El Mecanismo para la Restauración de Bosques y Paisajes

Study on value chain development in the Kenyan Arid and Semi-Arid lands

Year published: 06/02/2020

Tapping the locally available natural resources in the Kenyan Arid and Semi-Arid lands (ASALs) for the improvement of livelihoods

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), through The Restoration Initiative (TRI) project, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF-6), aims at restoring deforested and degraded lands with the Forest and Landscape Restoration (FLR) approach. TRI also aims at enhancing the socio-economic development of local communities through the development of bio-enterprises of Non-Timber Forest Products and Services (NTFPS). The project has been implemented in Mount Kulal Biosphere Reserve in Marsabit County, a UNESCO ‘’Man and the Biosphere’’ reserve thanks to its unique and diverse ecosystems, Mukogodo Forest and landscape in Laikipia and Isiolo counties, which have high biodiversity, especially in terms of wildlife of touristic interest.

NTFPs are forest products that can be used for different purposes. They include berries and fruits, honey, gums, nuts, vegetables, fish and game, medicinal plants, essences and a range of barks and fibres such as bamboo, rattans, and a host of other palms and grasses. Over the years, governments and development agencies have encouraged the sale and domestication of NTFPs as a way of boosting incomes for rural households and food security. As part of these efforts, FAO Kenya contracted an expert with solid experience and expertise in private sector development to deliver a gender-based value chain analysis of NTFPs in Isiolo, Laikipia, Marsabit and Samburu counties.

The expert, in consultation with KEFRI and Gums and Resins Association of Kenya (GARA) and other key partners including Kenya Forest Service (KFS), Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), National Museums of Kenya, the County governments of Samburu, Marsabit, Isiolo and Laikipia, Community Forest Associations, non-state actors, private sector actors and Community based Organizations (CBOs) among others, carried out a value chain analysis of prioritized NTFPS with commercial potential in the four counties. The expert did a literature review and undertook field visits to the respective counties where Key Informant Interviews (KIIs) and Focused Group Discussions (FGDs) were organized with the community members, government officials and traders within the area. The purpose was to understand the challenges and opportunities for an inclusive value chain development of selected products.

Ecotourism and the following NTFPS (gum arabic, gum resins, agave sisalina, aloe, opuntia and bee keeping) were identified to have commercial potential in the targeted landscapes. However, additional work has been undertaken to carry out resource assessment, mapping and fundamental laboratory tests against minimum parameters to establish what can be sustainably commercialised. Potential barriers have been spotted at the production, processing, policy, standardization, marketing level and must be urgently addressed. Potential partners that work in the same areas are World Vision, GIZ-Acacia EPZ, county government and Concern Worldwide. They can be contacted for future collaboration.

For more information contact: [email protected]

Elijah Mboko and Meshack Muga (FAO)