Tag Archives: Dakatcha

Dakatcha Woodlands finally safe from Jatropha biofuel threat

It has been a long haul to try and stop the Jatropha biofuel threat of at first 50,000ha of land being cleared for plantations, then 10,000ha and now finally NEMA have officially stopped the project from going ahead and the Clarke’s Weavers and Sokoke Scops Owls and other endangered wildlife as well as the community members who would have had their lifestyles and societies dramatically changed and poverty increased can breathe a sigh of relief. NatureKenya led the fray and often were very much in the hot seat with threats and even attacks being made on them (and A Rocha Kenya was included in some of these too) by the supporters of the project. NatureKenya deserve a lot of thanks for their effort and there is an excellent write-up by Birdlife about this with further details.

In response to this we are keen to get some further work happening with the Dakatcha communities to help them improve their own incomes and ways of living in that special environment without impacting it too negatively. We are looking at building on the initial efforts we’ve had of introducing “Farming God’s Way” or “Conservation Agriculture” to some of the communities which, for those who have taken the training on board and followed it, has made a huge difference in the outputs from their farms. Below is a shot of Elizabeth in her shamba (farm) who’s husband Katana works for us in Dakatcha and who has really got excited about Farming God’s Way. They have carefully followed the simple method of a) no ploughing, b) use plenty of mulch and c) rotate your crops and as a result their maize (corn) in the last short rains was huge and dense as you can see in the photos.

 

Elizabeth in her shamba showing how high and dense the maize has got – and beans adjacent to the maize.

Their neighbour’s crop which was planted in the traditional way was a very different picture…:

…there is therefore a lot of hope if we can persuade people to take it up. Unfortunately we’ve heard rumours of a response from community members to assistance the Red Cross is offering people in the form of ‘food for work’ – which is a great programme to have and certainly helps those who are really destitute, but what they have not counted on is that people are apparently purposely not planting maize well so that it fails and so that when the Red Cross team pass by that place they see only poor crops and therefore offer bags of maizemeal in return for digging 2’x2’x2′ holes in which to plant 9 seeds… this method may work in kitchen gardens, but it certainly hasn’t worked in Dakatcha. So whilst the Red Cross programme is designed to help people, in the long run it actually hampers growth and keeps people in a state of poverty. this has meant that very few farmers have kept coming to our training sessions and fewer still are actually implementing it. However we are convinced it is the Way to go and will pursue raising funds to support the project in Dakatcha – donations greatly received. A single 2-day training workshop for 20 farmers costs only $12 per person so do join us in this effort to assist the farmers and communities in Dakatcha.

National Env Management Authority director suspended over Dakatcha biofuel issue

I have been sent this link to a newspaper report on the suspension of a NEMA Director for having given clearance for the Dakatcha jatropha biofuel project when the NEMA Board had not cleared it. There was clearly some dodgy stuff going on (exchange of $$??) that led to this.

This really is an answer to prayer – that the jatropha project in Dakatcha is becoming less and less likely to happen. Katana, our A Rocha Kenya staff member who is from and lives in Dakatcha where he is working on our Farming God’s Way programme and doing bird surveys and helping NatureKenya in their conservation work there, came last week and reported that the vibe on the ground is that the project won’t go ahead. If you pray… please keep praying for a complete stop to this madness and instead for opening doors for us and NatureKenya to implement some really sustainable and good programmes to help the community raise their standard of living whilst reducing their impact on the forest and habitat.

More from Katana later… he’s got some awesome stories.

 

Jatropha shown to fail to deliver almost everywhere worldwide

We have been plugging away for a couple of years now saying how planting huge (in fact any) areas of Jatropha curcas as a biofuel crop is a seriously bad idea for both the environment and the local communities and also the country’s economy. This is particularly in the light of proposed jatropha plantations in Dakatcha (by an Italian company) and Tana River Delta (a Canadian company) which will definitely fail to produce what they claim it will and instead increase poverty levels and environmental degradation.

I have just been sent the following from the Institute of Green Economy (IGREC) which confirms what we have been saying all along:

An article titled “The Extraordinary Collapse of Jatropha as a Global Biofuel” by Dr Promode Kant, Director, Institute of Green Economy, New Delhi and Dr Wu Shuirong, Associate Professor, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Beijing, has just been web-published in the ACS Journal of Environmental Science & Technology.
 
An ambitious Indian biofuel program initiated in 2003 by the Planning Commission of India, envisaging 30% mandatory blending of diesel by 2020, involved raising Jatropha curcus on wastelands across India. In mobilizing millions of lowest income farmers and landless poor with the promise of high returns the powerful Commission may have relied too heavily on the opinion of one of its top functionary who expected an internal rate of return ranging from 19 to 28% even though past experiences firmly indicated otherwise. National planners’ enthusiasm for the species rubbed off easily on Indian research organizations and Universities that depend upon the Planning Commission for funding and many of these institutions themselves became partners in raising and promoting Jatropha plantations. The extreme high profile of the program attracted worldwide attention and it was quickly adopted by China and a large number of Asian and African countries and, by 2008, it had already been planted over 900000 hectares globally and is expected to be planted over 12.8 million ha by 2015.
 
But it has failed to deliver almost everywhere causing distress to millions of small farmers worldwide. It appears to be an extreme case of a well intentioned top down climate mitigation approach undertaken without adequate research, and adopted in good faith by other countries, gone completely awry. As climate mitigation and adaptation activities intensify attracting large investments there is danger of such lapses becoming more frequent unless “due diligence” is institutionalized and appropriate protocols developed to avoid conflict of interest of research organizations. As an immediate step an international body like the FAO may have to intervene to stop further extension of Jatropha in new areas without adequate research inputs.

The article can be accessed from the journal website http://pubs.acs.org/journal/esthag

Our prayer is that the Kenyan government (and indeed governments around the world) will see the truth of what has been a huge error in pushing this crop as a biofuel and put a stop to any further jatropha developments…

Unproven biofuel projects given clearance in unique wetlands and forest areas

News has just come through that the Provincial Commissioner for Coast has apparently ordered that the jatropha plantation project for the Dakatcha Woodlands that has been fought for over two years (see other blogs on this) should “start on Monday” – since “the MP and the local people want it”…

In fact there is a significant proportion of the local population who do not want the project and there is plenty of evidence that the crop will fail to produce an economic output that will improve the livelihoods of the people and not damage the environment.

All this comes in the light of the Minister of the Environment, Michuki, who helicoptered into the site last year September for a public meeting and said that “before he would give any go ahead, if Kenya Jatropha Energy Ltd want to implement their project, they must furnish his office with scientific evidence that Jatropha is commercially viable in Dakatcha and that it is not harmful to people and the environment.”

He gave an example of a failed “development project” that took place in Tanzania where the proponent clear felled an indigenous forest to cultivate groundnuts. The project failed because by clearing all trees the proponent eliminated all pollinators.

As it is, the Italian company who is behind this project have yet to even address or speak out in support of the economical viability of the crop even when challenged on it. There has been no scientific / solid evidence given publicly about the actual potential of the crop and all the reports we hear are that it doesn’t work here. I have just spoken a few minutes ago with a farmer from Mpeketoni near Lamu who tells me that jatropha has been tried around his area… and totally failed.

He further asked the County Council of Malindi to develop a multiple land use plan and zone all forested areas for conservation. This was agreed that it should be a collaborative effort including the main stakeholders such as NatureKenya and local community.

As it happened, the zonation map has been produced without any input other than from the County Council and done basically behind closed doors and presenting effectively a fait accompli which only those supporting the jatropha project had any input to. The map was produced in a very ‘jua kali‘ (Swahili for rough and ready, unprofessional) way and pretty much sketched by hand – as you can see from an image of it below:

The larger cross-hatch patterned area is the original area that they wanted to put under jatropha but which thankfully has been turned down – at least for now. I’m sure they’ll push for it in due course. The area they are apparently being ‘given’ to do the project is the smaller bold bordered area. Unlike what the project proponents have been saying, the area takes in a significant portion of the Brachystegia woodland habitat – the habitat that the endemic Clarke’s Weaver, found worldwide only in Dakatcha and Arabuko-Sokoke Forest 20kms to the south.

So it is that we are still fighting local government who are insisting in the light of evidence against the cause that it should in fact go ahead. There has been no word to my knowledge from the Minister of Environment’s office that it should go ahead and it would therefore appear that local government officers are being compromised in order for the project to happen.
WHEN will we have anything happening here by government which really benefits the local people and environment?? Those who read this and who pray – please pray that we can stop this project completely and instead bring alternatives for the people which will make a real difference to them and in doing so protect this amazingly precious part of God’s creation.

Jatropha threating unique Dakatcha woodlands continues

The battle to save the unique Dakatcha Woodlands has been going on for a couple of years almost now. We thought for a while that it had maybe dissipated and gone away, but far from it. Whilst we are rejoicing that we have managed to stop 50,000ha (500 sq kms) of woodland being turned into a plantation of non-productive, desertifying crop, there is still the threat of 5,000ha of prime natural forest, woodland and coastal bush going under the same bleak crop of jatropha.

I have just heard from conservation colleagues with their ear more close to the ground the following:

“I have reliably learnt that the County council of Malindi has submitted a land use plan for Dakatcha which include a 5000ha land for jatropha pilot. This plan was supposed to have been developed in a participatory manner after an adhoc planning team was constituted in the meeting called by Green Africa Foundation in Malindi in Oct 2010. If I can remember well, the planning team constitute of the following

  1. District physical planner Mr Riungu
  2. KFS Zonal manager Mr Orinda
  3. Nature Kenya Site Officer for Dakatcha Mr Dominic Mumbu
  4. A representative of County Council of Malindi (CCM)
  5. A Community member.
Whatever the plan this team was to develop was to be tabled in a stakeholders forum for ownership and final editing. CCM was to facilitate the process as part of the requirement set by Mr Michuki (Minister of the Environment) when he visited Dakatcha in September 2010. This was to be accompanied by a technical report on viability of jatropha.

The district physical planner has been avoiding everyone and did a plan alone with the CCM which before tabling to stakeholders has been forwarded to NEMA for approval of the jatropha pilot. This is dishonesty and conmanship of the highest order by the planner and CCM and everyone must rise and reject this devious scheme in the strongest terms under the sun. NEMA is also reluctant to share the plan with anyone.

Ladies and gentlemen, brace yourselves for another round of battle for Dakatcha.

Below is a quotation from an email

‘However I do have some further feedback.  I was attending the Ministry Of Environment Multi-sector Forum meeting end of last week, with the PS in the chair.  The Dakatcha/Jatropha issue was raised.  The current Acting DG, NEMA (Geoffrey??, Macharia is on 2 months leave) reported that NEMA had received a land use plan from the County Council and it was indicating a location of 5,000ha for the project.  I requested that NEMA be transparent and share the land use plan with us, as I suspected it was a desk exercise, and would be seriously ‘wanting’.  The issue of local community poverty came up.  I responded that it was very unclear who were the local community in terms of who was speaking on whose behalf.  But I also emphasized that trying to improve local livelihoods was supported by everyone, but we remained totally unconvinced that Jatropha would achieve such improvement. 
 
My suspicion arising from NEMA’s brief is that this fight is far from over.  I think we need to now ask our European partners to investigate the Italian company and lobby within the EU to name and shame this company.
 
I also think that if NEMA grants a licence, this may end up needing legal redress as a breach of the new constitution, etc.
 
And so it continues… We urgently need to do what we can to put pressure on the Italian company in Europe to stop this madness. There really is NO evidence that Jatropha will grow economically here in East Africa and plenty to show that it really does badly. Even 100ha of prime natural habitat going under a crop that will simply allow the soil to dry up and erode whilst eradicating forever habitats holding unique and even endemic species… should not be allowed.

We have been doing surveys in the Dakatcha area over the past year and found a good population of the Endangered Sokoke Scops Owl up there – otherwise thought to be restricted to the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest in Kenya. This is really going to be a continued battle, but one which is worth every step of the way to fight.

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“Farming God’s Way” in threatened Dakatcha Woodlands

We’ve been somewhat quiet over Christmas and New Year – getting away and having a much-needed break, though many times this is when developers like to take action because they know that there are fewer people looking. This seems to have been what has happened in Dakatcha with the jatropha project – just before Christmas, new machinery was brought in and activity levels at the Italian jatropha project picked up. The worry is that the project will go ahead at a level which is still unacceptable for a) a crop which has overwhelming evidence that it will fail and only bring problems and greater poverty to the site and b) a site that is globally important for rare and endangered biodiversity.

NatureKenya have continued to do a great job at highlighting what is going on though there hasn’t been much news from them either of late… will have to do some ferreting to find out what’s going on.

However the great news is that the Bountiful Grains Trust based in South Africa but working throughout southern and eastern Africa have decided to continue working with us as A Rocha Kenya on the Farming God’s Way (FGW) work amongst farmers in the Dakatcha area. This is awesome and Pius Mutie has just come back from Dakatcha with our A Rocha Staff member Katana where they’ve done ten days of follow up training with the farmers and church members who have been involved already and anyone else who is keen to learn about it.

The beauty of FGW is that it not only works really well in hugely increasing productivity for farmers who practise it correctly, but it also gives excellent teaching on core life principles based on solid biblical teaching. Katana has been putting the FGW techniques he has learnt into practice and has reaped the benefits – as can be seen in the photos below of his shamba (farm) and the size of the maize / corn he managed to grow last year. For comparison, his neighbours crop is shown which shows how traditional farming techniques really do serious harm to communities still trying to live by them.

Katana in his FGW-farmed maize

Katana’s neighbour’s maize – taken the same time

What is the difference with this form of agriculture? The main principles taught by FGW are that you should do your farming with excellence, do it on time (apparently the main reason there is hunger in Africa – farmers plant late and so miss the full benefit of the rains and thus get under sized crops and sometimes none at all), do it with joy and without wasting anything. Following these and applying them with the core techniques of no ploughing, lots of mulching of dead vegetation on the crops and rotating your crops are the key ingredients to getting a bumper harvest from your fields.

We really hope to spread this news far and wide and get more and more farmers using it so as to not only help them get more from their fields, but also to stop erosion, retain moisture in the soils, reduce the area of land required for farming and thus saving some more indigenous habitats. We hope to introduce FGW with our ASSETS community project around Arabuko-Sokoke Forest and Mida Creek and even at the Sabaki River Mouth with the communities there – but that’s a wee way into the future from now.

The recent training has gone pretty well though the turn out wasn’t as high as we’d hoped but there was an enthusiastic reception from those who were there. Our vision is to spread it to as many people as possible and have many of the community being able to feed themselves as well as having food left over to sell and in doing so protecting the forest from further destruction.

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“Green” Africa Foundation meeting on Dakatcha jatropha promotes plantations despite evidence against

Yesterday in Malindi there was a relatively small meeting held (with only invited people, I understand) that was convened by the Green Africa Foundation (GAF) with the purpose of apparently “to bring together various interest groups who have been in a tug of war over the proposed setting aside 50,000 ha of land for jatropha cultivation in Dakatcha woodland” according to a report of the meeting from NatureKenya. Unfortunately I couldn’t be there as I’m away from Watamu currently, but the report on the meeting that we have received clearly seems to suggest that the Green Africa Foundation, represented by its Director, Dr John Kalua who claimed to have the blessing of the President among other authorities, is fully behind promoting jatropha in plantations and that the proposed project by Kenya Jatropha Energy Ltd is a good one and should go ahead. He did say that 10,000 ha was too much and the outcome of the meeting was to suggest that a ‘pilot project’ of 5,000 ha should be started – but after various further investigations / info had been provided.

It is the blatant promotion of a crop which has been shown to be extremely bad news for communities, food production and biodiversity which astounds me. Having read the report commissioned by the German Aid organisation GTZ on jatropha farming in Kenya where it states in no uncertain fashion in the summary:

“Therefore, we recommend that the government – through the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, KEFRI and others – reevaluate its current biofuel policy promoting Jatropha. We also urge all public and private sector actors to cease promoting the crop among smallholder farmers for any plantation other than as a fence. We believe doing otherwise would be extremely irresponsible and could exacerbate existing food security throughout the country.

…I can only start to think that either the unbiased fact-finding report by GTZ together with other reports on examples in East AFrica where jatropha has been shown to fail in plantations – even trials on the Kenyan coast in Kilifi just down the road from Malindi / Dakatcha (but in fact more moist than Dakatcha) where jatropha plants just didn’t grow – that either these are totally wrong and are trying to cheat communities and the country of something good, OR that an NGO which is able to get funds from biofuel investors to grow and promote jatropha – is looking to get something out of this project.

It is interesting to note that GAF have not been involved in this discussion about the project at all up till now – and only recently have come on the scene… in the company of Kenya Jatropha Energy Ltd and amazingly supporting the project. It raises a lot of questions about how come they’ve appeared right now and who brought them on board?

No idea.. but certainly makes one wonder.

The fact remains that there is a heck of a lot of evidence showing that jatropha is NOT the magic green fuel of Africa, that it will lead to increased overall poverty in local communities, that it will lead to further attrition and degradation of natural habitats even if it doesn’t clear them completely – by attracting more people to the plantations and factories, it leads to greater human population densities all of whom need fuel wood and like to eat (bush)meat…

Given the report by Peter Usher that I posted a couple of days ago re the corruption levels in our justice system, it presents a tall order and huge challenge for us to keep fighting to protect the Dakatcha Woodlands. 5,000 ha is a massive area – though it is just 10% of the original 50,000ha they were trying to get to start with. This will be 5,000 ha of denuded habitat – an area larger than the size of Nairobi National Park.

There is further evidence that IKEA Italy has been the final destination for the biofuel produced by Kenya Jatropha Energy Ltd, though they apparently claim that they don’t have any plans for this. If any readers know anyone in IKEA or want to write to them to get clarification of this and a promise that they really won’t buy the biofuel from Kenya Jatropha Energy Ltd / Dakatcha – please do.

Overall, however, we, as A Rocha Kenya, believe that there is Hope. The Dakatcha Woodlands really matter to the amazing God who created them – and he is a God who really cares for the world he made and that he also hurts hugely when he sees it being destroyed for human greed. We are hoping and planning to start working with churches in the Dakatcha area to teach people about the importance of caring for God’s creation – not because it will benefit them / us primarily, but because it belongs to Him and He has given it to us to use but to use wisely. We want to help people get a balanced worldview on the value of the environment around them and then to bring on top of that practical ways of surviving and in fact thriving from the natural world in a sustainable way. In this way there really is hope – and knowing that we can trust in a living God who has all things ultimately in his hands.

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This is the corrupt system we are fighting against to protect something of the world around us

I received this in an email just recently that was sent out to the AfricanRaptors mailing list in response to a discussion about whether conservation can alleviate poverty. It kind of sums up what we are up against in Kenya when we are seeking to protect a fragile and precious environment that a greed developer has got his eyes on. This is what I fear the case will be for Dakatacha and for Tana River Delta – and for Sabaki River Mouth…

Our hope is to pray and to pray again that somehow we can stop these things which are entirely in the interests of a rich few and not for the poor majority nor the silent creation.

“Dear Rob et al,

It is not necessarily the poor and disadvantaged that have no concern for nature. Here in Kenya, some of the most wealthy are destroying essential environmental resources to enrich themselves further through corruption of Government officials charged with environmental protection. For six years, at great personal financial and emotional cost, in the face of death threats and attacks by gun-toting thugs hired from their day-job as policemen, more than fifty court appearances to defend myself against bogus criminal charges in front of a corrupt judge (I still won!) I have fought to maintain a wetland against greedy property developers. I managed to get the land designated as an ecologically fragile  riparian reserve, a flood plain, a water resource  and a tributary of the Nairobi River. As I write, bulldozers are ripping up the wetland and canalizing the river. The status was secretly changed by the water resource management authority without any subsequent survey and after a visit to the Government body by the developer’s agent. The developer is also cutting a road through public land upstream of the plot he claims in order to dump waste. Such is the weakness and greed of the Kenya authorities the developer acts with impunity. This is only one of many examples of illegal and inappropriate development that is ruining Kenya.

I, on the other hand, have been summoned to the High Court to respond to the same charges successfully defended and dismissed in the criminal courts. It is said of the Kenya judiciary “Why hire a lawyer when you can buy a judge”!

I shall fight on with hope if not expectation of success.

I write only to suggest that theoretical conclusions crafted in institutions of higher learning and published in scientific journals, are not always consistent with reality.

If any of you feel concern, then the Natioal Environment Management Authority has the power to overturn this situation. NEMA has a new Director-General, Ayub Macharia (his two predecessors were dismissed but not prosecuted for corruption). Dr Macharia is considered to be honest and is looking into the matter but has stated that he believes nothing can be done. His email is  [email protected]

Regards

Peter Usher”

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Minister for the Environment, Hon Michuki, visits Dakatcha to assess jatropha project

On Monday 27th Sept, Hon Michuki, the Minister for Environment, visited Dakatcha in order to listen to what was going on and see for himself what the situation was and to give direction on the jatropha project that has caused so much alarm and outrage. In classic government fashion the news that he was coming was given late on the previous Friday and as such I didn’t get to hear about it until too late so missed the event.

NatureKenya, however, were on the ball and were able to mobilise staff to get to the meeting that Michuki helocoptered in to and make some presentations giving reasons for why the jatropha project should not go ahead.

In particular Serah, the Advocacy Officer for NK, was already in Malindi having been in Tana River Delta and was able to delay her return to Nairobi so as to attend.

This is what Serah reported:

On Monday Kenya’s Environment Minister the Hon. John Michuki visited the Dakatcha Woodland. The Minister was accompanied by the area Member of Parliament (MP) and Fisheries Minister Amason Kingi, NEMA Director General, Environment Ministry Permanent Secretary and other NEMA officers. The County Council of Malindi (CCM) and the provincial administration were also heavily represented. Nature Kenya was represented by Francis Kagema, Dominic  Mumbu, and me. We travelled with a KTN reporter  in our car, the same one who was attacked with
Kagema and KWS staff in June.


We arrived to a hostile reception. Some rowdy youth tried to rough us up and even threw soil on us. Members of the Dakatcha SSG stood on our side but there was no confrontation between the two groups.

When the minister arrived stakeholders were invited one after the other to make comments. The area councillor, clerk and chairman of the CCM and the area MP told the Minister that they were in support of the project that will bring development to the local people. They said that the project proponents have promised local people good roads, water boreholes, a dispensary and jobs. They also spoke ill of Nature Kenya to much ululation from their crowd. Nature Kenya was also given a chance to speak. I said we were not against development and have been calling for a multiple land use plan that will safeguard the interest of all groups. The Environment minster made his decision as follows:

  1. The minister said he did not come to approve or reject the project.
  2. He appreciated that there was still a lot of intact forest land in the area.
  3. He spoke against politicizing development issues.
  4. He asked the local leaders to identify 3 schools where his ministry will dig water boreholes for community use. This was in answer to the chairman of the CCM who said that if the Minister rejects the project
    his ministry should provide Dakatcha residents with water. He added that his ministry’s water is “free”.
  5. He advised local people not to wait for anyone to bring development to them but to use their God-given skills and talents to better their livelihoods.
  6. He gave an example of a failed “development project” that took place in Tanzania where the proponent clear felled an indigenous forest to cultivate groundnuts. The project failed because by clearing all trees the proponent eliminated all pollinators. 
  7. He asked the CCM to develop a multiple land use plan and zone all forested areas for conservation.
  8. Finally the minister said that if they want to implement their project, the Kenya Jatropha Energy Ltd (KJEL) must furnish his office with scientific evidence that Jatropha is commercially viable in Dakatcha and that it is not harmful to people and the environment.
By the time the Minister got to point 8 above all the ululation from the CCM and area MP crowd was gone. The minister declared that as long as he remains the environment minster he will make decisions based on science. He declared that he will not be swayed by the amount/volume of noise that some people are so wont to make. He
said he will not listen to NGO’s just because they advocate, but that he will consider the facts in their message.

Given that existing scientific findings by Kenyan and international research organizations show that Jatropha is not
commercially viable in dry lands KJEL have a difficult task of convincing the minister otherwise.

Clearly our message over the last many months got through to the Minister and NEMA. Obviously the NEMA Director General advised the Minister appropriately. We now await NEMA’s decision on the proposed 10,000 ha pilot project. The Minister’s decision today is a victory for conservation. About 4 media houses were represented so I hope it will be in the news tonight.

Thank you for your support

With renewed hope

Serah”

Kagema took some photos which he as shared with us:

Hon. Michuki speaking at the meeting on site


Serah of Nature Kenya giving her presentation


General scene of the meeting at Dakatcha

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Jatropha as agroforestry as opposed to monoculture??

Thanks to HM for your comments. Jatropha has indeed been shown to be a viable crop for farmers to grow, but really on when grown as a fence or hedge crop – set in amongst other plants and not, as you say, in a monoculture. This is effectively agroforestry.

However this will take much more time and effort for the investor / developer to bother with as they are interested in profit for themselves (which is reasonable as a business, I guess!) – but in this sort of situation, you are doing NO FAVOURS to the local community by clearing their environment and planting a crop which is 90% unlikely to succeed. The hedge system is something for the likes of us as conservation organisations committed to the long term benefit of the local communities together with protecting threatened habitats and species to take up and introduce – and to perhaps link with developers / investors who want to put in the refinery plant…but in a place where it really will not impact the environment.

Unfortunately this project has none of these sorts of genuine objectives for the community, proven by the fact that they have gone ahead with the clearing and project before the EIA was even out – and are continuing to work on it as I tap this. Not only that but by not wanting journalists and conservationists to see the project and in fact using violence to chase them off – surely tells a loud story.