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Medicinal root dealers eye 10,000 trees goal

 Victor Kigali hawks white ginger commonly known as Mukombero at Kibuye market in Kisumu. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

An organisation dealing in Mukombera (Mondia Whitei) products has embarked on an ambitious plan to plant 10,000 trees within the Kakamega forest ecosystem.

The entity fears that the wonder vine, which is unique to the forest, would become extinct if not promoted.

The Mama Mutere group has so far identified Mukombera farmers who live within the forest ecosystem cutting through Shinyalu, Ikolomani, and Malava constituencies who will be part of the project. 

“Mondia is prevalent in the Kakamega Forest ecosystem and we have to preserve it or lose it as some parts of the country did years ago. We plan to plant the trees as Mukombera is a creeper that grows wildly and twists around the branches of tall trees,” said Benjamin Okalo, the head of the group.

The group, which specialises in buying the Mukombera roots from farmers around the forest, grinds the powder and sells it in Nairobi. The root has traditionally been used for the treatment of anorexia, stress, bilharzia and sexual dysfunction as well as for general aches and pains. 

Okalo says this has resulted in the species becoming rare or threatened with extinction in the wild especially the Kakamega Forest where people sneak in to uproot the plant. 

Rose Malenya, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Warden - Kakamega National Reserve said in a previous interview that Mondia poachers pulled the roots out without due care making the rest of the plant die. 

“When they extract it, they dig out the roots and the plant dies – they’re not considering it needs to be there tomorrow for their use,” she said. 

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