Impact of Fuelwood Consumption by Three Tea Factories on Environment and On-Farm Tree Production in Kangema Sub-County, Murang’a County, Kenya
Kahare, Samson Githinji
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The tropical forest loss is increasing by 2,101 km2 per year. The factors causing the increasing tropical forest loss include agro-industrial development and exploitation of fuelwood by many countries. The role of human involvement in the deforestation situation in Africa cannot be understated. Studies carried out in Kenya show that most of the Tea factories rely on fuelwood for their energy requirements. This forces them to heavily contribute to the felling down of trees in the quest of meeting energy demands. The study sought to determine the impact of fuelwood demand by three tea factories on On-farm tree production and the environment in Kangema Sub-county. The objectives that guided the study were to assess the fuelwood consumption rate by the three tea factories, to determine the effects of fuelwood consumption by the three tea factories on the environment and on-farm tree production, examine the efforts by the three tea factories to meet their fuelwood demand and to determine farmers’ awareness level on the need to for on-farm tree production. The study employed a descriptive research design. The study target population was the Tea farmers in Kangema Sub-county, and the sample size was determined by simple random sampling method. The study had a sample size of two hundred and ninety farmers and six key informants. Data were collected using interview schedules, observation sheets and interview guides for key informants who included the factory section heads, area Environment Officer, the Agricultural Extension Officer and the area administrative Chief. Data were analyzed by use of descriptive and inferential statistics for the quantitative data while the qualitative data was analyzed by way of understanding the meaning of the answers brought forth by the respondents and relating it to the previous studies undertaken in the field of fuelwood demand and its impact on the tree cover requirements. The research findings indicated that the consumption rate of on-farm trees was significantly high. A correlation between the type of trees planted by the farmers and the preference to support a continuous supply of fuelwood to tea factories yielded an r = -0.459 and a p-value of 0.000 at a significant level of 0.05. The increased consumption of on-farm trees had serious effects on environment. A correlation test between exploitation of on-farm tree production and and the approximate portion of land with trees returned an r = 0.016 and a p-value of 0.792 at a significance level of 0.05. Tea factories had instituted a number of strategies and efforts to ensure continuous supply of fuelwood for their factory. This was proven by the correlation test between factories efforts to provide farmers with quality, fast growing seedlings which returned an r = 0.08 and a p-value of 0.901. Awareness of the need for on-farm tree production and to the environment was significantly high. The farmers’ levels of awareness on the need for on-farm tree production and how they fared in attaining the 10% tree cover policy on their farms was studied by correlating the two. The result showed an r = -0.176 at a p-value of 0.003. The study recommended that tea factories should be regulated and forced by way of the statute to diversify their energy sources. The tea factories should equally be forced by the county governments to grow trees as a replacement measure in the harvested areas. This would positively impact on the tree replacement rates by the tea factories. Sensitization by the statutory environmental organs on the need to practice on-farm tree production to attain the requisite ten percent tree cover should be done.