Farmer Group Development in Kenya: Issues and Recommendations for Service Providers

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  • For decades now, there have been grave warnings about the alarming rates of tree and shrub destruction in the tropics. These warnings stressed the disastrous consequences of deforestation and predicted imminent fuelwood deficits across the African continent. However, the reality has been somewhat different from the worst-case scenario promoted by these doom-sayers. In fact, scientists looking at issues of land degradation, deforestation and population dynamics in Africa are now realizing that these alarmist statements were remiss by not taking into account the value and effort that farmers on the continent have put into long-term land care and regeneration. A study published in 1994 reveals that, contrary to popular belief, Kenyan land covered by trees and shrubs increased 4.2% annually from 1986 to 1992 (Holmgren, Masakha, &Sjoholm, 1994). The present study supports these national-level findings at the local level in Mbeere District, Kenya. Amid dramatic changes in land use, this study found that farmer-initiated, small-scale tree nurseries are at the heart of local efforts in reforestation, right on the farms themselves. To the extent that these nurseries represent farmers' efforts to integrate trees on their farmland, they are fundamentally important to the long-term development of farm forestry in the region.

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    Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 International