Julius Waweru, an agriculture expert, is a tree seedling farmer in the Kenol area of Murang’a County, Kenya.
He sells approximately 70,000 seedlings per year, with each seedling priced at Sh150.
This agronomist explains that to start a tree seedling nursery, one must have a minimum of Sh200,000 in capital and be prepared for three to five years of hard work to establish the nursery.
However, the total cost of setting up a nursery depends on various factors such as land ownership and size, tree species, access to clean water, labor costs, among other factors.
“Agroforestry, which involves planting trees alongside crops and sometimes integrating livestock, provides shade for both plants and animals while also helping to regulate the temperature in the field. Fruit trees serve as food for humans, and some tree species provide fodder for livestock,” Waweru informs.
“Our customers are individuals interested in investing in the fruit business, homeowners looking to beautify their gardens, and organizations purchasing shade trees as part of climate-smart agriculture initiatives to combat climate change,” he adds.
Through his company, Modern Seedlings and Agro-based Consultancy, Waweru not only sells seedlings but also educates farmers about the importance of planting trees on their farms and engaging in tree seedling farming.
“This business is profitable, and what’s even more encouraging is that it contributes to environmental conservation and climate change mitigation. Farming is a noble culture that should be embraced by everyone,” he says with a smile.
Another farmer who embraces agroforestry is Kennedy Ngoma, who plants indigenous trees, fruit trees, and other crops while also raising chickens and cattle on a single farm in Nakuru County.
This form of farming is promoted and supported by the Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) organization.
In collaboration with the ViAgroforestry organization from Sweden, PELUM encourages tens of thousands of small-scale farmers in arid and semi-arid areas such as Kajiado, Siaya, Bungoma, Samburu, Laikipia, and Nyeri to transform these regions into productive areas by integrating trees into their farming systems.
Farmers in this program have planted over 500,000 trees, helping to control soil nitrogen levels.
“Many farmers in our vicinity already have trees on their farms that they can use as a source of firewood, reducing the pressure on forests,” Ngoma tells Akilimali.
Shadrack Obura plants trees and bamboo in his Suna East farm in Migori County, alongside crops like millet, bananas, maize, and other vegetables.
“I started this afforestation initiative to control soil erosion and enhance soil fertility on my father’s farm,” Obura explains.
This farmer sells around 70,000 seedlings each year to other farmers, schools, community development groups, and the Migori County government as part of tree planting efforts.
One bamboo seedling is sold for Sh250, while others are sold between Sh5 and Sh20 each.
Experts say that agroforestry not only makes farms more attractive but also reduces the impact of strong winds, serves as a source of organic fertilizer, and can be an additional source of income.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), agroforestry, land, and water management are among the essential strategies that can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Despite its significance, agroforestry also presents challenges, such as the time it takes to see returns, extensive labor requirements, limited market access, and a lack of knowledge among farmers.
There is also competition for nutrients in the soil, and trees can attract more pests, increasing the cost of pest control.