonkoyo