In 2006, BGF Ltd started a pilot project for a first major tree plantation of 5,000 hectares in the area around Kiambere Dam on the Tana River. The land belongs to Tana and Athi Rivers Development Authority (TARDA). The area has a very high unemployment rate with over 65% of the people classified as among the absolute poor.
In 2008, Better Globe Forestry Ltd signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Sosoma Ranching Cooperative Society (SRS) for the industrial afforestation of 60,705 hectares of land with indigenous tree species. The document is further under-signed by the then District Commissioner and the District Co-operative Officer, both representing the Kenya Government. The species targeted in this challenging area is today also Melia volkensii (mukau). Implementation of the plantation has been delayed in order to overcome some legal-administrative and technical challenges but all is being done in this respect and the project is still very much alive although delayed.
In 2012, Better Globe Forestry and the Witu-Nyongoro Ranching Society signed a lease agreement according to which 21,500 hectares are being planted with mukau. Moreover, thousands of grafted mango trees were also planted at the site as a way of diversification and as a cash crop.
In 2015, BGF started encouraging farmers in Eastern Province to become outgrowers through agro-forestry practices, using Mukau as a tree to inter crop with what is planted traditionally. A contractual agreement has already been signed with hundreds of farmers. They provide land on their farms for BGF to plant trees and they receive from BGF to plant and maintain for themselves.BGF commits to buy their trees at maturity.
Equally the same year 2015, the Kengen Foundation has made BGF a formal partner in its GIC (Green Initiative Challenge) Expansion project through an MOU for a duration of 10 years. This public/private partnership (PPP) plays a vital role in the development of vital resources and skills sharing for diversification and promotion of communities’ livelihoods. The Kengen Foundation has also given BGF the green light for starting another pilot project on land belonging to Kengen (Kenya Electricity Generating Company Ltd.) that will lead, when all legal administrative requirements are met to an afforestation project in the area of seven forks.
BGF has a long history of positive interactions with Kengen, starting in 2006.
BGF ltd, supported by top experts in agro-forestry, is providing consulting, implementation and training services in different fields related to agro-forestry. For this purpose, the company has an established forestry and agricultural test and training centre in Kibwezi. This model drylands farm is excelling in integrated farming techniques for drylands with emphasis on tree planting, water management and soil fertility for increased productivity. Water management and the efficient use of water are demonstrated through a variety of techniques including low-pressure drip irrigation for fruits and vegetables.
All the BGF Ltd. projects are situated in arid and semi-arid lands (ASAL) and it will establish the processing industry for the generated raw material in the immediate surroundings of the plantations as the inputs will come from its own plantations and the products of the farmer’s efforts. All the BGF projects are the start of a large scale tree growing and wood processing industry in East Africa, the first of its kind in ASAL and a formidable provider of employment.Trials are being done through professional highly qualified carpenters and wood workers in order to test all the characteristics and possibilities of the Melia. The results are excellent.
The micro-propagation facility project
In-vitro multiplication of Melia volkensii, a tree species which is part of the Mahogany family and indigenous to East-Africa, will happen in a mass-propagation facility set up by Better Globe Forestry Ltd. in collaboration with the University of Ghent in Belgium, the University of Nairobi and KEFRI (Kenya Forestry Research Institute) who all are working at finalising existing in-vitro research into a workable protocol to be used on industrial scale. A bio-pesticide based on M. volkensii extracts under development by KEFRI is also been researched. Capacity building and exchange of academic knowledge is enhanced by training/research stays of Kenyan researchers in Belgium. The project received a boost through the allocation of some research money by the Belgian Flemish Government.
Cooperation between Better Globe Forestry Ltd and the Ghent University College dates back to 2007. Several Belgian students have been send to Kenya yearly to make an MSc thesis. There work concentrated on silviculture and multiplication of Melia, including research on in-vitro at the University of Nairobi. The University of Nairobi participated in the local follow-up of students, while it also stimulated research & extension of Melia.BGF has active working MOUs with UON, KEFRI and UGent.
Today, in 2016 the Better Globe Forestry Foundation has been officially registered, allowing BGF to manage its substantial CSR programme through a separate, transparent and professional entity.