Harness indigenous trees

Acacia tortilis pods

Cattle feed on Acacia tortilis pods at Nzalae village in Kitui County.

Photo credit: Pius Maundu | Nation Media Group

As the nationwide campaign to combat climate change through tree planting gains momentum, is imperative to focus on indigenous trees to maximise their survival and benefits in specific areas. Distribution of seedlings should align with the unique ecological conditions, ensuring the success of afforestation efforts.

In the arid and semi-arid regions (ASALs), indigenous trees such as the hardy acacia have numerous benefits, making them a valuable asset in the fight against climate change. They help to address land degradation by controlling soil erosion due to their umbrella shape that covers the soil from direct rain.

They also significantly contribute to carbon dioxide sequestration, positively impacting the global climate. Besides, nature-based enterprises such as beekeeping become easier owing to the presence of acacia flowers, which bees like for their nectar.

Also, acacia pods are a source of livelihood for residents, who sell them dry in August and September. Remarkably, a tree can yield up to 15 bags of pods.

Beyond financial gains, the nutritional value of acacia pods makes them a vital resource for livestock. The pods contribute to livestock health and provide an alternative source of nutrition during droughts, easing concerns about pasture depletion.

Scientifically known as Acacia tortilis, the thorn tree is a significant source of protein, fibre and minerals, making it an excellent natural animal feed.

Collaboration between the forest research agency and the Ministry of EAC, Arid and Semi-Arid Lands is essential to unlock the full potential of acacia trees. Comprehensive studies on acacia are necessary to explore and enhance its multifaceted value.

Mr Kasina is a development communication specialist. [email protected].