Kenya Water Towers Agency (KWTA) has planted bamboo on 50-acre farm at Kaptagat forest block in Elgeyo Hills Water Tower. The demonstration site was launched in 2019 to enable farmers across the region to learn how to venture into bamboo farming. The Agency contracted Green Edge Limited to fence off the demonstration site and Tiriki Tropical Farm Limited to establish the bamboo plantation.
The collaboration framework signed in December 2020 between Mr Julius Kamau (Kenya Forest Service) and Prof. Julius Tanui (Kenya Water Towers Agency) has enabled KWTA to adopt 125 acres in the forest block. The framework signing between the two agencies was midwifed by the PS for Environment and Forestry Dr Chris Kiptoo. Following the agreement, KWTA has completed fencing the initial 50 acres while the 75-acre section is currently being fenced.
Prof Julius Tanui, the acting Director General commissioned the fence for the 75 acres on Thursday 14th January. He also launched three million seedlings nursery resting on 3 acres at the same site.
“The demonstration site will enable farmers to learn best practices on bamboo farming and commercialization. Once we get sufficient bamboo stalks, we have partners that are ready to establish bamboo factory here” Prof. Tanui addressing the locals and staff of various agencies.
Some of the bamboo species to be planted at the site include Dendrocalamus yunannensis, Dendrocalamus asper, Yushania alpina, Dendrocalamus giganteus, Bambusa tulda, Bambusa vulgaris, Dendrocalamus strictus and Bambusa bambos. Farmers will have the option of choosing the kind of bamboo suitable for their areas.
This project is line with the recent cabinet approval of classification and designation of Bamboo as a cash crop under the Crop Act (No. 16 of 2013). The Cabinet said this is in order to foster the commercialization of Bamboo plants, and as part of the Administration’s Greening Campaign, which seeks to achieve a minimum ten-percent (10%) tree cover by the end of the year 2022 in addition to creating employment through agroforestry.
Kaptagat forest falls under the larger Elgeyo Hills water catchment area that the CS for Environment and Forest Keriako Tobiko has committed to gazette as a water tower. One of the major rivers emanating from this water tower is river Sosiani that serves the entire Eldoret town.