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Tobacco farmers will have to grow trees or forget about the crop

Tobacco  farmers  in Migori County have been put on notice to start planting trees or face a ban in growing the crop as from next season.

Governor  Okoth  Obado  said plans were on to legislate laws that would compel farmers to plant at least 20 trees in their small farms to assist  them cure  their  tobacco crop.

“The proposed laws  will force farmers to plant tree seedlings in their small plots with a view to ensuring they have enough wood-fuel to cure  their crops as well as in protecting the local environment,” said  Obado.

He  said  during a Farmer’s Field  Day  in Uriri constituency that his government would initiate a tree seedling project to supply farmers with  millions of seedlings at a subsidised price.

Obado  expressed concern at the wanton destruction of forest in the region mainly as a result of tobacco farming and urged the local people  to embrace the spirit of increasing forest cover through planting more trees.

Tobacco  crop requires tons of wood-fuel to cure in the kilns and farmers have been indiscriminately harvesting trees towards this course but  with little efforts to replace the felled trees.

Large  scale  tree felling  within the county has also led to the area experiencing low rainfall, serious soil erosion and decline in land fertility  and  high  river siltation.

Governor  Obado appealed to the British American Tobacco (BAT) and Mastermind Tobacco Kenya, the two tobacco buying firms in the county, to also put more emphasis in afforestation programmes that would help in increasing forest cover and protect the environment.

By  Linet Kichari/George Agimba

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