• Livestock PS Harry Kimutai said that while the government had allowed the shamba system, some people had encroached in gazetted areas and occupied them.
• He cited Cheptais and Kibrowa as areas where people had illegally acquired land.
Some farmers allowed to grow crops in Mt Elgon Forest under the shamba system are to blame for its depletion.
Livestock PS Harry Kimutai said those engaging in the shamba system should do it responsibly and ensure that young trees are not destroyed.
“While the government decided to partner with communities living around the forests for the shamba system, we regret that some people are destroying the young trees while intercropping,” Kimutai said.
The government is replanting trees in forests that have been destroyed by the introduction of the shamba system.
Under the system, farmers tend to tree saplings on state-protected forest land and in return intercrop perennial food crops until canopy closure.
The PS said that some people who graze their animals in reafforested areas had destroyed forest swathes.
Kimutai spoke when he led a tree-planting activity in Mt Elgon Forest in Kaberwa area. He was accompanied by Higher Education PS Simeon Nabukwesi.
“We direct the Kenya Forest Service officials and the county commissioners in regions with forests to ensure that grazing of animals is not done in areas with young trees,” Kimutai said.
The two principal secretaries led forestry, other state officials and the public to plant more than 6,000 tree seedlings.
Kimutai said that while the government had allowed the shamba system, some people had encroached in gazetted areas and occupied them.
He cited Cheptais and Kibrowa as areas where people had illegally acquired land.
“Let it be clear that the shamba system does not involve construction of structures in gazetted forest areas and the government will not hesitate to act on such cases,” Kimutai said.
The PS said when properly practised, the shamba system can improve the livelihoods of the farmers allowed to grow crops on forest land.
He, however, said that the farmers are expected to move off the land once the forest has matured.
“The system is expected to allow optimum production of food crops along with forestry species from the same land and thus meets most of the social and economic needs of the shamba farmer and not the destruction of forest cover as being seen,” he said.
(edited by o. owino)