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Section of Kenya Kwanza Leaders Gang-up Against Gachagua After His Forest Remarks

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua yesterday said that he has ordered the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Environment to initiate the Shamba System program that will see Kenyans farm in forests in an effort to utilize all available land for farming.

"This government is yours, you are the ones who take care of trees. You should be allowed to farm inside forests so that the problem of food shortage is dealt with once and for all. I have ordered the Ministry of Environment to initiate steps to start the program," Gachagua said during the funeral service of the Baringo Deputy Governor.

However, a section of leaders allied to the Kenya Kwanza Alliance has castigated the move saying that the policy will lead to deforestation and land grabbing.

Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale opposed the move quoting Professor Wangari Mathai who was against the Shamba system.

"Am the Senator of Kakamega, home to Kakamega Forest, the only remaining, indigenous tropical rain forest outside the Congo of DRC and the Amazon of Brazil.

I would find it extremely difficult to disagree with Prof Wangari Mathai," he said.

Lawyer Miguna Miguna also faulted Gachagua telling him not to make rush decisions which have dire implications at roadside events.

"Rigathi Gachagua must avoid these kinds of roadside declarations. Farming in forests is a very bad idea," Miguna noted.

Lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi also found the directive a recipe for land grabbing and reduction of forested areas in Kenya.

"Farming in gazetted forests is land grab ala Moi/KANU. Full stop," he said.

Amidst the sharp criticism, some leaders agreed with Gachagua and committed to supporting the program. Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei noted that it was a mind-opening idea that would conserve forests as well as increase food production.

"Shamba system shall accelerate 10 per cent forest cover and it is in line with climate change policies, Also ensure food security, therefore, bringing down cost of living. There shall be no illegal logging or land grabbing. It will create community ownership & protection of forests in Kenya," Cherargei said.

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