Kefri ramps up seed production to meet increasing demand

Today, Kefri collects seeds from over 400 tree species in the country.

In Summary

• Njuguna said Kefri has increased its seed production capacity.

• The acting CEO said Kefri started in 1985 when it produced a few tonnes to meet the needs of the forest department.

Kefri acting CEO Dr Jane Njuguna plants a tree.
Kefri acting CEO Dr Jane Njuguna plants a tree.

The Kenya Forestry Research Institute has moved to enhance tree seed production following increased demand.

Kefri acting CEO Jane Njuguna said they are up to the task in providing quality seeds to meet the government’s bid to increase tree cover.

The state intends to grow 15 billion trees to attain 30 per cent tree cover by 2032, up from the current 12.13 per cent.

The programme requires Sh600 billion, meaning the budget for each year will be Sh60 billion.

Njuguna said the country will have to grow at least 20 billion trees, as not all of them will survive.

“Growing means you have to plant beyond the 15 billion trees to allow for the death of some of them. We have to plant about 20 billion or so for 15 billion to survive,” she said.

Kefri started in 1985, when it produced 1.5 tonnes of seeds per year to meet the needs of the forest department.

“We were not doing a lot but a little bit for research and for reforestation programmes that were coming in,” Njuguna said.

“We kept on increasing our targets, and by around 1989, we were collecting about eight tonnes per year. The targets have been increasing based on the needs of the expansion of forestry and agroforestry programmes.”

She said agroforestry, farm forestry and performance contracts pushed the demand for quality seeds up.

She said Kefri’s capacity has since been increased to 100 tonnes.

Today, Kefri collects seeds from more than 400 tree species in the country.

Njuguna said handling, processing and distribution of seeds cannot be done in one centre.

“We wrote a proposal to the government and said we have 18 centres out there, but they do not have seed units. We needed to build seed units so that the seeds that are collected can be processed and distributed from those centres instead of bringing all these seeds all the time to Muguga,” she said.

Njuguna said the state gave them the green light to have seed units in 18 centres.

“Kefri is ready and is supplying seeds as required. In fact, the communities and institutions are not coming for seeds as they would have wanted.”

Njuguna said Kefri has hired 80 new employees to champion forestry research and innovation at the institute.

They have all been assigned to 18 subcentres nationwide, and they will play a pivotal role in realising the 15 billion tree initiative.

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