The local residents in Tana River County have called on the government to eradicate the ‘Mathenge’ tree known as Propopis Juliflora because it is affecting their livelihoods.
Speaking to the press on Tuesday at Kinakomba location one of the famers, Hamesa Jillo said the Mathenge tree has invaded over10, 000 acres of farmland, and 5,000 acres of grazing land and was draining water from river Tana adding, “Our crops cannot yield as we desire, because the crops are getting choked with this weed,” said Jillo.
Jillo said the tree has forced some farmers in Tana Delta Sub County to abandon farms and resort to fishing.
The locals also said the Mathenge tree had caused more harm to people, where individuals are suffering wounds caused by the tree’s thorns.
Jillo said the trees though introduced to the county at a time of need had outlived their importance, and if not controlled now, it may drain up all waters of river Tana.
“We don’t have grazing land, yet we do get sufficient rain here seasonally, we are hence forced to travel to Boni forest through the delta where our animals feed on farms hence the frequent conflicts,” said Adan Shukri a pastoralist.
Responding to the claims, the Deputy Director of Kenya Forest Research Institute Support Services (KEFRI), Dr. Gabriel Muturi said a research carried out by KEFRI found out that the tree could be made economically viable through charcoal burning instead of destroying it.
He said if the tree is fast terminated from Tana River County, the area is likely to suffer adverse climatic conditions including wind erosion.
“We have a regional centre in Malindi we shall use it to sensitize the locals, we will come to do a demo on how they can use pods with machine to produce charcoal using the kilns from next month we shall bring KEFRI Scientists from Karura and Gede forests,” he said.
As experts, he said they took the knowledge to Baringo County and its working wonders such that locals will not accept the tree to be destroyed.
Mathenge tree was first seen in Tana River County in 1998 at Bura irrigation scheme when its effects were felt as dangerous, and have since remained to cover a larger part of the irrigation schemes in the area.
By Simon Guruba