Makueni County

Trees for Farmers (T4F) has started to work in Kibwezi East and Kibwezi West sub-Counties of Makueni County in Kenya.

These sub-Counties are in a semi-arid zone with Mean Annual Rainfall of about 550 mm. Altitude is around 800 m asl, with relatively flat topography, some gentle slopes and low rates of erosion. Soils are of sandy clay loam texture of medium pH, poor in organic matter and low in fertility.

Population of these sub-Counties is approximately 250,000 which is approximately 50,000 households. Farm size varies between 0.5 and 2 ha. The economy is based on mixed subsistence farming (maize, sorghum, cowpeas, pigeon peas, green grams) with livestock rearing (beef cattle, goats, sheep, chicken). Poverty level is high, at 65%.

To date, T4F has succeeded in identifying and training 4 CTAs who have planted 20,000 tree seedlings with 200 farmers. Tree species is Melia volkensii. which is an East African indigenous mahogany species, that has some unique properties:

  • It can profitably be grown in dry areas (Main Annual Rainfall as low as 400mm)
  • It produces true mahogany timber, like from rainforests
  • It grows fast (rotation 12-18 years)
  • It is resistant to termites
  • It is compatible with agroforestry practices
  • It is well known and highly valued by farmers in Makueni County.

CTAs are also being trained to advise farmers on how to improve the husbandry of their indigenous chickens, and how to grow well-adapted varieties of sorghum, which are tolerant to drought and resistant to bird attack, which can be fed to their chickens.

Assistance is required to scale up this approach to benefit many more farmers in Makueni County.

T4F is planning to plant 4 million trees together with 20 CTAs and 31,000 small-holder farmers over a period of 15 years.  Each small-holder farmer will plant an average of 130 trees.