Busia residents have been challenged to plant trees to boost the county’s forest cover which currently stands at 1 per cent.
Speaking during the launch of short rains tree planting exercise at Nambale Vocational Training on Thursday, officials from the County Government, Kenya Forest Service and the National Environmental Trust Fund called for concerted efforts to meet the set target.
Chairman NETFUND Moses Akaranga, said that as a way of encouraging protection of environment, the politics of trees should be used to determine the fate of current politicians whether they will retain their seats or not in 2022 general elections.
“After the historical handshake between President Uhur Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, it’s now time to plant trees since peace is prevailing in the country, “he said.
The former Vihiga Governor said the country needs to plant 500million tree seedlings per year in the next four years to achieve the 10% national forest cover target by 2022 and not in 2030 as earlier envisaged.
Busia Deputy Governor Moses Mulomi said leaders in the county should lead by example in planting trees on their farms to boost tree cover instead of just sitting on the periphery.
He said the county government will collaborate with all agencies to give priority to tree planting, adding that although there are doubts over the county’s forest cover, the 600 hectares designated areas have lower tree cover.
Mulomi said the European Union under the water tower Program has offered Sh142million grant to the County to help in environmental conservation, particularly afforestation and reforestation of hilltops and hillsides, adding that they have also set aside some funds to help in tree planting.
KFS- Head of Conservancy Western Region John Wachihi said in order to achieve 10 per cent forest cover by 2020, Busia County needs to plant 15millon trees on its 12,680 hectares out of 126,000Ha in the county.
Acting Chief Conservator of Kenya Forest Service, Monica Kalenda called on the county leadership to work around the clock to match Bungoma, Vihiga and Kakamega which have attained 10% forest cover.
Acting CEO NETFUND Samson Tuniok said the FUND will collaborate with Busia County Government to undertake briquettes business where rice and coffee husks will be used to produce biomass to replace charcoal.
Those present included County Water Executive committee member Dr Isaac Alukwe, Chief Officers Daniel Mogoria (Education and VTC), Ruth Mukhongo (Agriculture), Dan Opilio (County Director Environment and Natural resources) , Busia County Ecosystem conservator James Were and chairman Nambale VTC Leonard Murwayi.
Moses Akaranga was representing CS Keriako Tobiko who was expected to preside over the exercise but didn’t come due to other urgent matters he had to attend to.