• The shamba system is a way to afforest land where exotic trees have been cut for timber.
• It entails the community around a gazetted forest area to cultivate crops as they nurture tree seedlings to mature age for a bout three years before they move out.
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua's declaration that the government will soon allow farming in forested areas has continued to draw mixed reactions from a section of Kenyans.
Whereas proponents of the idea have welcomed the move, various opinion leaders have poured cold water on the proposal terming it ill-advised.
Among them is senior counsel Ahmednasir Abdullahi who has equated the shamba system to land gabbing.
"Farming in gazetted forests is land grab, full stop," the lawyer said.
The shamba system is a way to afforest land where exotic trees have been cut for timber.
It entails the community around a gazetted forest area to cultivate crops as they nurture tree seedlings to mature age for about three years before they move out.
Proponents of the system argue that large chunks of gazetted forest land has no tress and should indeed be cultivated.
While making the announcement Saturday at a funeral service in Baringo, Gachagua said the reintroduction of the shamba system will increase food production in the country.
"And the good thing about trees is that once it grows big, no one will tell you to vacate the forest," Gachagua observed.
"So we will release a plan where you cultivate in forests without destroying trees."
The DP said the directive will be effected as soon as a new Environment CS is appointed.
Renowned environmentalist the late Wangari Maathai was against the shamba system.
She said the system had been abused as farmers were allowed to turn large sections of indigenous forests into farmlands leading to destruction of local biodiversity and greatly reduced the capacity of the forests to be effective water reservoirs.