Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has urged the Kenya Forestry Service (KFS) to partner with the Israeli government to increase Kenya’s forest cover.
Addressing a gathering of Kenyan and Israeli officials at the Grove of the Nations at the Jerusalem Forest here Tuesday, he said the KFS and the Foreign Ministry should sign an agreement with the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) to see the proposal come to fruition.
“I ask the forestry service and the foreign ministry to fast-track the Memorandum of Understanding to gain from the great strides Israel has made on the environment,” he said.
The president was speaking on the sidelines of a ceremonial tree-planting exercise at the Grove of the Nations where he became the 80th head of state to plant an olive tree at the site, an honour reserved for visiting dignitaries.
The KKL-JNF are specialist in reclaiming dry land and desert ecosystems and have been instrumental in increasing the forest cover in Israel. In Kenya, they are involved in a food security project in Turkana, Kenya’s northwestern province, to address food security concerns, while enhancing the livelihoods of the people there.
President Kenyatta said Kenya could learn from the Israeli experience which saw them plant 250 million trees over the past few years.
The President also called on a KKL-JNF project that is engaging 132 farms in Turkana to be expanded to encourage irrigation in areas where rain-fed agriculture is a problem.
The agreement will be part of the deals President Kenyatta expects to draw from the Jewish state during his three-day State visit which began Tuesday, aimed at fostering relations with the country and at enhancing Kenya’s trade, security, agriculture as well as water and irrigation sectors.
The president held separate bilateral talks with the Prime Minister and President of Israel and visited the holocaust museum in Jerusalem at the start of his visit.
On Wednesday, the president will visit an Israeli irrigation instalment in a bid to get first-hand experience on desert and irrigation farming. He is accompanied by, among other government officials, Cabinet Secretaries (ministers) Eugene Wamalwa and Amina Mohammed.