Sesbania sesban is native to the Asian countries of India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines but also grows widely in Africa.
Also known as hummingbird tree, it is grown across Africa, from Senegal in the west to Somalia, Egypt and South Africa.
In Kenya, it grows in ecological zones ranging from altitudes of 350m to 1,900m above sea level and annual rainfalls of between 400mm and more than 1,400mm.
It is common in riverine vegetation and the margins of fresh water lakes like Naivasha and Baringo and in many seasonal swamps.
Before I learned that Acacia xanthophloea also withstands waterlogging, Sesbania was the only tree that grew on the part of my farm in Soy that is swampy.
According to A Guide to Tree Planting in Kenya, a publication of the Kenya Forestry Research Institute, any species selected must be able to fulfil the objectives for planting it.
These include soil and water conservation, improvement of soil fertility (supply of mulching material and green manure), animal fodder, shade and saleable products such as fruits, medicine, firewood and charcoal, timber for construction, pulp and craft materials.
Sesbania ticks many of these boxes although its potential has not been fully exploited in Kenya, unlike in its native Asian lands.
The tree improves soils by fixing nitrogen and its leaves form green manure. It does well as a cover for crops such as turmeric, ginger and vines.
Some studies have found that one-year fallow with this tree can increase maize yields from two to four tonnes per hectare without the application of nitrogen fertiliser.
But according to Useful Trees and Shrubs for Kenya by P. Maundu and B. Tengnas (World Agroforestry Centre), Sesbania harbours root-knot nematodes.
Consequently, it should be avoided in combination with crops that are sensitive to nematodes like bananas and potatoes.
The nutritional benefits of Sesbania make it an important constituent of any diet and this has been fully exploited in Asia.
It is one of the best options for getting vitamins B1, C, phosphorous and iron as studies have shown one cup of Sesbania leaf juice consists high amounts of these minerals vital for the body.
In India, young leaves, flowers and pods are used in curries and soups, lightly fried, steamed or boiled. The tender pods are cooked similarly to other green beans.
The leaves, young green pods and flowers are eaten alone as a vegetable. Its seeds are high in protein (33.7 per cent).
Sesbania sesban foliage is used as fodder for cattle, goats and sheep. A study, Sesbania sesban as a fodder tree in Ethiopian livestock farming systems, published in Livestock Science, attests to its suitability for animals.
Sesbania was introduced in the Ethiopian highlands for livestock feed and soil conservation. The study showed that supplementation with Sesbania improved intake and digestibility of basal diet and growth rate of animals.
It assessed farmers’ feeding practices and their perception about effects of Sesbania supplementation on sheep performance.
It revealed that farmers perceived increased lamb birth weight and body weight gain, earlier onset of puberty and improved pregnancy rate of ewes and rams’ libido.
Sesbania is important in traditional medicine. Various parts of the tree, studies show, are used in the treatment of illnesses like rheumatism, leprosy, gout and liver disorders.
Bark, roots, leaves, gum and flowers are used in treatment of anaemia, bronchitis, fever and ulceration of the tongue and alimentary tract.
In the indigenous system of medicine in India, Sesbania bark is also used to cure diarrhoea, snakebites, dysentery, malaria, smallpox and scabies.
A tea made from the leaves is believed to have antibiotic properties. A number of herbalists have come to my Soy farm to harvest parts of this tree.
Sesbania is a key source of firewood. The trunks may be used for light construction and have been used as poles for temporary shelters and sheds.
However, they do not last long as they are vulnerable to insect attacks. In India, it is used in pulpwood production.
Propagation is by direct sowing at site or wilding. Seeds cost Sh1,500 a kilogramme at Kenya Forest Research Institute seed shops.
They require pre-sowing treatment to soften the hard coat for faster germination. This is done by soaking in hot water for 12 – 24 hours. The tree is fast-growing and matures in about three years.
World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021
World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.
“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.
He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.
The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.
People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.
For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.
Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.
“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.
Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.
“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”
According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.
Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans
The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.
Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.
Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.
Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options.
This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.
The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.
The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.
The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).
The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.
The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour; Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).
The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.
Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”
He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.