About the “Shamba System”

Following announcement by the Deputy president Hon. Rigathi Gachagua on re-introduction of the “Shamba System” to help solve food insecurity problem that Kenya is facing now, I join thousands of environmentalists in standing by the words of Nobel Laureate the late Prof Wangari Maathai who opined that the shamba system was unsustainable and subject to abuse.

(Case scenario) The establishment of Forest Act by an Act of Parliament in 2005 which gave birth to Plantation Establishment and Livelihood Improvement Scheme (PELIS) was a government scheme by KFS to help in restoration of degraded forests and increase forest cover in the country.

Communities living adjacent to forests were allocated forest land and they cultivated crops as they grow tree seedlings until the land is untenable. But until today there exist no substantial research or report showing increased forest cover trough plantations and decreased forest dependency as a result of the introduction of PELIS.

On the contrary, there exists a massive invasion and settlement of people in gazetted forest areas. Till date Illegal logging is thriving despite the ban on the shamba system. Forest cover is actually shrinking with indigenous forests especially at risk despite their critical role as a habitat to indigenous species of flora and fauna. It should be noted that even traditional forest management practices saw the forest as sacred and played a crucial role in its conservation.

Ideally the problem has been corrupt KFS officers who turn a blind eye to destructive human activities e.g., illegal logging of indigenous trees and charcoal burning. During Moi era, inequality in distribution of the parcels of land, cases of corruption, favourism and tribalism played out in open. Nyayo Tea Zone happened and the late president Moi & cronies hived off the forest to accommodate politicians who in turn sold their share to unsuspecting citizens who settled in the gazetted forest land up to date, this is where encroachment of forestland and the squatter problem began.

Where do we expect other flora and fauna to stay if all we can do is encroach their habitats, disrupting them in the process?

Introducing Shamba system will see the environmentally harmful exotic trees being introduced which lack the ecologically crucial functions that an indigenous forest ecosystem can provide. Shamba system of farming will shrink efforts to conserve biodiversity; Clearing of forest to pave way for crop farming will decrease forest cover and result into destruction of natural habitat and water towers which will directly translate to loss of biodiversity. This will affect the ability of the forest to provide social and ecosystem services.

Decreased forest cover will fuel the effects of climate change leading to extreme conditions. The effect of collapsing water towers will lead to acute water shortages which has impact on ecosystems.  Farming activities such as crop growing and livestock raring will decline. The collapse in agricultural production will lead to economic crisis instead of economic recovery.

Tree Planting in schools

 Abolish shamba system now, we don’t want our children and grandchildren to suffer from effects of climate change.

By: Bennittes Kipyegon

Environmentalist & Climate Activist

Comment (1)

  1. Nyanjau
    November 2, 2022

    Nice article Benny 😊

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