Empowering Smallholder farmers to adopt Tea Tree Production for Improved livelihoods and Increased Climate change resilience

Empowering Smallholder farmers to adopt Tea Tree Production for Improved livelihoods and Increased Climate change resilience

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Kenya Organic Agriculture Network (KOAN) seeks to improve agricultural production and market systems for smallholder farmers in Laikipia county in Kenya. The projects' main goals are farmers' resilience improvement against climate change, household income generation and rural communities' livelihoods improvement. The project integrates farmers income generation and self-employment through the introduction of tea tree (a more climate resilient oil-based tree) cultivation and the adoption of organic agricultural technologies. The project proactively works with farmers to improve their production systems and link them to markets.

No Poverty , Zero Hunger , Empower smallholder farmers; connect them to markets , Build resilience of vulnerable to climate disasters , Decent Work and Economic Growth , Promote job-creation, entrepreneurial policies

Agriculture is the backbone of Kenya’s economy, representing 26 percent of its GDP and 60 percent of its exports earnings. Moreover, approximately 80 percent of the Kenyan population lives in rural areas, with three-quarters of them being poor. Among smallholder’s farmers, 70 percent are women. In recent years, the rainfall patterns have been most unreliable and unpredictable. Traditional farming practices and over-reliance on the same food crops that are not climate resilient is resulting in declining soil fertility and low levels of household income.

To address this challenge, in 2005 KOAN in partnership with Earth Oil introduced the Tea tree cultivation to farmers in Laikipia, Nyeri, and Meru County which has had a positive impact on the livelihoods of most farmers located in arid areas.  Tea tree, also called Melaleuca alternifolia, is native from the northeast coast of Australia and it is known for its antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties.  Tea tree has a good resilience towards climate change variations and dry weather conditions. Around 3000 Tea trees can be planted in a quarter acre of land and one can seasonally harvest up to four kilos per tree and sell it at Ksh10.50 per Kilogram. In these conditions, a farmer can make over Ksh.250,000 per acre a year, which is far beyond what most farmers are currently making with other agro-enterprises. The tree can also be intercropped with Desmodium for fodder and mulching purposes.

KOAN has helped farmers to expand the tea tree value chain while improving their production systems and market linkages. Specifically, KOAN trained groups of farmers on organic production, organic standards certification, and group governance. KOAN also facilitated linkages between farmers and the Earth Oil Ltd, who buy raw tree leaves and branches for Tea tree oil extraction and exportation to Bio Shop in the United Kingdom. Currently, KOAN is working with 521 farmers spread across those three counties.

Results Achieved

The adoption of organic technologies resulted in many benefits, such as the reduction on the use of synthetic pesticides and, consequently, soil and water pollution, increased soil's water retention and improved soil fertility and compaction.

A training on biochar making and utilization has been organized for the farmers. Biochar has been found to increase soil’s fertility and water retention capacity of the soil, especially in dry areas. From the preliminary findings on the demo Garden, 98 percent of Tea Tree seedlings planted with biochar did better than those planted without.

These new farming practices have created jobs for unskilled laborers, as they do not require farming experience. It also created jobs at Earth Oil, ranging from office administrators, accountants, community mobilizers, and trainers.

Beyond growing tea tree, farmers were also encouraged to diversify their crops and animal husbandry to promote food security. Given that the lands are located in areas prone to dry weather conditions, the farmers were encouraged to grow indigenous crops that can grow with little need of water, and that can produce within a short period of time. The increased land's productivity and utilization resulted in general livelihood improvement.

Farmers fairtrade certification resulted in many prize winnings. To administer the money earned in these competitions a social welfare group was created to build a social hall for the community. Part of the money is also been used to educate children of the less fortunate members of the community.


Earth Oil

Kenya Organic Agriculture Network (KOAN)

Strengthening Haitian-led development through knowledge exchanges and learning

Strengthening Haitian-led development through knowledge exchanges and learning

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The Konbit platform is a living and breathing tool to promote constructive and creative learning opportunities and exchange of ideas to assist in the building of a truly Haitian-led development pathway. By providing access to markets, networks, and information - this platform supports Konbit achieving its goal. By bringing together experts to address, discuss, and solve relevant development issues, we Haitian stakeholders can directly participate in and influence our country’s development.

Gender Equality , Ensure women’s participation, equal leadership opportunities , Ensure women’s equal rights to resources, inheritance , Enhance technology to promote women’s empowerment , Decent Work and Economic Growth , Promote diversification, technological upgrading and innovation , Promote job-creation, entrepreneurial policies , Strengthen capacity to expand banking access , Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure , Increase small-scale industrial enterprise access to financial services , Support technology development, research in developing countries , Increase access to information and communications technology , Reduced Inequalities , Empower, promote the inclusion of all , Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities , Ensure developing country representation in global decision-making , Partnerships for the Goals , Strengthen domestic resource mobilization , Promote learning on environmentally sound technologies , Operationalize mechanism on technology, innovation, capacity-building , Build capacity to support national plans , Encourage, promote public, private, civil society partnerships , Support increase of high-quality, timely data

Konbit is a network, physical and virtual, that aims to tackle three problems:

Access to Networks
Companies, organizations, and individuals working in Haiti have always been faced with the challenge of finding potential partners or service providers due to lack of centralized networks.

Access to Markets
It is very difficult and sometimes nearly impossible to access markets in Haiti, especially when looking for them from abroad or outside of the major cities. There is no centralized pool of information where one can find or post a request for proposals, large or small, pertaining to services or products in Haiti.

Access to Information
Research of valuable information is a major obstacle for businesses, students, or any interested party. There is a lot of research being done, but it usually ends up on a shelf and is never made available to the general public. Researchers are therefore undervalued, and the effort is not attractive to potential data collectors and analysts. Access to training material, procedures, best practices, and lessons learned is non-existent.

The physical Konbit network aims to address these issues through a series of conferences (information and market research) and events (networking) to physically bring people together in order to address the problems mentioned above.
The virtual Konbit network (Konbit.ht) aims to do the same thing, only without the burden of geographical boundaries. More specifically, it is an online platform built as a social network. This creates an environment where the uploading of data and information can grow with the community reached by the Konbit team.

The final outcome of this endeavor is that a community can be developed based on one primordial principal: Data-Based Decision Making.



Papyrus S.A.

Konbitht brochure.pdf

Restoring dryland ecosystems through agro ecological and permaculture best practices in Kenya

Restoring dryland ecosystems through agro ecological and permaculture best practices in Kenya

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Drylands Natural Resources Centre (DNRC) is a farmer cooperative which reaches over 3,000 people. The center mainly works on dryland ecosystem’s restoration through sustainable agricultural and agroforestry practices. Among its results are increased crop yields, improved soil and water resources, and income generation. DNRC also promotes social inclusion, local empowerment and community cohesion through training at DNRC’s demonstration farm.

No Poverty , Eradicate extreme poverty , Build resilience of vulnerable to climate disasters , Climate Action , Strengthen resilience, adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards , Improve learning, capacity on climate change measures , Build capacity for climate change planning, management , Life on Land , Conserve, restore, sustainably use terrestrial, freshwater ecosystems , Promote sustainable forest management, restoration, afforestation , Combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil , Reduce habitat degradation, halt biodiversity loss, extinction

Agricultural productivity has declined in many dryland areas in Kenya due to lighter, more erratic rainfall. This challenge forces farmers to over-exploit their farmland and harvest woodlands that historically stabilized regional soil and water features. Consequently, Kenya is suffering from increased soil’s erosion and depletion, and rivers draught. The result is a vicious cycle of environmental degradation and declining agricultural productivity. Moreover, dryland communities are often isolated, neglected, and poorly understood, with much of the burden falling on women and children.

DNRC delivers an ambitious program of long-term community engagement, in which families restore their land through the application of agricultural and agroforestry best practices. The main results are increased crop yields, soil and water resources improvement, and valuable tree products generation.

To be eligible for the program, farmers must have completed a training program, developed an agroforestry plan with DNRC, and prepared the land to receive saplings. DNRC sells surplus saplings to nearby communities, what helps to provide revenues for DNRC and contribute to regional reforestation. To date, DNRC has planted over 500,000 trees and paid 10 cents for each planted tree.

DNRC’s large-scale impact over the years is evident in the recent expansion of the Katende forest area, adjacent to Mbumbuni. This result was a consequence of decreased Illegal forest logging for timber and firewood, which was popular in the past. Thanks to DNRC’s operations, farmers have now access to woodlots for sustainable production of firewood to preserve forest resources.

DNRC has also shared its learnings with Komaza, a large and fast-growing forestry enterprise in Kenya. It also hosted visits to various research institutions, and worked to best utilize the valuable data DNRC has collected. Moreover, international organizations such as fastenopfer and Troicare Kenya have brought their partner organizations farmers to learn and benchmark their activities with DNRC successful story.

Progress to Date

DNRC is currently working with 600 households (about 3,600 people), organized into community thirteen groups—eleven of which are led by women. DNRC is also working with six schools, with an average of 300 students each, thus reaching a total of 1,800 students. Over the last ten years, the program has grown from 27 households to the current 600 households.

Key DNRC programs and projects include:

·       Tree Nursery: the nursery grew from 5,000 tree seedlings per year to the current 70,000 seedlings each year. So far we have disseminated over 800,000 tree seedlings to farmers and the surrounding six schools. The trees have then been planted in the community. The trees seedlings consist of over 30 different local trees species, which are planted in a food forest set up. The impact of this initiative is evident from the improved microclimates and firewood and green charcoal pruned from the older, more mature trees.

·       Member Training: DNRC staff have been training smallholder farmers and their families in dryland agroforestry and food forests as well as promoting community cohesion, empowerment, and shared learning through regular formal training at the DNRC demonstration farm, focus groups, farm visits and educational programs and open days. These 600 households meet weekly with local neighbors, and have bi-annual gatherings, where members meet, cook, eat, dance and share their experiences to strengthen the community fabric and bring the culture back through music and dances.

·       Rain Water Harvesting: DNRC has installed 90 water cisterns of 10,000 litre capacity in schools and households. They provide clean, secure, and continuously available drinking water to over 1,500 children and their parents. Cisterns are allocated by lottery from households in good standing with DNRC and installed using solidary groups so as to strengthen the sense of community.

·       Income Generation: DNRC employs a cooperative model to process and sell green charcoal and moringa products (a healthful tree-based food supplement) on behalf of its member farmers as a source of income. DNRC also trains its members in business development, including handmade baskets and carvings among the farmers.

·       Food Security: DNRC promotes agro-ecological food production with emphasis on indigenous, nutritious, and local foods.

·       Fostering Culture. DNRC has begun traditional Kamba (the local ethnic group) construction methods to build accommodations for visitors, interns, and volunteers. These spaces will also serve as a venue for recording traditional songs and folktales from the community, and to promote traditional foods, crafts, and lifestyles.


crowdfunding through global giving and friends

Drylands Natural Resources Centre (DNRC)

Strengthen capacity of local companies in Haiti

Shared by: Gilles Sassine , Development Innovation Network Lead - Konbit, Papyrus, Haiti

In Haiti, companies struggle to compete for large internationally funded projects due to local project implementation barriers to the detriment of local actors and funders alike: local companies lack the systems to take on larger projects, which are subsequently awarded to foreign implementers at a higher cost, with significantly less money circulating in the local economy, and limited opportunities for local capacity development. 

This situation creates a vicious cycle where the local eco-system incurs two major losses:
-    a high percentage of development funds are charged as overhead and therefore not spent in-country. Local companies are hired as subcontractors, many times with subpar gains in terms of funds and capacity development.
-    While there are increased efforts on the part of international implementers to share and impart  knowledge, it is not always carried out. Many programs end up paying for the same data sets because information is not shared, and local actors cannot build on their past experiences to improve their operations. 

To break this cycle, organizations must constantly improve their technical and administrative capabilities such that they can both compete against each other for relatively smaller projects and work in partnership for larger bids, thereby constantly increasing the scale and complexity of projects that can be locally implemented.

Local development partners, private and public, do not have a sufficiently influential and unified voice in programs design. This leads to waste due to lack of communication and a duplication of efforts, as was seen following the 2010 earthquake.

Furthermore, the lack of a shared knowledge base leads to repeated mistakes and stifled growth. Local service providers have little means to learn from international entities in order to play a significant role in the development of their own country.

USAID-Haiti has invested in Local Solutions through its Konbit project awarded in 2015.

Konbit’s goal is to increase the number of local development partners influencing and achieving significant and sustainable development results in Haiti, accountable to their constituents and able to effectively compete for and manage resources. The project has already launched an online platform (Konbit.ht) that aims to improve access to networks, markets, and information.

 In order to make this effort truly sustainable, the donor community, national and international governments, and the private sector at large should collaborate on two fronts:

  • Use technology to connect existing online platforms in order to openly share data collected through implemented programs. This would reduce duplication of effort as well as mistakes made due to lack of information. By creating a data driven decision making environment, efforts will have a greater impact and reduce the need for aid.

Create a Systems Thinking Framework that promotes standards. This will reduce the need for international entities to execute projects in Haiti, resulting in increased funds and knowledge in country. Ultimately, the Haitian community will be in a better position to determine its own development.

Decent Work and Economic Growth , Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure , Reduced Inequalities , Sustainable Cities and Communities , Partnerships for the Goals

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