On the 22nd of February of 2019, Better Globe Forestry (BGF) was proud to host a delegation of VIPs to its plantation in Kiambere, headed by the Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Environment & Forestry, Hon. Keriako Tobiko.

Also present were Dr. Jane Njuguna, Ag Director of the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) and other leaders and researchers of KEFRI, personalities from Kenya Forest Service (Dr. Clement Ng’oriareng, head of the Dryland Department, Alfred Gichu, coordinator of REDD+ readiness activities and the Ecosystem Conservators of Kitui and Embu Counties), Samuel Kareithi (Programme Director Gatsby Africa) and the Assistant County Commissioner for Kitui County.

The intention of the visit was to show to the CS that commercial dryland afforestation in Kenya is possible, existing, and subject to wider application, using the plantation as proof. This carried a crucial message, as the Kenyan Government wants to achieve a 10% tree cover by 2022, up from the present 7.2%, and the only wide available spaces are in drylands, traditionally not considered suitable for tree planting.

In his opening words, the MD of BGF explained the company’s vision of poverty alleviation, underpinned by sustainable commercial tree planting, with the later promise of establishment of a processing industry. He highlighted the cooperation with stakeholders such as KEFRI, to give scientific backing to a pioneering effort.

The CS had interactions with the different players attending the visit and also addressed the press, of which numerous representatives were invited. He made distinction between tree planting for conservation and commercial purposes, and was acutely aware that growers needed a market stimulus to engage in wide-scale planting of trees, which requires serious commitment in the difficult conditions prevailing in dry areas. From the government side, he ensured its goodwill, and recommended that the plantation be used as a demonstration tool for the different county governments situated in drylands, to come and see for themselves, all in the framework of achieving the government’s 10% tree cover goal.

This was a great day for dryland afforestation, which truly has its rightful place under the sun.

This article is republished with permission from the Miti Magazine, issue no #42