Kenya’s Deputy President Gachagua says that the government will reintroduce farming in forest areas a system that has been banned and reintroduced over the years in Kenya known as the ‘shamba system’ that allowed locals living near forests to cultivate and grow crops in side the forests while at the same time planting trees.
He said it was unattainable to deny people the opportunity to farm in forests then import maize for local consumption and said the government would lift the moratorium imposed by the previous administration of President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The ‘shamba system’ was banned in 2003 following stiff opposition by the then Assistant Minister Wangari Maathai the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
It was later reintroduced in 2007 through field trials by the then Environmental Minister, Mr. David Mwiraria. The move elicited angry reactions from conservationists who accused the Government of backing down on a promise to protect forests.
In 2018 The National Environmental Complaints Committee (NECC) asked that the ‘shamba system’ be banned saying that under the system cases of charcoal burning and logging in the country’s forest had increased sharply.
The deputy president has assured that the government will put in place proper measures to ensure that the ‘shamba system’ is reintroduced in a sustainable way.
“We have to find a way of striking a balance between environmental conservation and the socio-economic needs of our people,” he said.
The deputy president’s remarks have been welcomed by some members of the community who have been struggling to make a living.
“This is good news for us because we have been struggling to make a living. I hope the government will implement this properly so that we can benefit from it,” said one local farmer.
However, there are also concerns that the reintroduction of the ‘shamba system’ could lead to deforestation if it is not properly managed.
“If the government is not careful, this could lead to more deforestation. We need to make sure that there are strict regulations in place to prevent this from happening,” said an environmentalist.
Other Kenyan’s took to twitter to express their views on the matter: