NEWS BRIEFS: Scientists clone hard wood tree

Friday September 22 2017

The chairman South coast forest owners

The chairman South coast forest owners association Mr.Joseph Kibugi on his tree farm in South coast. PHOTO|FILE 

By LEOPOLD OBI
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Farmers set for first census
The country will carry out a farmers census in 2019, with will be included in that year’s national census.
The count is meant to help in better planning by the government to boost food insecurity.
The census will capture the amount of land under farming, scale of farming enterprises and number of livestock among other details in preparation for a thorough and more detailed study in 2010.
Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Willy Bett, while making the announcement this week said despite agriculture being the backbone of the economy, the country has never conducted a census to know the exact impact of agriculture on the economy.
“We plan to undertake the first census of agriculture in 2019 since independence. This shall be integrated with the scheduled population and housing census,” said the CS.
Zachary Mwangi, the Director-General, Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, noted the quality and quantity of agriculture statistics in Kenya has been wanting for a long time, adding the census would boost data on farmers.
Pauline Kairu

Fertiliser firm honoured
Fertiliser company Yara has been ranked top among firms positively changing the world. Fortune Magazine ranked Yara 10 out of 50 participating companies worldwide.
The firm’s innovative policies that positively influence farmers worldwide and their social and environmental impacts were cited for the ranking.
“For years, we have worked systematically to enhance both food security and limit emissions. We have also worked in supporting farmers in Africa to gain access to markets for their produce,” said CEO Svein Tore Holsether as he appreciated the honour of the recognition.
Yara has also been credited with running a green revolution in Tanzania through the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT), a public-private partnership dedicated to reclaiming and enhancing a 300,000 square-kilometer stretch of arable but underproductive land whose efforts are intended to boost the incomes of smallholder farmers whose livelihoods depend on it.
The company has also extended its efforts to offering agricultural trainings which have seen smallholder farmers’ yields increase hence better incomes and livelihoods.
The achievements that Fortune magazine looked out for in their contestants included reckonable contribution to social impact, measure of business results and degree of innovation relative to the industry, which the fertiliser firm fulfilled.

Brian Okinda


Scientists clone hard wood tree
Forestry researchers have advanced propagation of a climate resilient indigenous hardwood tree currently under threat of extinction.
The scientists from the University of Nairobi, Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI), University of Ghent (Belgium) and Better Globe Forestry, have joined forces to study Melia, a tree of the neem family and roll out its propagation in semi-arid areas. In Kenya, the tree grows naturally in Mbeere, Tharaka, Kitui, Mutomo, Mwingi, Makueni and Taita Taveta.
Prof Stefaan Werbrouck of Gent Univeristy said they started the research on the tree in 2007 and that they are using various technologies such as tissue culture and cloning to boost the production of the tree.
“Propagtion through cloning is very helpful. It is only through cloning that you can have thousands of straight growing trees,” explained Prof Werbrouck.
Already Better Globe Forestry and farmers in Eastern Kenya are having acres of plots under the melia tree.
Dr. Titus Magomere, a plant breeder and biotechnology expert at the University of Nairobi says the indigenous tree can to grow in semi-arid lands while producing high quality mahogany timber within between 8-15 years.
Other hardwood trees take between 20-25 years to mature.

Leopold Obi