Imagine getting paid for just planting trees in your own farm? Well, this is exactly what’s happening in a small village in the interior of Tigania central subcounty in Meru county.
Meru TV encountered a group of enlightened community members seated on a field in the middle of a forest, which they later inform us that it’s a man-made forest.
The environment is very serene; cool wind, extremely clean atmosphere all sorrounded by green trees and bushes. We can only hear water flowing soothingly from the nearby stream as chirps and tweets of birds entertain our ears.
This feeling makes us getting a feeling of how an ideal ecosystem should look and feel like. This is perhaps why the world is in a rush to arrest excessive carbon emissions through encouraging farmers to engage in planting more crops that releases more oxygen in the atmosphere.
This is meant to promote sustainable use of environment so that it can serve the current needs without jeopardizing those of the future. In this regard, farmers in Meru have not been left behind in promoting sustainable agricultural practices that are good for the environment.
A group known as Micii Mikuru TIST cluster is at the forefront in educating farmers on the benefits of not only planting trees in their farms but also leaving them to grow for many years without cutting them down for fuel or other uses. This is one of the groups under The International Small Group & Tree Planting Program (TIST) which is doing all it takes to sustain the environment.
The organization is working with these farmers, to minimize the effect of climate change through planting of trees. The trees enhance climate neutrality which involves emitting less and absorbing more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to reduce global climate change.
In this group sits the cluster leader, Ms Regina Kanario who narrates how she has been coordinating several groups in implementing this initiative. “The leaders are known as cluster servants. I coordinate several farmers clusters in Ankamia, Irindiro, Gitutha, Micii Mikuru, Kithare and Murichia in Tigania East constituency.”
Regina explains how several people have benefited from the program since they joined it. “We work as a group because money is paid in groups. You can’t be paid individually. We measure the tree circumference with a tape measure and that is how we get the tree tonnes.Then we send the data to the TIST management and later we are paid the profit and the meeting allowances.”
Sitting allowances are paid to entice all members of the cluster to attend the meetings so that they can learn and get more committed in the programme. Regina tells us that the programme has benefited quite a number of students from humble backgrounds by offering them education scholarships.
After the cluster meeting, we visit a young man known as Gituma Phineas who has a tree nursery nearby. He explains how he looks forward to earning money from his tree nursery. “Not many people have tree nurseries in this area. I am looking forward to selling these trees to schools because they too want to benefit from this programme.”
David Mungathia, a cluster member also narrates to us how he joined TIST in 2006 but didn’t know exactly what to do then. “ I joined TIST in 2006 but I didn’t believe that people would be paid for planting and keeping trees in their farms. I was later convinced by some neighbors in 2018 and agreed to join the group. I have been earning money from my trees and I would like to encourage other community members to join this program.”
New members just identify a group within their proximity, join it and are trained on what is expected of them. No cluster member is allowed to cut a tree without TIST’s authority.
Some of the challenges faced by the programme is that many people don’t know about it while others are yet to embrace it fully. But here is the thing, you don’t lose anything when you plant a tree; it’ll be in your farm and when you want to cut it for you own use, you just inform the cluster leaders and later replace it.
The farmers enlisted in this carbon credit program are smiling all the way to the bank just to harvest where they haven’t strained much to plant.