Kenya: Tree Farming Now Lucrative for Western Farmers
By Barnabas Bii
"Commercial forest farmers in Western Kenya are making millions of shillings from the sub-sector, following increased woodlot products prices.
Annual income from wood products in the region has increased from Sh9.8 million to Sh14.5 million as more farmers venture into commercial farm forestry.
"A ready market for various tree products has made many farmers in Western Kenya shift to commercial tree growing," said Dr Joshua Cheboiwo of Kenya Forestry Research Institute (Kefri).
He disclosed that farmers in the region were earning Sh150,000 up from Sh50,000 from well-stocked woodlots.
Dr Cheboiwo added that the government ban on harvesting of trees in public forests has led to the rapid increase in sawnwood prices in most regional markets.
The cost of timber has increased from Sh13,800 to Sh24,000 per tonne in the past few years due to an acute shortage of logs.
The cost of charcoal has also increased from Sh400 to Sh600 a bag in most markets in the region due to an acute shortage of the commodity.
"The lucrative private tree growing business has earned a windfall for farmers who planted trees before the government ban on harvesting of logs in public forests was enforced," explained Dr Cheboiwo.
The cost of construction poles has also gone up from Sh70 to Sh130 due to the shortage of materials."