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Kitui Water and Sanitary Company (KITWASCO) has supplied KEFRI Tiva tree nursery with piped-water from the main distribution lines at Kwa Vonza market.
Dr. Joshua Cheboiwo while commissioning the Project on 21st September, 2020 at Tiva nursery stated that water scarcity in the area had constrained production of tree seedlings and dryland forestry research at the trial site which is of global significance.
|KEFRI Director Dr. Cheboiwo and KITWASCO Technical Manager Mr. Stephen Mutua commissioning the piped water at Tiva tree nursery.|
“KEFRI with support from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has conducted an intensive dryland forestry research in Tiva trial site where 10 species from 69 collections (sourced from within the countries and outside - Australia, India, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, South Africa) had been screened and shown potential of adapting to the region. There is nowhere else in Africa such kind of research has ever been conducted,” said Dr. Cheboiwo.
Dr. Cheboiwo further stated that the Tiva pilot station through its Melia volkensii trials and other experiments scattered in the expansive 1,150 ha is as a vital research station recognized locally and internationally for the demonstration of forestry dryland forestry technologies.
The Director recognized the scientists for their effort in Melia research specifically towards: successful selection of candidate plus trees (CPTs); establishment of improved Melia seed orchards; and pioneering Melia progeny trials.
“KEFRI management in the fiscal year 2020-21, has committed KSh.18 million to support comprehensive research implementation and output including construction of green house and tree seed processing unit. This is the roadmap to elevating the station to a centre of excellence in dry land forestry,” revealed Dr. Cheboiwo.
He added that the piped water would boost capacity of the centre in research and development that involves various dryland species including; Melia volkensii, Acacia, Terminalia brownii, Azandrichta indica, Dalbergia melanoxylon, Zizyphus mauritania, Tamarinds and Osyris lanceolata among other economically viable trees with potential for increasing the Kenya’s national tree and forest cover to the desired 10%. “KEFRI is importing improved planting material for Tamarindus indica and Osyris lanceolata from India to facilitate establishment of plantations in the country,” said the Director.
The Director urged all the scientists in the region to publish their research findings and other relevant information to guide future dryland forestry research.
The KITWASCO Technical Manager, Eng Stephen Mutua stated that, “The 4.5 km pipe will henceforth supply reliable and sufficient treated water to the tree nursery and the surrounding communities”. He also commended KEFRI for leading community oriented research in the area terming it a challenge to other institutions in the region.
The Eco-region Research Programme Director Dr. Albert Luvanda said his ambition is to reform the Tiva nursery into a semi-autonomous centre. Dr Luvanda also reported that despite the water challenge, during the last financial year the nursery produced almost 50,000 seedlings of assorted species.
Dr Luvanda highlighted that water had remained a big challenge at the Tiva nursery after the shallow well dried reducing capacity for seedling production drastically. However, with a steady supply of water Dr. Luvanda is optimistic of reviving the tree nursery and raising production of Melia volkensii seedlings to 100,000 per year as well as securing the woodland.
Preserving the woodland Dr. Cheboiwo urged the regional managers to cultivate a cordial relationship with leaders and adjacent communities by creating awareness on the importance of protecting the woodland.
In a rejoinder Dr. Luvanda revealed that his office in liaison with Survey of Kenya in Kitui is in the process of re-establishing the original woodland boundaries to avert encroachment and poaching of forest products, which has remained the biggest test for the forester-in-charge.
The Director KEFRI further reported that an assistant forester and a tree breeder will be posted to support research work at Tiva station.
During the same forum, Dr. Luvanda assured all stakeholders that the regional centre facilities are safe and secure, contrary to the negative media publicity that the centre had some positive COVID-19 cases.
"The facility has been inspected by the County Public Health Officers and declared safe for both staff and external customers. The centre has put in place measures to fumigate the facility regularly and observe other government protocols regarding control of the virus spread," Dr. Luvanda confirmed.