The Government has partnered with the African Guarantee Fund (AGF) to roll out a greening initiative in Kisumu County with a view to boosting forest cover in the area.
The Kisumu Greening Initiative, a partnership between the State Department for Trade, State Department for Forestry and AGF is part of the government’s target to plant 15 billion trees, to achieve 30 percent forest cover by the year 2032.
Trade Principal Secretary (PS), Alfred K’ombudo, said the initiative targets to give impetus to ecological restoration efforts in Lakeside County which has one of the lowest forest covers in the country at 0.44 percent.
Through the partnership, he said 20, 000 trees shall be planted this season in Nyakach Sub-County, adding that the initiative would be scaled-up to cover the other Sub- counties in the area.
“We are making our contribution towards the 15 billion trees target through this initiative. We want to be able to green Kisumu and improve forest cover and capability of the community in several ways,” he said.
Speaking during the launch of the drive at Rarieda Kokech Primary School in Nyakach Sub-county, the PS said through funding from AGF, members of the community have been issued with fruit tree seedlings as well to reap economic benefits from the exercise.
The trees among them grafted mangoes, oranges, lemon and tamarind, he added, were part of the State Department of Trade’s initiative to bring in a commercial aspect in the tree planting exercise, to economically empower communities.
“Greening is not just about trees. It is also about the commercial aspect of ensuring that trees are part of the livelihood of the community,” he said.
The State Department for Trade, he said, has been incorporated in the National Tree Planting Steering Committee, to exploit the commercial aspect of the initiative.
“We are not just pushing for fruits trees but also the indigenous trees with medicinal value so that we can help farmers secure markets for the products locally and abroad,” he said.
K’ombudo called for more partnerships to scale-up the project to boost forest cover and address challenges posed by Climate Change.
African Guarantee Fund Group, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Jules Ngankam, said besides procuring the tree seedlings, the Fund will support the community to nurture the trees to maturity, to ensure that the programme is sustained.
“This initiative calls for a lot of resilience. Some of the trees will take years before you start reaping the benefits, but you must take care of them so that they grow,” he said.
AGF, he said, was in full support of the government’s drive to plant 15 billion trees, to address Climate Change concerns.
State Department for Forestry, Director of Ecological Restoration, Erick Akotsi, lauded the partnership, saying it will go a long way in helping to achieve the 15 billion trees target.
The State Department, he added, has developed a strategy to support institutions and communities, to play an active role in the program to achieve set targets.
Strategies, awards and schemes have been established to incentivize communities and institutions involved in the exercise.
By Chris Mahandara