One of the most famous runners ever is using an agroforestry system on his farm.

Today we visited the Cherangany district accompanied by divisional head Francis Munene. This district produced the best middle and long distance runners the world has ever seen, for example Edith Masai, Lorna Kiplagat, Moses Kiptanui, Paul Ereng and others. This area was almost totally clear of trees 15 years ago. Take a look at the pictures and compare the right side of the road with the left side. To the right there is an agroforestry plantation and to the left maize. Probably a good comparison to how the whole terrain looked in the past.
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We had the possibility to visit Mr Moses Kiptanuis farm. Unfortunately Moses was not home. But his two small kids and the manager showed us around the farm. They use agroforestry in very successful way. The manager said that Moses is very satisfied with the farm using agroforestry along the guidelines of the Vi-skogen project.
The Kiptanuis farm have crops as tomatoes, maize, sukimavike and fruits as bananas, avocado and passion. The tree species was grevelia, eucalyptus, sespania and more. They also keep cattle and a big plant nursery with a lot of different species. The coming summer VI-skogen in cooperation with the farm will organize a day of forestry and agriculture.

We also passed Paul Erengs farm. We talked to his manager because Ereng work as a running coach in USA. This farm hasn’t started using agroforestry – yet, but Francis promote agroforestry and hopes that this farm will start using a more modern and profitable system in the future.

The last visit for the day were to a running camp organized by Josef Chebet, double Boston marathon winner. There we met Kenyas coming runners; Lorna Kiplagats younger brother Look, eighteen years old and with a personal record on half marathon at 64 minutes.
I was asked by the young runners to arrange their partition in Stockholm Marathon. The deal was to sponsor the trip and and get 15% of the prize money after the costs for flight and accommodation has been deducted. An interesting investment proposal with a touch of gamble.

It is quite easy to understand why these guys are so good in running. They live on an altitude of 2000 meters and practice up to 3500 meters two times every day except Sundays. There are other explanations but altitude and daly practice is what gives them the cutting edge.

More pictures here.

Vi har lagt till nya bilder som är tagna i samband med en mindre avverkning i Kwanza norr om Kitale. Entreprenören Morris Wabwile fäller träd för 200 Ksh(20 Sek) styck och arbetar upp dem till bräder för 5 Ksh/ fot ( vilket är 30 cm i världen utanför samväldesländerna.
Som synes finns det en hel del att önska vad det gäller utrustning och säkerhet.

Photoset Forest labour in Kenya
Det finns också några nya bilder i Research and fieldwork

We have added new pictures from a logging site in Kwanza north of Kitale. The contractor Morris Wabwile charges 200 Ksh(20 Sek) per tree and another 5Ksh per foot to cut them to planks.

Photoset Forest labour in Kenya
There are some new pictures in the Research and Fieldwork set as well.

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Today we visited a small sawmill who sells timber. A large part of the timber comes from trees which are strictly forbidden to cut, for example mahogany, rosewood and such. The general prizes are low compared to world market prizes and very low considering the quality of the wood.

The mahogany is imported from rain forests in Kongo where they now probably cut larger areas with untouched rain forest than in any other part of the world. Here in Kenya it is unfortunately no risks involved in dealing with illegal timber. Corruption among officials is considered to be widely spread and retrieving necessary documents is rarely a problem for the ones who can afford the hush money.

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Vi-skogens project manager, Björn Horvath found rosewood (Hagenia abyssinica) on the sawmill. Rosewood is illegally logged in the area around Kitale.
Björn stresses the importance of giving support to farmers which have planted for example Elgon teak, so they can harvest these more exclusive trees to substitute rainforest timber. There must be a functioning legal market – otherwise no farmers will plant trees in the future.

Recently an Ugandan newspaper printed an article on the subject of the Mabiran rain forest which covers an area of approximately 7000 ha. The governments is requesting the Ministry of Land and Agriculture to provide alternative areas to be gazetted as forest reserves, in exchange for the Mabira forest which will be given to the Suger cooperation of Uganda Limited.
If the government gives the sugar company the forest area to plant sugar canes, there will never be rain forest there again, species of animals and plants will die and the lack of forest will affect the water condition in the whole area.

A natural forest can never be substituted.

Pictures of indigenous wood

Some research and fieldwork pictures.

To be able to reach the Uhuru peak on the altitude 5895 m, we contracted the guide Allan William and his crew. The mission needed eight porters for food and other necessary things for survival. The expedition took us six days from the gate at altitude 1700 m through Mandara hut at altitude 2700 m. The first trip was approximately 10 km and took us 2 hours and 30 minutes and was a quite easy walk. The next two days started with a walk about 15 km to Horombo hut and a stay over two days to acclimatize on the altitude 3700 m. Everything was ok so far, no headache.
The last day before starting the climb included a walk from altitude 3700 m to altitude 4800 m at Kibo hut. The tour from Kibo to Uhuro is the most difficult and the hardest part to endure. It is very steep and we started to walk at midnight, the temperature was around zero degrees and it was snowing. Two hours later the moon came out and temperature fell to minus 15 degrees.
Allan our guide was very professional and we kept up a good pace. He is a experienced mountain man with over 15 years as porter and guide. He told us that the glacier is melting rapidly and the melt-away is increasing due to the global warming.

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Two and a half hours led us to belive that we would be able to reach the Gilmans point at altitude 5650 m and then continue the short walk to Uhuro peak at 5895 m. We couldn’t have been more wrong, it took us around 6 hours to Gilmans point from Kibo. We all started to have some small problems such as headache, freezing on fingers and feet. After a short break we started the walk on the rim up to Uhuro. After about 20 minutes my problems started. My fingers and feet started to freeze. Soon I committed a mistake. I tried to walk a little faster to race up to Torgny, who went ahead. Suddenly it became harder to concentrate, it felt like I was drunk. My perception was low and I stumbled around. Finally I reached Uhuro peak tired and frozen. Allan acted quickly and ordered one of our porters, Joaquim to walk me down to the Kibo camp. If he had´nt acted so fast I would probably have lost my fingers.

Åke our oldest member (58 years old) in our climbing crew reached the peak one hour after me – a very impressive performance.

The last days of walking Kibo- Uhuro- Kibo took us about 12 hours including drinking pauses. All of us were very happy with the hike and we will strongly recommend others to climb Kilimanjaro – with the aid of professional guides. This expedition has given me a lot of new experiences, stunning pictures and great memories.

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More pictures from the Kilimanjaro tour.

Allan William Trecking 

Before climbing the highest mountain in Africa, Kilimanjaro altitude 5895 m, there were time for safari. To be able to see all the fantastic animals you have to visit a national park. Ngorongoro crater in the northern Tanzania is one of the most famous national parks in the world and if you are lucky you can see the big five there (lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino and leopard). This tour was successful, we saw them all except of leopard, which is the most difficult to spot.

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This lion family is more dangerous for human beings and domestic animals then all wolfs in Sweden together. Therefore it was very interesting to compare experiences with two guys from the maasai tribe. The maasais have cattle and all their animals are important for a villages survival. One killed cattle could mean that a family would die of starvation. Lions and other predatory animals (leopard, cheats, and hyenas) are killing a lot of cattle every year and of course some human beings, aprox 10 in Tanzania and Kenya. I told the maasai tribesmen that people in Sweden are afraid of wolfs despite the fact that wolfs are not a treat to humans and we will not die if a wolf attack a few domestic animals. When the maasais heard that wolfs have not killed human being in the last 100 years and only kill a few domestic animal, laughed a lot and said that Swedish people could come to them and learn how to live with the wild animals so they don’t have to be afraid anymore.

More pictures from the safari tour. 

In 1983 the first project of the Vi-skogen agroforestry program started up in West Pokot. It’s aim was to stop the desert spread. The he next project started up in the district of Trans Nzoja south from Poket in the western part of Kenya in 1986.
Today the focus is on building up the agroforestry system which means that farmers plant crops together with trees. This system will improve the soil and the economy for the farmers.

20 years later we can see that the project is a success. Agroforestry farms are much more productive than for example maize farms. All farms have during this time produced crops and fire wood. The coming years will also see the harvest of the first generation timber trees. Agroforestry farms has a program in which plants at least two new trees for every harvested one. The planting and silviculture programs are already performing very well and will continue to deliver as the Vi-skogen project spreads and further its organization.

The key when it comes to all sorts of forestry is to balance the harvest level to the level of the growth. It is crucial to Vi-skogen to keep planting at least two new trees for every tree they harvest. If the program works according to plan it will also further the general soil sustainability and protect from erosion due to sun and rain.

The next step as I see it, is to educate farmers and workers in calculating timber and how work with chainsaw in a secure and professional manner. One task in the future could be a larger educating program in the use of chainsaw. Today many workers are using chainsaw with only ordinary shoes and trousers with out helmet.

I can see Swedish chainsaw license be introduced in Kenya in the future. It must should introduced – otherwise the harvesting will injure and even kill people and in the end possibly harming the overall development of the young Kenyan agroforestry industry.

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TimberBusiness woman, Beatrice Okwakau with her chainsaw. No safety clothes.
Chain saw instructor Magnus Hakeman. Safety clothes.

 More images / Fler bilder

We have had the pleasure of meeting Beatrice Okwakau, business woman in timber and a farm owner. In order to start listing market prices of timber we gather information on prices on different tree species. Mrs Okwaku is a cunning business woman and the prices we got are quite low. It seems like the timber market in Kenya look pretty much like back when Dickson ruled the infamous estate Baggböle in Sweden.

You can see on the pictures below wich chainsaw is used and popular.

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Manual labour with chainsaw in Kenya means a minimum of security. When it comes to security I have seen horrible things. The working people in Kenya are not equipped with safety gear at all. When using the saw they work in shorts and sandals. This could mean opportunities for Swedish instructors to develop the safety standards.