On the 1st of September 2015, three students from SIDshare’s committee and a staff member travelled to the Kilimanjaro Region, Tanzania to meet KEDA (Kilimanjaro Environmental Development Association). KEDA was established in 1992, and since then it has run a number of environmental and social projects including: educating local farmers about the benefits of organic agriculture; training in irrigation, soil and environmental conservation.
By Joanna Moody
The ‘Tree Nursery Project’ was created by KEDA as a livelihood creation project for economically vulnerable community members. This project aimed to provide training for local people on soil conservation, irrigation and ownership of trees or tree nurseries. Alongside this KEDA provided seeds for start up businesses. The project not only acts as an income generating business, but also improves local soil quality and contributes to environmental conservation in the area.
Stella, a tree nursery owner has worked with KEDA since 1995. KEDA provided opportunities for her, and others like her, through training on tree nursery ownership, including using efficient irrigation techniques and education on grafting for fruit trees. Grafting can mean that fruit is produced more quickly, skipping the juvenile phase and therefore speeding up fruiting. This training offered by KEDA has meant that Stella is able to look after a growing number of tree seedlings successfully, producing high quality products for profit. Stella told us she has increased her income by over 100% since starting the project with KEDA. This has given her and her family an improved quality of life by providing school fees for her 5 children, the eldest of whom is now training in finance and accountancy.
As a result of KEDA’s training Stella has been able to make her business self-sufficient. She has now become an expert in tree nursery ownership with growing demand for her high quality seedlings. Stella now helps KEDA’s training schemes herself. By passing the knowledge she gained from KEDA to others who are interested in this form of income generation, she is helping others to also be successful. Stella’s business has been independent for the last 15 years and has grown exponentially in this time. She sells over ten thousand seedlings annually; making a profit of 5 to 6 million Tanzanian shillings (nearly £2000) this year alone. Stella’s customers travel from as far as Dar Es Salaam and even internationally from Kenya to buy her plants. This shows how successful her business has become. She has come from starting out as KEDA’s trainee to one of the best known tree nursery experts in this part of Tanzania.
Whilst tree planting already contributes to local environmental improvement, Stella also recycles litter as part of her business. As advised by KEDA she collects plastic sheeting from the local area and recycles it to use as seedling pots. This not only means that there is less litter nearby but it also saves her money on shop bought seedling pots and reduces the amount of waste created.
KEDA has also provided training for beneficiaries and seedlings for planting in schools to improve the local environment. KEDA now has around 15 beneficiaries including the local Meresini primary and secondary schools. Trees are used to improve soil quality with roots creating more compact soil to resist erosion particularly in the windy climate of the lowland areas. They also provide shade for extra classroom space and meeting places for parents in schools, whilst fruit trees can be used as a source of nutrition and income as well as trees for timber.
In the future KEDA hopes to start a small tree nursery in the field centre to have a sustainable supply of seedlings to donate them to the local community, continuing environmental improvement.