z Standard Group, Ashut and Fruity Schools Africa launches fruit tree planting initiative

Standard Group, Ashut and Fruity Schools Africa launches fruit tree planting initiative

Standard Group Chief Technical Officer Robert Toroitich (sec. right), joins pupils in planting a guava seedling at Nairobi River Primary School. [ Jenipher Wachie, Standard]

A charitable organization has started a project of planting fruit trees in schools in a bid to boost nutrition and the country's forest cover.

Speaking during the launch of the initiative yesterday at Nairobi River Primary School in Nairobi County, Kennedy Odoyo, Team Leader and Founder of Fruity Schools Africa explained the fruit trees will mature very first.

In the venture, Fruity fruit has partnered with Standard Group Plc Ashut Engineering Ltd and in an initiative that will see a wide variety of grafted fruit trees planted in 337 primary and secondary schools within Nairobi County.

Odoyo was speaking during the launch of the initiative yesterday at Nairobi River Primary School in Nairobi County.
He said the initiative is not just to increase tree cover but also to nourish, sweeten and brighten the future of Kenyan children through fruits. 

''We chose this school because we wanted to establish an orchard that will be a model not only to Nairobi schools but to other schools all over Kenya. Today we planted 300 Hass avocados and guavas fruit tree seedlings that will be mature with fruits in two years time. All the trees that will be planted today will be entered into the national database as we contribute to meeting 10 per cent tree cover, "said Odoyo. 
Mr Odoyo asked other corporates to support the initiative so that they establish the same tree orchards in the rest of 46 counties. 

Fruity trees initiative partners pose for a photo at Nairobi River Primary school. [Jenipher Wachie, Standard]

Head Of Corporate Affairs at Standard Group Charles Kimathi said the Group through its KTN TV plans to launch a show called Tunda Tunda, that will document the Fruity Schools tree planting initiatives. 

"The project is vital because it addresses three components of food security, nutrition and tree cover. Our Farm Kenya initiative will drive this campaign that will involve all schools in Kenya" said Kimathi.

A number of partners have fine onboard including Ashut Engineering Ltd and Jubilee Insurance. 

Regional director and chief research scientist at Kenya Forestry Research Institute(KEFRI) Dr Eston Mutitu said the initiative will go a long way in increasing tree cover and meet the 10 per cent target by 2022.

"We will work closely with the school and other stakeholders to ensure that this project succeeds by providing necessary support including in sections of pests and diseases control on these trees to make sure they grow to maturity," said Dr Mutitu. 

He said they will work out how to work with the initiative partners to work on value addition by increasing the shelflife of the fruits to avoid wastage. 
Mr Mutitu added that KEFRI has developed a software that will be able to know how many trees are planted in real-time whenever tree planting is done, what tree species are planted, which area and for what purpose. 

Ashut Engineering Ltd will sponsor the Nairobi County trees planting in 337 schools with 41 tree orchards in each school.
"Corporate social responsibility is key to us and we saw it good as we celebrate our 41 years by contributing to government's target of 10 per cent tree cover by 2022 and for the sake of our planet and nutrition of our children. By having the school children take part in tree planting, we are also inculcating an aspect of responsibility in them, '' said Mehul Shah, a director at the company and who also called upon other stakeholders to join the initiative.

At the same time, Dr Julius Jwan, Principal Secretary, Ministry of Education,  the chief guest said planting trees is important because it gives the children a good environment to study.

Senior deputy director in charge of research and development at the ministry of environment and Forestry, Dr Jane Njuguna said the government is in the process of establishing tree nurseries in schools, prisons and other private and public institutions to help meet the 10 per cent tree cover. She added that Kenya Forest Service will set up a model tree nursery at the school.