Shamba system bad for the environment

In Summary

• The Jubilee government suspended the shamba system in 2018 because it was being abused

• The shamba system allows farmers to cultivate inside forests until newly planted trees have grown up on degraded land

Deputy president Rigathi Gachagua
Deputy president Rigathi Gachagua
Image: Twitter

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has confirmed that government intends to reinstate the shamba system. Bad idea.

The shamba system was first introduced by the British. It allows farmers to cultivate inside degraded forests until newly planted trees grow up. Then the farmers should move out and allow the forest to continue regenerating.

The problem is that shamba system farmers do not always follow the rules. Frequently they cut down more forest to enlarge their fields. They also fail to plant new trees, or remove the ones that have already been planted. 

That's why the Kenya Forest Service and government suspended the shamba system in 2018. It sounds fine in theory but, in practice, it is terrible. 

Gachagua seems to implicitly accept the loss of Kenyan forests when he says that forests don't produce food. But he forgets that forests are vital for protecting the water table and maintaining biodiversity. Without forests, agricultural yields will decline all across Kenya.

Gachagua said the next Environment CS will bring back the shamba system. Anyone invited to become the next Environment CS should refuse, if that is the condition, because it will be an environmental disaster.

Quote of the day: "All human knowledge takes the form of interpretation."

Walter Benjamin
The German philosopher died on September 27, 1940

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