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Kieni residents call for re-introduction of Shamba System



Tuesday, November 29th, 2022 19:40 | By

Nyeri senator Wahome Wamatinga enjoys a cup of porridge with residents of Kabaru after leading them in a tree planting exercise. PHOTO/Loise Wambugu

Kabaru residents in Kieni West sub-county are urging the government to allow them to farm in the neighbouring Mount Kenya Forest as they conserve it by planting trees through the Shamba System.

The farmers say this will enable them to eradicate hunger as they also protect the ecosystem.

According to Peter Wachira, Chairman of Kabaru Community Forest Association (CFA), 74 hectares of the forest land will benefit over 1000 farmers.

“Every farmer gets half an acre piece of land and if well cultivated, it is possible to reap crops worth Ksh50 million which will be of great benefit to the community,” Wachira said.

He said recommendations by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua to return the shamba system is a welcome move because it will help them eradicate hunger which has greatly hit the area due to the prolonged rain shortage, as well as squeezed land.

“We welcome the deputy president’s idea to return the shamba system because we have very small portions of land but if allowed to farm in the forest, we will be able to make big harvests and eradicate drought in Kieni,” he said.

The residents have already occupied 182 acres of the forest land where they are planting 100,000 indegenous and exotic trees and tending them for a period of three years.

The farmers also want to be allowed to plant maize on the farms, noting that it will not affect the trees in any way.

“Our prayer to the government is that it allows us to also plant maize as it is a major crop and we can assure them that it will not in any way affect the ecosystem,” a farmer said.

Nyeri Senator Wahome Wamatinga, who led the residents in a tree planting exercise in the area, said by involving the residents to farm as they tend the trees, will not only increase the forest cover but also increase the carbon credit.2

Gachagua on Shamba System

Gachagua ignited a political debate with his remarks that the government shall allow the Shamba System farming in forests.

Top environmentalists as well as politicians differed on whether the country was ready for the adoption of the system.

Gachagua said farmers living around forests could revert to the ‘Shamba’ farming system as a source of livelihood to boost food production.

At the funeral service of Baringo Deputy Governor Charles Kipng’ok in Eldama Ravine, Baringo County, Gachagua said the orders will be implemented by the cabinet.

“Forests belong to citizens, you are the ones who take care of them all these years. There is a CS who came and banned you from taking even a leaf to cook. The leaves are rotting,” said Gachagua.

The ban was imposed in January 2021 by Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration on grounds that the farming system popular during the late President Daniel arap Moi’s era degraded the environment.

Saw millers in Nakuru led by Timber Manufactures Association Treasurer Zackayo Maina, expressed their frustrations with the previous regime saying the multi-billion shilling sector had collapsed due to wayward directives.

Maina hoped that the current administration will lift the moratorium on logging to revive the sector.

He said that the government lost billions in taxes since 2018 saying that the factory had employed at least 2,000 people who were sent home after the ban.

 Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei said the directive is welcome as it will help grow forests, and that it will be smoothly carried out to avoid logging. 

“Shamba system shall accelerate 10 per cent forest cover & it is in line with climate change policies, also ensure food security, therefore, bringing down cost of living.

“There shall be no illegal logging or land grabbing. It will create community ownership & protection of forests in Kenya,” Cherargei said.