• May 20, 2024
  • Last Update May 20, 2024 3:02 PM
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Planning for a greener tomorrow in a smaller way

Planning for a greener tomorrow in a smaller way

Nyeri

Thursday May 16, 2024

KNA by Samuel Maina/Waithera Mumbi

Kenya has embarked on an aggressive campaign geared towards planting 15 billion trees by 2032.

Among the objectives is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to reverse deforestation which poses an existential threat to future generations.

Scientists and institutions like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), believe forests act as “carbon sinks”, that help reduce the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Locally, there have been numerous campaigns on tree planting over the years, such as the Million Operation Gavisha 1977, Trees Campaign 2006, The Greening Kenya Initiative 2010 and the Accelerated National Tree Growing Campaign 2022.

The Kenya Forest Policy 2014, Land Act 2012, Forest Conservation and Management Act (2016) and the National Climate Change Response Strategy form part of a wider plan that seeks to address how the country can increase her tree cover.

The Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA) estimates the shrinkage rate of our forests at 12,000 ha of forested land every single year.

Some of the underlying causes for the reduction include increased wood demand, population growth, expanding infrastructure, and forest conversion for large-scale farming.

Fortunately, most counties today have an element of environmental conservation policy right at the local level with Double M Tree nursery in Nyeri being such an example.

As we approach the nursery located right adjacent to the Nyeri-Othaya junction, our eyes are drawn irresistibly to the breath-taking sight of lush tree seedlings, some with blossoming multi coloured flowers.

Here we find men and women busy watering and tending the young seedlings.

We are warmly welcomed by Claire Wambui, the daughter to the tree nursery’s founder Mr Esau Mwangi.

Double M Tree was established in 2009 by Mwangi as a singular enterprise driven by a vision to make their little world greener.

This need was also driven by the scarcity of accessible tree nurseries around the county.

Today Double M has blossomed into a thriving enterprise with at least 400,000 tree seedlings to date.

There are two additional branches in Chania and Chaka town in Kieni Sub County.

Speaking to KNA, Wambui explained how the undertaking has significantly contributed to providing a lifeline to the locals who work as casuals.

She first took us around the nursery showcasing a variety of seedlings they rear, ranging from ornamental plants, fruits, flowers to indigenous grasses.

Some of the species of seedlings one can access from the nursery include bottle brush, jacaranda, Italian cypress, blue cypress, thuja cypress strawberry and guinea water berry among others.

“Rearing seedlings is a long and tedious process depending on the species. For some this can take up to a year like avocados which undergo grafting which takes about a year for it to be successful,” she explains.

Fruit seedlings are the most sought saplings due to their adaptability to various climatic conditions.

Prices of tree seedlings vary with their sizes, species variety and age with indigenous and orange seedlings attracting a higher cost.

For instance, avocado seedlings range from Sh 30 a sapling, oranges and indigenous trees going for at least Sh 150 apiece.

Clients who pass by to pick seedlings include private organisations, schools and individual farmers intending to establish woodlots in their farms.

At times the enterprise receives orders from the Kenya Forest Services (KFS) especially during national planting events when seedlings are often on high demand

“When we face shortage of some seedlings we often go to Kenya Forest Services and individual farmers to help replenish our stocks,” she adds.

But part of the challenges that face the nursery is constant theft of seedlings during the night due to lack of proper security fence on a night guard.

Among the challenges they face is theft, where tree seedlings are stolen overnight as the nursery is not gated.

Pests like aphids also cause another nuisance as they attack the young seedlings before they are ready for sale.

Aphids mainly attack the stem with the Lemon Cypress being one of their favourite targets.

Some seedlings are also affected by environmental conditions such as cold and extreme heat.

“With the on-going rains, acquiring manure has been our biggest challenge because our source’s location is currently inaccessible due to destroyed roads. Nevertheless, we have seen a rise in profits as many people and organisations tend to plant trees during the rainy season,” she says.

“Our future plans are centred on expanding our network of nurseries to nurture a greater variety of trees as part of our efforts to combat deforestation and meet the National Government’s target of planting 15 billion trees by 2032,” she says.

Wambui is advising anyone willing to venture into the business not to shrink back from taking the risk since it’s a profitable investment.

“If I were asked to take this venture year back, I’d shrug it off as a demeaning venture. But I have now gained much experience since then and this is the reason I can now confidently feed my family,” she admits.

She further challenges the young people against the tendency of shunning menial work with a parting shot urging them to try their hand in the tree nursery projects.

“With a start-up capital of sh50, 000 one can start a nursery on a small scale. A nursery doesn’t take up much space therefore establishing it is not a hard task,” she elucidates.

Courtesy: KNA

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