Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) will by the end of this year store up to 300 metric tons of certified tree seeds that if successfully developed, will translate to three billion tree seedlings.
This follows the government’s effort to strategically build the capacity of KEFRI to have more seed centres that will store certified seed to be availed to stakeholders who partner with the government in the Kenya greening project policy.
The greening Kenya project is aimed at increasing the country’s forest cover from 7 per cent to 10 per cent of the land mass by 2030.
Environment and Forestry Principal Secretary Dr. Chris Kiptoo said with the government’s investment KEFRI is going to increase its seed centres to 18 nationally from the initial one centre that was based at Muguga.
“When the ministry came up with its strategy aimed at restoring and rehabilitating degraded areas of our landscape by planting trees in every available space in gazetted government forests, gazetted water towers, and wetlands outside gazetted areas as well as mangrove ecosystems and green spaces in towns, we had to up our game by supporting KEFRI increase its capacity in certified seed development and distribution,” said the PS.
Dr. Kiptoo was speaking during the distribution of certified tree seeds from KEFRI to the six regional development agencies at the KVDA tree nursery in Eldoret.
The PS added that when they started implementing the strategy, KEFRI’s seed capacity was 10 metric tons annually which could develop 200 million seedlings per year from the one seed centre at Muguga.
The PS however said with the government’s intervention, KEFRI has increased its seed centres to six currently with a capacity of 80 metric tons, “We have increased the seed capacity of KEFRI from 10metric tons to 80 metric tons in its stores currently, with 18 seed centres fully installed by the end of the year, KEFRI will have a storage capacity of 300 metric tons annually,” he added.
Dr. Kiptoo, who was accompanied by Principal Secretary State Department Regional Development and Northern Corridor Development Dr. Belio Kipsang, also announced that his ministry will partner with various stakeholders from the private and public sector to raise two billion tree seedlings from the 80 metric tons of seed at KEFRI that will be distributed equally.
“We ask partners to support the initiative, we hope the private sector will produce one million tree seedlings, and the public sector to also produce one million seedlings,” said Dr. Kiptoo.
From the public sector, the PS added, they had identified 4,800 schools that they would partner with in the initiative. TIVETS and other public institutions of high learning have also been roped in as well as the Ministry of EAC, Regional Development and Northern corridor, and the State Department for Correctional Services, “together we can be able to produce the one billion seedlings going forward,” he hoped.
From the Private sector, we encourage youth groups, women groups, community forest associations (CFA’s) to have registered tree nurseries where we can buy seedlings from them, said the PS.
On forest cover, the PS said a recent report indicated that the country was doing well a report assessment released on May 27 indicated that Kenya’s forest cover had increased to 8.8 per cent compared to 6.99 per cent in 2010 and 7.2 per cent in 2015.
On tree cover, the country is now way ahead of the constitutional requirement of at least 10 per cent having attained an increase to 12.3 per cent, said Dr. Kiptoo.
“We are however still quite low when we compare with the rest of the world. We need to move and ensure that with the capacity we have installed through KEFRI, and if we can do 2 billion tree seedlings every year consistently we will be talking of a very improved situation by the year 2030,” he observed.
Kerio Valley Development Authority, KVDA Managing director Sammy Naporos thanked the ministry of environment for facilitating KEFRI to increase its capacity of producing more certified tree seeds.
“As KVDA we are now in a position to produce up to 20 million tree seedlings from the current 2m annually from the 10 tree nurseries we have across the eight counties of Northern Kenya because of the boost of certified seed from KEFRI,” said Naporos.
“The main challenge we have been having is the availability of certified seed, but with the boost from KEFRI we are sure of increasing the production of tree seedlings since we have a huge infrastructure to utilize for the production and contribute towards the Kenya greening project,” he added.