Francis Githui a.k.a Thuti, a resident of Nanyuki town in Laikipia County, is a dedicated citizen who is passionate about environmental conservation. Planting a tree has been his way of improving nature. But he does not just plant trees, but fruit trees. His efforts will literary bear fruits in the next couple of years – in some cases, months – when Laikipians, especially those in Nanyuki town, benefit from the fruit tree plants.
With a tree nursery near Nanyuki dumpsite that serves as the base of his operations, Thuti has a fruit tree seedlings nursery. Open space in Nanyuki town streets and public institutions, riparian and river banks present an excellent opportunity for Thuti to plant fruit trees. He also donates seedlings to individuals, groups, and organizations. He has over 180,000 fruit trees seedlings in his nursery which include avocadoes, passion fruits, guavas, loquats, and apples. He says the aim of starting tree planting along the rivers, roads, hospitals, schools, orphanages,s and the library is helpful in the reduction of lifestyle diseases such as hypertension and diabetes and also other non-communicable diseases. Thuti says that once the trees mature, they will have fruits that will be readily available for everyone.
The tree will also contribute to greening Nanyuki town as well as providing shade for people to relax. The project is a source of employment for many youths. There was also the inspiration of having to quench one’s thirst in a healthy way just like in the ancient days when non-poisonous wild berries were found everywhere and could be eaten at any time.
The environmentalist also had the vision to reestablish habitats for wild animals such as monkeys, birds, and bees who are barely seen especially near towns. He wants to provide food and shelter for animals that live on trees so that they are not foreign to millennials and the next generations.
According to Mr. Thuti, the community around has been helpful in the maintenance of these trees by giving him free water to water the trees like hotel owners where he fetches water from and stores where he keeps his tools.
I have been given a piece of land near the dumpsite to plant my seedlings. He said. As an environmentalist, he uses milk packets that have been disposed to plant on his seedlings in his nursery. He has also collaborated with Kazi Mtaani programme to plant trees around Kigiri area.
This is not commercial work, it’s passion. he says.
He outsources his seedlings by buying the fruit and getting the seeds and sometimes he ‘ raids the market’ as he termed it, that is, by looking for the rejects that cannot be sold and buys them at a cheaper price.
Thuti is also on a zero-waste initiative where he plans on eradication of all plastic and inorganic waste in Laikipia County. He is making cabros from plastic waste as a recycling project where he is mixing biodegradable waste, graphite, plastic waste and crushed glass. He utilizes the waste that is deemed unrecyclable by recycling companies and combusts them in his locally made technology to make fine paste for cabros making.
My first paying job from this innovation is a project I implemented for NAWASCO to build a cabro pavement at their Nanyuki headquarters. Thuti says. He works in collaboration with the relevant authorities such as Nanyuki Water and Sewerage Company (NAWASCO) and also National Environment Management Authority(NEMA) and public health to ensure the smooth running of his projects and avoid conflict of interest. His main aim in starting this project is to ensure that Laikipia County is among the clean counties in terms of taking care of the dumpsite by utilizing biodegradable materials and also improving on the sanctuary of Laikipia county. He has visions of expanding this innovation from small scale to large scale and creating more employment opportunities for youths around and also obtaining a large market for his products.