Farmers in Nandi County are set to diversify into bamboo growing.
The county, in collaboration with the Kenya Water Towers Agency (KWTA), is piloting bamboo cultivation for commercial and environmental conservation.
The initiative targets the expansion of the crop in the fragile ecosystem prone to landslides and to also have farmers plant it for the export market.
According to the county executive committee member (CEC) for Lands, Dr Philemon Bureti, the partnership with KWTA is for bamboo seedlings establishment support for farmers.
“A 50-acre piece of land in the Kibirong wetlands in Aldai Sub-County has been identified for bamboo cultivation,” said the CEC.
The plantation will be used for demonstration and to provide seedlings to farmers.
Dr Bureti said the aim was to replace eucalyptus plantations around wetlands and in sloppy ecosystems prone to mudslides as bamboo is ideal for environmental conservation.
The CEC said that perennial mudslides and floods experienced in some hilly and rocky regions of the county s would be addressed once farmers embrace large-scale bamboo cultivation.
“Bamboo is ideal for conservation since it is fast growing and its roots are good soil holders, also ideal for the fragile ecosystems. The administration is advocating replacement with bamboo of eucalyptus trees around wetlands.”
The county is also looking for bamboo markets in the Asian and European countries, in view to supporting commercial cultivation.
“Bamboo is used for furniture making, internal decorations and fencing, among other benefits. Farmers can exploit good markets in China, Japan, India and Korea,” he said.
The county official encouraged farmers to use the huge chunks of fallow land in Nandi to produce bamboo alongside growing maize, sugarcane and horticultural production and keeping dairy animals.
“We are engaging agricultural experts to enlighten farmers on the production of bamboo, alongside crops that will enhance food security and household earnings,” he said.
Most areas of Nandi have large swathes of undeveloped land. Farmers should seek guidance from extension experts and to use the land to generate income and better their living standards.
Extension officials were also identifying ideal zones for the various crops for better agribusiness.
“We have identified groups, individual farmers, youth and women enterprises to be supported in raising bamboo nurseries across the six sub-counties,” he added.
He said that the wetlands, including Kibirong, Kingwal, Kimondi and Kaptel, would be given priority in bamboo planting to conserve the environment.