Monday, October 29, 2012

Women play a big role in climate change mitigation

By Bett Kipsang'
It is no doubt; women play a critical role in conserving the environment. Women on the other hand are more likely to suffer from environmental degradation than men. 

Jane Wangari Watering the Seedlings. (Photo by Bett Kipsang')
Jane Wangari Muchiri, a grandmother from Wangwachi location in Laikipia west is putting up an impressive campaign to demonstrate the profitability of establishing tree nurseries. 

Jane acquired her skills of establishing commercial tree nurseries when she attended a seminar four decades ago.  In 1969, Jane and other farmers went to a seminar at Njabini Farmer Training Centre where they were trained on how to establish and manage tree nurseries and other farming methods. ‘‘After the training, I realized that it was cheaper to establish a tree nursery than to buy tree seedlings’’ Said Jane as she produced a certificate of participation which she had studiously kept for the last 43 years.

 She has also attended other seminars on leadership, group's by laws, leader’s roles and participated in the National Agriculture Livestock extension Program (NALEP), as a member of the focal area development committee. Her rich background in capacity building through training workshops and seminars have contributed to improved farm practices in her ten acre piece of land. She has fruits like oranges, mangoes, Bananas.

However, the demanding task coupled with her advanced age is now overwhelming for her and that is why she resorted to the less demanding duties like setting up a tree nursery. 

Jane's Nursery serves as training ground for the community
She has dug a shallow borehole in the compound to provide water for domestic needs and to water her 24,500 tree seedlings in the nursery located within the homestead.

Jane has mastered the skills of collecting tree seeds and carefully sowing them in nursery beds.  ‘‘Due to group challenges, I chose to work alone, nurseries are demanding and delicate and any slight negligence can lead to heavy losses as young trees can easily dry up’’ said Jane.  

Her nursery has an assortment of several kinds of trees, all are doing well. Jane observed that, in the recent past it was hard to market tree seedlings, but with the coming in of environmental programs like ALIN, Community Forest Association (CFA) and SCODE, Jane has had a sigh of relief.  ‘‘CFA is buying seedlings for planting to re-establish the Lariak forest and first priority is given to members who has nursaries’’ Said Jane. 

Being a member of the CFA has given her an upper hand in marketing her seedlings. ‘‘The organization has booked seven thousand seedlings in my nursery and I expect to receive a cheque soon’’.  Jane said with a broad smile.

She is also a member of TIST, an organization which keeps records of trees planted and compensates farmers for the carbon credits earned from trees over one year old. Jane observed that nurseries are now very profitable and have a big potential in the area.  She told the Ng’arua Maarifa Centre that one million tree seedlings are needed for planting in Lariak forest but the forest officers have not had enough from local nurseries in six locations. 

‘‘Am now targeting to attain 50,000 tree seedlings in my nursery because am aware that many organizations are now out to support establishment of tree nurseries and there is ready market due to climate change awarenes’’ she said.

Jane Wangare has earned close to 40,000 Kenya shilling from the sale of tree seedling, some of the money were ploughed back to expand the nursery.  She is now expecting the highest returns from the current stock.
Jane Wangari not only sell all her seedlings but has also planted 110 trees and is planning to increase the area under trees to four out of her ten acre piece of land. ‘‘A big portion of my farm in now lying idle or untended, due to my age, but am finding the small plot under tree nurseries more profitable and easy to manage’’ Said Jane.
This kind of work is however not a walk in the park for many women Like Jane. There are many challenges to contend with that can lead to setbacks due to heavy losses and difficulties at work.
There is need for sufficient starting capital to afford seeds, tools and pay casual labor to supplement her efforts. Tools like wheelbarrow and a stable source of water are key to making the work forthcoming.
The prices of tree seedling are relatively low; currently a seedling goes for ten shillings an improvement from five shillings in 1995. 
Jane is appealing for support to enable her buy a water pump, so that she can easily move water from the borehole to the nursery.

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