For people in Kenya firewood has long been utilised as a cooking fuel.  The problem with this is that timber is stripping the countryside of its mature trees. Charcoal too is claiming the existence of trees in Kenya, and in order to process tea, heat is needed from fires to cure the leaves, also harms the trees in the region. This has lead people in Kenya to look for other ways of cheap energy.  Firewood is no longer easy to come by, like it used to be in the past.

Kenya’s government is intervening to contain logging, and is regulating how much wood tea processors should use to cure the leaves. But policing charcoal burning may be a lost cause.

In lower Eastern Kenya alone, at least 12,000 bags with a 90 kg (200 lb) capacity are trafficked to Nairobi, the capital, every day, according to Kenya Climate Change Network. Loads of people look to charcoal making when other jobs – including farming – flop to produce sufficient income.

An increased amount of Kenyans have found a creative alternative for charcoal making to increase their incomes, farming mangoes. Instead of preparing land to plant food crops at farms, Kenyans are tending to seven-foot high mango trees whose fluttering reddish-yellow flowers already promise a jumbo harvest.

The Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), a government-run institution, introduced mango varieties that could grow in arid areas, mature quickly and produce bigger and sweeter fruit.

Experts reveal that new mango breeds can produce 10 times more fruit than conventional varieties, yielding 1,000 to 1,200 mangoes per tree each season. The Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) says mango farming fits into an “ecosystem-based” approach to farming that that retains nature’s regenerative ability while also testing new agricultural technologies that may contribute to food security. Planting trees – including mangos – helps absorb climate-changing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and the new varieties of mangos are becoming a reliable cash crop in an arid region struggling to produce staple crops like maize.

January is when charcoal burning is highest, but it seems as though Kenyans will be harvesting ripe mangoes.

Edited from

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