Seed balls of African indigenous seed species suitable for the Nairobi region of Kenya are being tested for their potential growth rates.
Photo: © Verenardo Meeme, SciDevNet


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Plastic bags are known to disrupt the environment. For instance, once in the soil, they slowly release toxic chemicals. When animals eat them, they often choke and die.

Kenya recently banned the use of plastic bags. And thanks to a 34-year old Kenyan, Teddy Kinyanjui, an innovative afforestation and reforestation method for developing seedlings without using plastic bags is in place. He is working in partnership with Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI), which certifies seeds.

Kinyanjui, a resident of Nairobi, Kenya, and founder of the charcoal business Cookswell Jikos Limited, has invented portable small seed balls for easy dispersal. Kinyanjui’s idea is to use seed balls instead of the usual plastic bags to grow seedlings. Seeds require nutrition to grow. He has engineered a method of coating each seed with charcoal dust and corn or cassava starch, so that a tiny ball is formed. The coating protects the seed from being eaten up and from pests and diseases.

Kinyanjui says he has the capacity to make one tonne of seed balls a day. So far, since the project’s initiation in 2016, about one million seed balls of different certified indigenous tree species have been dispersed throughout Kenya through partnerships with locals.

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