Kenya: The Chief Conservator of Forests, Julius Kamau, today officiated the Farm Forestry Field Schools (FFFS) graduation ceremony for 70 farmers in Kisii and Nyamira counties who benefitted from a one-year training by the Kenya Forest Service through the Green Zones Development Support Project Phase II (GZDSP-II).
The project, which is funded by the Government of Kenya and the African Development Bank, is being implemented in 15 counties around three water towers of Mau, Mt Kenya and Aberdares. Through the FFS model, the project focuses on strengthening forest conservation, community livelihood and food security in the country by educating local farmers on best agroforestry practices and farm produces value chain addition and establishment of income-generating activities.
While awarding certificates to the graduands, the CCF expressed his optimism in the GZDSP-II contributing immensely to the prevailing policy in the forestry sector that was recently elaborated when H.E the President launched a National Tree Growing and Restoration Campaign, which aims to grow 15 billion trees by 2032 translating to 30% national tree cover.
“It is important to note that the greatest potential for increasing tree cover is outside State-owned forest areas, especially farmlands and community lands, which also play a critical role as water catchment areas,” noted the CCF.
In line with that, he confirmed that KFS had institutionalized the FFFS as a viable methodology for promoting farm forestry and addressing the livelihoods needs of local communities. The approach has mainstreamed forestry activities in farmlands with impressive results being realized.
Mr Kamau noted that the approach is not only administered as an extension tool but has also created a critical mass of enlightened community members who can spearhead and lead tree-growing efforts at the grassroots.
Under GZDSP II, a total of 15 Field Schools have so far graduated with a membership of 324 graduands and targets to establish 60 field schools throughout the project lifespan.
It has been observed that FFS graduates make better management decisions at their farms and are better equipped to demand services from various service providers.
Noting that Kisii County’s forest cover currently stands at 15.06% while Tree Cover stands at 26.6%, Kamau challenged the graduates to take the lead in tree growing in Kisii and Nyamira and increase the forest cover in line with the new national target. He also advised youth from the region to engage in tree-growing activities as the ‘green army’ that will transform the nation.
The CCF was joined by the County Commissioner, Mr Tom Anjere, GZDSP-II Project Manager Mr Jerome Mwanzia, Nyanza Regional Forest Conservator, Mr Simon Wahome, Kisii County CFC, Mr Wellington Ndaka and a host of local leaders from the region including MCAs.