The Chief Administrative Secretary for Environment and Forestry, Hon. Mohammed Elmi launched a fifty-acre bamboo demonstration site at Kaptagat at the end of July 2019. This is a project sponsored by Kenya Water Towers Agency and jointly implemented by Kenya Forest Service, County Government of Elgeiyo-Marakwet and Kenya Forestry Research Institute. During the launch, five acres of bamboo seedlings were planted paving way for an additional forty-five acres by the end of the year. In total, the Agency aims at planting 250 acres of bamboo at the site. “The Agency particularly chose Kaptagat area for the bamboo commercialization programme because of the huge availability of land that was previously covered by bamboo as the name ‘Kaptagat’ suggests in Kalenjin. The proramme will culminate in an out-growers scheme and bamboo processing factory” said Prof Julius Tanui, acting Director General.
KWTA is championing for the adoption of bamboo as a commercial and conservation grass. This is aimed at replacing eucalyptus that has been a conservation menace countrywide. The PS for Environment and Forestry Dr Ibrahim Mohamed urged the residents of Elgeyo-Marakwet, Nandi and Uasin Gishu counties to adopt the initiative of replacing commercial trees with bamboo grass.
Speaking on behalf of the KWTA Chairman, Ms. Esther Wang’ombe termed bamboo as a wonder plant and one of the most important nature’s substitutes for the endangered rainforest hardwoods. She said bamboo is a quick-growing, versatile, non-timber forest product whose rate of biomass generation is unsurpassed by other plants. Its strength of the culms, straightness, smoothness, lightness combined with hardness, greater hollowness and versatility outmatches most tree species. The regularity with which they can be split into different sizes, various lengths and thickness of their joints make them suitable for numerous end products. Bamboo is known to be a natural and excellent raw material for manufacturing strong and sturdy furniture, handicrafts, and novelty items.
The Bamboo Investment and Commercialization Project in Water Towers intends to engage the communities within these ecosystems to participate in the sustainable management of these resources. The main objective of the project is to reduce pressure on Water Towers resources by providing an alternative source of livelihood.
The Project was well received by the North Rift Economic Block (NOREB) comprising eight counties. The interim Chairman HE Jackson Mandago lauded KWTA for choosing Kaptagat as the National Bamboo Demo site because Elgeiyo Hills Water Towers serves the entire NOREB member counties and Lake Region. “Elgeiyo Hills Water Tower is one of the most unique water towers in Kenya because its water drains to two basins: Lake Victoria and Lake Turkana,” added Prof. Tanui. During the North Rift region visits, the CAS also launched a similar 50-acre project at Kibirong Wetland in Nandi County. Kibirong Wetland covers an area of five hundred acres within Kaptumo and Koyo wards in Aldai Sub-County.