• Kefri says the tree can be made economically viable through charcoal burning and provision of fodder
• The tree is working wonders in Baringo and residents will not allow it to be destroyed
Tana River county residents have appealed to the government to uproot the mathenge tree that has invaded their compounds, farms and grazing fields.
The worst affected regions are Tana Delta, Galole and Bura.
Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko was recently taken on a tour of Tana Delta by local leaders among them Senator Juma Wario, Garsen MP Ali Wario and Galole MP Said Hiribae to see the extent of the destruction.
They said Mathenge had caused a lot of harm to the community.
Wario said at Danisa in Garsen constituency that they wanted the tree uprooted and the residents to be given other seedlings by the ministry.
Tobiko, who was accompanied by forestry officials, promised to present their grievances to the Cabinet this week.
Kenya Forestry Research Institute deputy director of forest research support services Gabriel Muturi said mathenge is also common in Kajiado, Isiolo, Turkana, Wajir, Taita Taveta and Baringo counties.
Mathenge was first noticed in Tana River in 1998 at Bura Irrigation Scheme.
Muturi said research by Kefri found that the tree can be made economically viable through charcoal burning instead of destroying it.
Known botanically as prosopis juliflora, mathenge's other uses include provision of fencing posts, firewood and fodder. It is also used to reduce soil erosion and has medicinal value through solutions made from its leaves and pods.
Muturi said counties like Australia, the US, India and South Africa have not allowed complete eradication of mathenge.
Baringo residents, he said, had seen the benefits of mathenge. "It's working wonders and residents will not accept the tree to be destroyed."
The Kefri director said, ‘‘We have a regional centre in Malindi. We shall use it to sensitise residents. We will come to do a demo using the kilns. From August we will bring Kefri scientists from Karura and Gede."
Edited by R.Wamochie