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