Sunday, May 26, 2024
Home > Counties > County initiates research on ‘Mathenge plant’

County initiates research on ‘Mathenge plant’

Isiolo County is set to conduct research on an invasive Mathenge plant which has encroached on vast areas of the Arid and Semi-Arid area for a long time.

The County government’s Livestock and Agriculture department is collaborating with the VSF – Suisse organisation and the University of Nairobi in a three-month initiative to research on the invasive ‘Prosopis Juliflora’ locally referred to as Mathenge plant.

The research comes before the implementation of a three-year project for ‘strengthening drought resilience of Agro-Pastoral (INNOPLA) communities in Isiolo County’

Among the areas to be covered in the research include Mnadanur and Korbesa areas in Merti Sub-County where the residents and stakeholders will present advantages and disadvantages and any strategies related to management of the invasive plant.

Speaking at the two target villages, Isiolo Chief Officer for Livestock Production Mr. Isaiah Epuri said the project would help the County government in its effort to manage the Mathenge Plant.

He called for community co-operation during the research period so that the county could get favourable results.

He emphasised on the importance of the research before the INNOPLA project’s implementation because it will guide the entire process.

The Chief Officer was accompanied by VSF officials and representative professors and students from the University of Nairobi.

Members of the Community asked the development partners to lay emphasis on provision of resources for the project to be successful unlike in the past when efforts to manage invasion of Mathenge failed for lack of proper coordination and resources.

The INNOPLA project is funded by several Swiss Foundations and Cantons to the tune of Sh. 42 million with a view to improving livestock, environment and the people’s health.

According to the VSF-Suisse Country Director Dr. Davis Ikiror, the INNOPLA project aims to improve food and nutrition security and enhance the resilience of agro-pastoral communities to droughts.

The project includes promoting the use of livestock feed based on ground Prosopis juliflora pods, especially during the dry season. The research will also determine the cost, nutritional value, and safety of Prosopis juliflora-based feeds compared to other compound feeds.

Prosopis Juliflora which was introduced in Isiolo County in the mid-80s to control soil erosion has significantly affected the environment and local livelihoods raising concerns on the rapid spread of the plant covering large areas including grazing land and river banks, limiting access to water and pasture for livestock.

A resident, Mr Ibrahim Golicha from Merti town, lamented the negative effects on biodiversity, reduced water availability, and the resulting human-animal conflicts due to the plant’s deep roots depleting water tables.

Some residents outlined various disadvantages, including tooth decay in animals, outbreak of diseases like Kalazaar due to house flies breeding on Mathenge vegetation, and blocked water pathways.

Mr. Abdullahi Halkano pointed out that they were forced to relocate children from Mnadanur Primary School since the plant had encroached on the compound blocking access roads due to the institution.

Consortium Manager of VSF-Suisse, Ms Genevieve Owuor, said the project’s components include training participants to produce, utilise, store, and market livestock feed from ground Prosopis pods.

Students from the University of Nairobi will conduct studies on the nutritional value, shelf life, and safety of Prosopis-based feeds under local conditions, comparing them with market available feeds under local conditions supervised by Nairobi University lecturers.

By David Nduro

Leave a Reply