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Baringo MCA urges KFS to reinstate cultivation of food crops in forests

Baringo County Assembly Majority Leader Lawi Kipchumba has called upon Kenya Forest Service (KFS) to allow farmers living adjacent to forest plantations to carry out pelis cultivation.

Kipchumba said it was unfortunate that KFS management effected the ban without due consideration for farmers who have been cultivating food crops in the government forests for a long time as they help tend planted trees.

The MCA said that farmers for instance at Narasha forest in Lembus Kwen of Koibatek who used to depend on pelis system formerly known as shamba system are frustrated lot as their source of livelihood have been cut off.

“Like for instant farmers within Narasha Forest in Lembus Kwen have stopped planting maize after a circular from forest service was issued barring them from planting long term crops within the forest. Most of these farmers got discouraged with some resorting to illegal activities for survival like brewing of illicit brews,” Kipchumba insisted.

He lamented that, effects brought by the ban has led to low survival rate of trees and massive degradation of the forest.

The ward representative argued that the ban on cultivation in the forest plantation has resulted in low survival of tree seedlings, a situation, he further noted has been worsened by the engagement of Kazi Mtaani workers who have less experience in the management of trees.

For the decade long programme to continue bearing fruits in the realisation of the envisioned 10 per cent forest cover, he stated, there is urgent need to allow communities living adjacent to the forests to undertake crop cultivation.

The majority leader foresaw degradation of government protected forests if the situation continues without involving farmers in planting and tending of trees due to their vast experiences in management and protection of forests.

KFS Management and Advisory Services officer Elphas Wesonga while commenting, told KNA that it is true, farmers were allowed to cultivate crops in forest plantations in the past but this year, the ministry did away with the arrangement after realising that crops would suppress the new planted seedlings.

“Farmers didn’t take it lightly when they were told that cultivation of crops has been stopped. Most of them are still to come to terms with the shocker directive by the forest service,” Wesonga said.

Wesonga cited eight forest stations in the county where farmers used to cultivate crops as they assist in the development and protection of trees to include; Kabarnet, Tenges, Narasha, Maji Mazuri, Sabatia, Koibatek, Chemususu and Esageri blocks.

By Jebichii Chepkwony

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