The County Government of Kilifi has asked residents to take advantage of the current rains to plant fruit trees as a source of food and at the same time green the environment by increasing forest cover.
The County Chief Officer for Crop Development, Mr. Teddy Yawa said the move would boost the country’s target of planting 15 billion trees by 2032 which was launched by President Dr. William Ruto as part of mitigation efforts on the effects of climate change.
He said Kilifi County has great potential for the growing fruit trees and that about 1.7 million cashew nut and mango trees had been panted over the past year, with another 24,000 set to be planted this season.
The County Chief Officer for Crop Development, Mr. Teddy Yawa, said the county needs to shift from merely growing trees for the sake of it, but instead plant trees that will have the dual purpose of conserving the environment as well as produce edible fruits.
Mr. Yawa, who was speaking during the Kilifi Annual Youth in Agribusiness Exhibition held in Tezo ward, rooted for the planting of mango trees saying they also produce good timber in a shorter time than neem trees (mwarubaini), which take up to 40 to be able to produce timber.
The Chief Officer at the same time urged youths to embrace agribusiness and stop lamenting that there are no job opportunities in the country.
“The solution to unemployment is thinking without the box. It is true there are no jobs, but we are surrounded by many raw materials – mangoes, cashew nuts, grounds nuts and fish. The you should therefore embrace the use of these materials to create employment for themselves,” he said.
He told farmers to grow high value crops as opposed to the traditional agricultural system, and gave an example of a youth group in Milore in Ganze that has benefitted a lot through engaging in horticultural activities.
Mr. Yawa said the County Government was helping the farmers, especially the youth, in value addition by providing them with small machines to process and package their farm produce in order to maximize profits.
Mr. Safari Ziro, the County Director of Agriculture, said the county had planted 1 million cashew nut trees and 700,000 mango trees in the past one year and that it was set to distribute to farmers 12,000 of each of the two fruit trees during the enhanced rains.
The chairperson of the Kenya National Association of Farmers, Mrs. Gertrude Bahati thanked the county government for organizing the exhibition but expressed dismay that the youth had not fully come out to participate in agricultural activities.
She also called for transparency in the distribution of seeds and fertilizer in order to boost agriculture in the county that perennially experiences food deficiency.
Mr. Lucas Mathole from Empowering Farmers Association said his organization was promoting a new fast maturing and high yielding cashew nut tree variety known as polyclonal that he said had become a game change in cashew production in the county.
The variety that matures in two and a half years, he said, had the ability to produce up to 40 kilogrammes of cashew nuts per tree as opposed to the older varieties that took more than five years to mature and had produced less nuts per tree.
The chairman of the Junju Matendo Farmers Community Based Organization, Mr. Crispus Mwaganda Said, said many youths had shunned agriculture and called for more awareness to be created among them to be able to embrace the same.
By Emmanuel Masha