Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology is pushing forward with a significant initiative aimed at promoting the cultivation of tamarind trees across all 21 hilltops in Siaya County.


Led by Dr. Joseph Odhiambo, a research fellow at the university, this ambitious project focuses on harnessing the potential of tamarind trees not only for their environmental benefits in combating climate change but also for their extensive medicinal properties.


Dr. Odhiambo emphasized that the university’s commitment extends to collaborating closely with the Siaya County government on various initiatives, including the strategic planting of tamarind trees on hilltops. This initiative is designed to bolster the region’s forest cover, which currently stands at a mere 2%.


“The lifespan of tamarind trees spans an impressive 75 years, ensuring sustained forest cover and aiding in climate change mitigation,” highlighted Dr. Odhiambo.


He further noted that within five years of planting, these tamarind trees will yield fruits renowned for their medicinal attributes, particularly in treatments for diabetes and cancer.


However, Dr. Odhiambo raised a crucial concern regarding the gazettement of hilltops in the region. Presently, only three out of the 21 hilltops are officially recognized. He urged both the county and national governments to collaborate urgently to ensure the gazettement of the remaining hilltops before the project’s anticipated launch early next year.


“Gazettement is essential for safeguarding the planted trees, necessitating protective measures such as fencing to prevent encroachment into conservation areas,” emphasized Odhiambo.


The university’s proposed project is set to receive substantial funding from USAID and the government of France, amounting to 2 million euros (approximately Sh289 million), underscoring the significant support garnered for this environmentally impactful endeavor.