Saboti residents unhappy with Shamba system beneficiaries

Saboti constituency manager Luke Naibei addressing journalists in Kitale. Photo/Aspect News

Residents of Kinyoro, Saboti and Machewa areas in Trans Nzoia West Sub County are up in arms against the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) over alleged unfair selection of beneficiaries of the Shamba system.

The residents accused KFS officials in the region of giving out forest land to outsiders from the neighbouring Bungoma county yet the immediate neighbours are left out in the exercise.

“We are calling on the Chief Conservator of Forests Julius Kamau to come to the rescue of the residents since their pleas have been ignored,” said Saboti constituency manager Luke Naibei.

Mr. Naibei accused the regional management of KFS of not taking in to consideration guidelines of the system which stipulate that residents who border forests should be the beneficiaries.

“We find it unreasonable for the management to turn a blind eye to the requests by the locals to be part of the beneficiaries and has instead resorted to threatening them,” he noted.

Residents also vowed to petition parliament, through area MP Caleb Amisi, to compel the director of public prosecutions to launch a forensic audit to determine which criteria was used in selecting beneficiaries.

“We want the process to be quashed and be done a fresh where locals will have to participate in the allocation in order to have a say on who are on deserving beneficiaries,” said Mr. Moses Masika, a local.

The shamba system also known as Pelis (Plantation Establishment for Livelihood Improvement Scheme) has been implemented by Kenya Forest Service (KFS) in one form or another for over 100 years.

The system allows communities residing nearby forests to plant and tend to tree seedlings whilst planting their own crops among the seedlings on degraded parts of the forest. They move off the land once the forest has matured.

The system allows optimum production of food crops along with forestry species from the same land and thus meets most of the social and economic needs of the shamba farmer.