The Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) in collaboration with the County Government of Elgeyo Marakwet has taken a significant step towards boosting economic prosperity and increasing forest cover in the region by distributing 50,000 mango seedlings in Tot, Endo ward in Marakwet East Sub County.

mango seedlings

This initiative is part of a larger effort to transform the Kerio Valley from what was once known as the “valley of death” to a land of opportunities.

During the distribution exercise, State Department for Arid and Semi-Arid Lands and Regional Development Principal Secretary Dr Salim Dokota, highlighted that this initiative aligns with the directive of the President to enhance forest cover across the nation.

The PS said that the ministry has committed to planting 60 million trees through regional development authorities over the next ten years.

He noted that the ministry intends to surpass its annual target of one million trees in the Kerio Valley region, aiming to plant two million trees per year.

“This exercise is continuous and will not end after a single distribution,” Dokota said, emphasizing the long-term commitment to transforming the region.

He further underscored the transformative potential of the Kerio Valley, which has historically been known as the “Valley of Death”, saying that with this initiative, the region is transitioning into the “Valley of Opportunities.”

He noted that the essence of the establishment of a mango factory in the region lay in its capacity to act as an economic stimulus.

“By providing the local population with a sustainable source of income through fruit farming, the initiative aims to deter engagement in illicit activities such as armed conflicts. Moreover, this venture is set to contribute significantly to addressing climate change issues in the region,” Dakota said.

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Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Wisley Rotich shared his administration’s efforts to promote cash crop farming and development throughout the county. With agriculture constituting 99 per cent of the country’s economy, the Governor aims to uplift 190,000 individuals from poverty within the next decade.

Governor Rotich said to achieve this, he intends to foster partnerships with KVDA and the Ministry of Regional Development to promote greening across the entire valley. “Greening means people will get money, and at the same time, the environment is conserved,” he said.

To ensure water availability during dry seasons, the Governor called for the establishment of water harvesting programs through the Ministry of ASALs and Regional Development.

He also encouraged farmers to engage in both long-term mango farming and short-term cash crops like cotton, sorghum, and green grams to meet immediate financial needs.

KVDA Director Sammy Naporos shared insights into the thriving fruit farming industry in the region, highlighting that 750,000 mango tree seedlings were distributed to Samburu, Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo, and Laikipia counties in the previous financial year.

Naporos revealed that KVDA is the largest producer of certified seedlings, particularly for mango, citrus, and pawpaw. Expanding their efforts, they plan to produce three million seedlings in the current financial year, operating six nurseries to achieve this target.

The 50,000 mango seedlings being distributed are projected to generate a net income of Sh 450 million over the next four to five years, showcasing the immense potential for economic transformation in the region.

Naporos emphasized the role of agroforestry in combating climate change, with mango and citrus trees thriving in the region. By planting mango trees and citrus trees that thrive in the area, KVDA is committed to combating climate change through agroforestry.

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He revealed that a single mango tree could yield up to Sh 20,000 annually, and farmers with 50 trees could cover essential expenses such as school fees.

Naporos said the distribution aims to cover 650,000 acres of land, significantly changing the economic landscape of the Kerio Valley region. Naporos encouraged farmers to work closely with agricultural officers from the county government to nurture the seedlings for three and a half years before reaping the fruits of their labor.

“As part of the ongoing effort to revamp the region, KVDA has been allocated an additional Kh 325 million to improve irrigation schemes,” Naporos said.

He noted that KVDA plans to focus on Kamsiwet, Arror, Chepkum, Lomut, and Weiwei irrigation schemes, which were previously abandoned due to conflicts. With relative peace now prevailing in the region, these schemes will be reactivated to promote crop farming.

The Director said the government’s commitment to support farmers in the Kerio Valley region demonstrates a solid determination to improve economic prospects and enhance environmental sustainability.

“With the successful implementation of the mango seedling distribution and the revival of irrigation schemes, the Kerio Valley is poised for a prosperous and green future,” He said.

By Rennish Okong’o

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