Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of science and technology (JOOUST) intends to plant at least 3000 tree seedlings each month in Siaya County with an aim of influencing rainfall patterns in region.
Vice Chancellor Prof. Stephen Agong said increased rainfall will transform the county into a rain fed agricultural region with the aim of promoting food security.
Speaking during the launch of the tree planting programme at the university compound, Prof. Agong revealed that all the trees will be assigned mentors who will be responsible in ensuring that they grow to maturity.
Professor Agong also pointed out that the tree cover will also be beneficial to Lake Victoria which he cited to be a major source of income for the residents.
Kenya Forest Research Institute(KEFRI) lake basin Regional director Dr. Jared Amwata stated that Siaya County is among 33 counties where the project of tree planting is taking place.
Dr. Amwata revealed that Siaya County has a tree cover of 0.04% with the areas surrounding the Lake Victoria recording the lowest percentage of tree cover.
He revealed that other than the 3000 tree seedlings being planted by JOOUST, KEFRI also intends to plant a similar number during this long rain season in Bondo Sub County.
.And the Migori County government has called on tobacco farmers to start planting trees in large numbers to help conserve the local environment.
Governor Zachary Okoth Obado said farmers needed to urgently replace harvested trees with new ones since their activities require large quantities of wood-fuel to cure their green tobacco leaves.
He said the current torrential rains pounding the region provided a good opportunity for the farmers and all residents to plant trees with a view to increase forest cover.
Tobacco crop requires tons of wood-fuel to cure in the kilns and farmers have been indiscriminately harvesting trees towards this cause but with little efforts to replace the felled trees.
Governor Obado announced that the County Assembly will make laws that would compel farmers to plant 100 trees in their farms to assist them cure their tobacco crop.
The assembly is currently working on proposed laws that will require farmers to plant tree seedlings in their small plots to ensure they have enough wood-fuel to cure their tobacco leaves and at the same time help in protecting the local environment, the county boss explained.
Obado said his government will initiate a tree seedling project to supply farmers with millions of seedlings at subsidized prices.
This follows a major concern regarding wanton destruction of forests in the region mainly through tobacco farming, and urged the local people to embrace the spirit of increasing forest cover through planting more trees.
Large scale tree felling within the county has also led to the area experiencing low rainfall, serious soil erosion and decline in land fertility and high river siltation.
Governor Obado appealed to the British American Tobacco (BAT) and Mastermind Tobacco Kenya, the two remaining tobacco buying firms in the county, to also put more emphasis in afforestation to help increase forest cover and protect the environment.
Source: Kenya News Agency