The drive to boost forest cover in Kisumu County has kicked off in earnest with state and non-state actors taking a leading role.
State Department for Trade Principal Secretary (PS) Alfred K’ombudo who launched the initiative at Kajulu Hills in Kisumu East Sub-County decried the poor forest cover in the area asking members of the public to actively participate in the government programme to reverse the worrying figures.
“Kisumu has one of the lowest forest covers in the country. We want to help bridge the gap through this programme,” he said.
Tree planting, he added, was necessary to help conserve the environment and attract rain to boost agricultural activities in the area.
“Most of the food consumed in this area is sourced from other counties. We must therefore take this exercise very seriously to attract rain which will enable us to venture into farming to enhance food security,” said the PS.
He challenged farmers to grow fruit trees in their homes to boost forest cover and take care of their nutrition needs.
This, he said, was expected to boost agro-processing activities in the lakeside county urging the farmers to form cooperatives through which they can access loans to run their activities.
The programme, he added, will restore the environment in the area as the country grapples with the effects of climate change.
Kenya, he added, risked losing some of her traditional trade partners due to environmental degradation calling on Community Based Organizations and grassroots organizations in the area to partner with the government to make the programme a success.
“We are moving around the world to convince our friends to buy our products and they are saying that if we cannot take care of our environment then they will not do business with us,” he said.
Nyanza Acting Regional Commissioner Pauline Dola said chiefs and assistant chiefs have been given targets of planting 3, 000 trees per month.
The administrators, she added, will also mobilize members of the community to actively participate in the exercise which aims to boost the overall tree cover in the country to 30%.
Kenya Forest Service (KFS) officers, he said, will advise on the species to be planted in the area to increase survival rates.
The programme is part of President Dr. William Ruto’s plan to grow five billion new trees as part of his climate change mitigation agenda.
By Chris Mahandara and Joseph Ouma