• The farmers in a statement said they had planted the water consuming trees for commercial purposes
• They now want environment-friendly trees that will generate income for them just like the blue gums they had relied on all along for income.
Eucalyptus tree farmers in Kisii have asked for alternatives before the county government moves to remove their trees from the river banks.
The farmers in a statement said they had planted the water consuming trees for commercial purposes, adding that they will suffer significant losses if they will not get an alternative.
They now want environment-friendly trees that will generate income for them just like the blue gums they had relied on all along for income.
"We are not opposing the move to have these plants removed from the river banks because they are a threat to our rivers, but we need to be told what we can plant to cushion us from losses," John Onchiaku from Keumbu said.
Onchiaku said once they are given alternatives, they can remove the trees by themselves.
Governor James Ongwae, a fortnight ago said the move to remove the eucalyptus trees from river banks and other water towers will go ahead as planned.
Most rivers and springs across the county have already dried up due to the tress, Ongwae said.
"We want our people to be very understanding as we enter the second phase. It is all about our future and the future of our children's children that we want to safeguard, nothing else," the county boss said.
He said that the future generations may not have water to drink if the trees remain.
Thre is already water scarcity in the county and many of the boreholes the county had sunk have dried up due to the blue gums.
Ongwae said the county assembly is due to pass a supplementary budget to support the exercise.
But speaking in Keumbu in Nyaribari Chache Saturday, the trees farmers said they will only allow their trees to be cut if the county gives them replacements.
"Some of us sell these trees to get school fees for our children. So if we just cut them for the sake of the governor's executive order ,we will suffer," Onchiaku said in the statement.
Governor Ongwae, however, told the Star that the residents will get indigenous trees to plant as an incentive to cut down the blue gums.
He, however, said it may be impracticable to reach all of them with enough seedlings and asked those who can afford to acquire them from Kenya Forestry offices.
He also advised for the planting of bamboos instead of the blue gums.
Edited by EKibii