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Leaders declare mathenge tree threat to food security

A section of Baringo County residents is set to petition the government through a member of the county assembly to have some exotic tree species grown along critical water sources cut for contributing to food insecurity.

Saimo Kipsaraman, MCA John Aengwo, who voiced the concerns of the affected residents, said that besides Prosopis Juliflora, popularly known as Mathenge, which is devastating farmers in parts of Baringo South, Eucalyptus was also another disastrous plant.

Director of Kenya Seed Company, flanked by Baringo County Executive Committee Member for Agriculture Rispher Chepkonga, preparing to plant an indigenous tree at depleted Kapcheptoo area which is at the peak of hilly Saimo Forest in Baringo North sub-county. Photo by Vincent Miningwo

“The eucalyptus trees are everywhere, especially in highland areas found in parts of Baringo North, and these trees must be cut because they are reducing the productivity of our farmlands, thereby contributing greatly to food insecurity,” he said.

Aengwo stated that he could not relent over his affirmation, saying that Eucalyptus is also depleting water sources; hence, they must be cut, especially those along water catchments.

While speaking at Kabartonjo town in Baringo North sub-county during the countrywide national tree planting exercise, Aengwo affirmed that the questionable tree species must be cut and replaced with those that are friendly to their soil and the environment.

“Mr. County Commissioner, Mashack Namai,we are going to bring a motion in the Assembly that is going to compel Wanainchi to cut the tree called Eucalyptus grown along the river sources,” he reiterated.

Aengwo championed the growing of indigenous trees, saying they were friendly to the environment and to the community.

The County Executive Committee member for Agriculture, Rispher Chepkonga, who represented Governor Benjamin Cheboi, noted that the county government is going to support the residents in establishing tree nurseries across the seven subcounties through organised groups in a move meant to meet the increasing demand for tree seedlings.

Kenya Seed Company Director Symon Cherogony, who brought 1,500 assorted tree seedlings donated by his company, encouraged residents to plant coffee and fruit trees and utilise this rainy season to grow different varieties of short-season crops like beans, maize, and potatoes.

Baringo North Sub-County Forest Officer Hellen Shikuku urged the residents to plant trees continuously and ensure they protect them from being destroyed by livestock until they reach maturity.

Shikuku warned that stern action shall be taken on those invading indigenous forests for logging, farming, or grazing of livestock, saying such human activities compromise the maturity of tree seedlings, a move that she noted was not going to be tolerated since it was a sabotage of a government initiative.

Baringo North MP Joseph Makilap, who officiated the planting of over 10,300 tree seedlings in the areas, lauded all the entities which donated seedlings, saying their support came in handy at a time when the products were few.

Makilap encouraged jobless youth and women to venture into raising tree nurseries and take it as a serious economic activity because they are going to benefit from the ready market provided by the demand for the 15 billion trees required to be grown by 2032 across the country.

By Vincent Miningwo/Joshua Kibet

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