John Too
Kenya Forest Services
Kenya Power
logging.“Kenya Power
Nandi County
Reuben Too
Rural Electrification Authority
South Africa
Uasin Gishu County
Western Kenya

Shrinking wooden poles market hits tree growers

Returns from investment in commercial tree planting are falling in Western Kenya due to lack of market for the produce following Kenya Power and the Rural Electrification Authority’s (REA) shift to concrete transmission poles. Most farmers who have invested in private forestry, in particular eucalyptus-growing, yesterday said they were incurring losses running into millions of shillings after Kenya Power and REA scaled down demand for the wooden poles.The farmers said they cannot also harvest trees after Kenya Forest Services (KFS) suspended the issuance of licences following a government ban on logging.“Kenya Power and REA should review their decision on wooden poles to sustain investment in commercial forestry,” said John Too from Saos, Nandi County.Eucalyptus is the most preferred tree species in the region because of fast maturity.India is the leading eucalyptus- growing country in the world followed by Brazil while South Africa is highest cultivator of the tree species.“We are faced with market challenges for mature eucalyptus trees due to low demand for wood fuels by most companies, including tea estates and sugar cane milling companies,” said Reuben Too from Ziwa, Uasin Gishu County.Prices of concrete poles range between Sh18,000 and Sh20,000 compared to Sh12,000 for wooden poles.

According to KFS reports, firewood sells for Sh1,000 per cubic metre while transmission pole wood costs Sh1,200 which the farmers consider to be more profitable.“Increased charcoal prices has ensured better returns to black wattle woodlot owners that realised an increase in prices from Sh50,000 to Sh150,000 per hectare of well stocked woodlots,” added the report.The price of charcoal has increased from Sh800 to Sh1,200 per bag in most parts of the region due to shortage following government ban on logging.The cost of timber has also increased in most parts of the region from Sh10,000 to over Sh40,000 per tonne due to shortage of logs.

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