Home » Marriages under threat as Mukombero shortage bites

Marriages under threat as Mukombero shortage bites

by Paul Nyongesa
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Kakamega Forest, nestled in the heart of Kenya, is a true gem of nature’s bounty. As we trekked through its majestic landscape, the fresh organic scent filled the air, and we marveled at the towering trees with their knotted arms reaching high into the sky.

The crackly grasses beneath our feet were a reminder of the ongoing dry spell, but amidst this natural wonder, we discovered something unique – the yellowish root known as Mukombero.

Mukombero, also known as White’s ginger or Mondia Whitei, is an essential part of the local culture, particularly in Western Kenya, where it is revered for its aphrodisiac properties. For centuries, this root has been believed to arouse sexual instincts and enhance sexual performance, making it a sought-after commodity for those seeking to improve their intimate relationships.

Traditionally, Mukombero was harvested sustainably from Kakamega Forest and local farms. However, the uncontrolled logging and felling of trees in the forest have led to a decline in the availability of this precious herb.

Martin Ongaya, a hawker from Nairobi, shared his struggle to find Mukombero during our journey through the forest. The destruction of the forest’s delicate ecosystem has disrupted the natural growth of Mukombero, putting the livelihoods of many hawkers like Martin at risk.

The situation worsened when the nationwide ban on logging in public forests was lifted by President William Ruto. While this decision aimed to support the local timber industry and address the issue of rotting mature trees, it inadvertently affected the availability of Mukombero.

Nelson Mutala, another Mukombero hawker, spoke of his difficulties sourcing the herb and how he now had to import it from Uganda at a higher cost.

The consequences of the Mukombero shortage are not limited to economic hardships; they extend to the very fabric of relationships within the community.

Kakamega town resident, Newton Otenyo, expressed how Mukombero had improved his relationship with his wife. According to local elders and medical practitioners, Mukombero’s properties have been beneficial in treating erectile dysfunction and enhancing sexual desire, thanks to its rich composition of vitamins and minerals.

Alice Harambe, a Senior Nursing Officer at Kakamega County Teaching and Referral Hospital, stated that people using Mukombero have reported positive effects on their sexual desire and function. Traditional herbalist, Isaac Misiko, affirmed the herb’s power in improving sexual health, enhancing brain function, and boosting body immunity.

However, the scarcity of Mukombero due to unsustainable harvesting practices poses a threat to the delicate balance of Kakamega Forest’s biodiversity.

The herb thrives in the natural environment of the forest and is now becoming rare as a result of overharvesting. The lack of proper replanting and conservation efforts by non-experts has led to a decline in Mukombero’s growth, further exacerbating the issue.

To preserve both the precious herb and the fragile ecosystem of Kakamega Forest, sustainable logging practices must be implemented. Regulated logging, with a focus on replanting and maintaining biodiversity, can ensure the continuous growth of Mukombero while providing a sustainable livelihood for local communities.

Additionally, educating the public about the importance of responsible harvesting and the potential risks of overexploitation is crucial.

By raising awareness about the significance of Mukombero to the local culture and the environment, communities can unite to protect this valuable resource for future generations.

Government support and collaboration with local communities and experts are vital in achieving these goals. Initiatives aimed at promoting sustainable agriculture, conservation, and eco-tourism can help strike a balance between economic growth and environmental protection.

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