News Release

Elder Ian Ardern and Brother Denis Mukasa Interviewed on Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC)  Morning Radio Program on Friday, 8 December 2023

KBC Radio Host Julia Wanjiku discusses Trees for Food with Africa Central Area President Elder Ian Ardern and with Denis Mukasa, Regional Humanitarian Services Manager in Africa Central Area on 8 December 2023.

On Friday Morning, 8 December 2023, leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were interviewed on KBC Radio. Africa Central Area President Elder Ian Ardern, and Church Regional Humanitarian Services Manager Denis Mukasa were guests on Julia Wanjiku’s morning nationwide radio program to discuss the Church sponsored program Trees for Food. Julia began the interview by asking what the motivation behind Trees for Food was.  Elder Ardern responded, “the motivation is to care for people. We are a Church that has a deep belief that while we care for people spiritually, we’ve got to look to their temporal needs as well.  So, we have embarked on a long-term endeavor to ensure that people can be nourished by trees.  It is Trees for Food.”  Elder Ardern explained that Trees for Food has been an ongoing initiative of the Church for the past few years.  The current roll out includes 200,000 fruit tree seedlings to be planted in Kajiado, Makueni, Homa Bay, Garissa, Uasin Gishu and Tharaka Nithi counties in Kenya.

Julia mentioned the nationwide priority to plant trees and expressed concern that trees that are planted and not nurtured provide no societal benefit. Elder Ardern shared that the Church is collaborating with various community partners to ensure that these 200,000 fruit trees are nourished, grow to maturity, and produce food for people.  Denis noted that for this project the Church is working with the National Ministry of Interior to identify the counties and the beneficiaries whereby these trees will be distributed.

In reply to the question, “what are some success stories?” Denis replied, “we have seen success stories across the country of people being able to provide for their daily nutritional needs. Beyond that it goes toward providing income. When they grow food, they have extra harvests, and they use that to sell so that they can have income.  That truly has boosted the economic capacity for families to take care of their needs.”  Elder Ardern pointed out that we have planted lemon, orange, mango, banana, and avocado trees.  Taking just the example of mango trees, one mango tree, when mature, will produce 100 KG per year of fruit. The Church has planted 26,500 mango trees which will produce 2,650 tonnes of mangoes per year.  The Church has planted 45,000 orange trees. Each tree will produce 80 KG of oranges at maturity which totals 3,600 tonnes of oranges per year.  The trees planted during Trees for Food will take time to mature. “It’s going to take time,” Elder Ardern said, “but, if we do not start now, when do we start? We must look to our tomorrow. We have the vision; we have the plan, and we have the people willing to work the plan.”

Denis provided details of the roll outs of the planting explaining that specific types of trees will be planted where they are most likely to flourish and with partners who will care for the trees and bring them to maturity.  “What exactly do you want the churches and other faith-based organizations in Kenya to know about this initiative?”  inquired Julia. “As a Church and a people, we have been entrusted by Heavenly Father to replenish the earth, to take care of it, to nurture it.  This is our mandate as a people, to answer that call. Also, food security is one of the major challenges our country is facing. In 2014, African governments met and committed to end hunger by 2025…this project is a very big step toward achieving that goal. We want the public to know that the Church is here to help in addressing food insecurity, to help in addressing malnutrition, and to help in combatting climate change,” responded Denis. Elder Ardern asserted, “for us, as The Church of Jesus of Christ of Latter-day Saints, we care for this country. We want to keep it clean. It is Care, Clean and Cultivate. We feel that we have a responsibility to Cultivate this beautiful land…we can do so much with this red earth of Africa and the climate so that people can be nourished.”

As the interview concluded Julia asked, “if this initiative is fully embraced by Kenya and other African countries in terms of food security, where will we likely see this continent in the next decade or so.”  Elder Ardern responded, “my vision is a shared vision - that malnourished children will be a thing of the past and food hunger will be diminished significantly.  We want to collaborate with other organizations that want to be engaged in eliminating malnutrition and food poverty.  Part of this initiative is about helping families be able to get their children nourished. A nourished child is a happy child, and will become better educated, and will thereby become a contributing member of society.  We think Trees for Food is an effective way to go.”  And then he added, “you have a gracious people here (in Kenya), and a delightful land. We are so pleased as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be part of caring for this beautiful creation of God.”

The whole interview can be watched at (20+) Video | Facebook

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