Better Globe Forestry (BGF) has developed a model to encourage farmers to become out growers in the buffer zones around its plantations. The company started an interesting out growers experiment in the buffer zone of Sosoma.
In a pilot project, BGF assists farmers in Nguni Division (Mwingi East District) to establish mukau (Melia volkensii) woodlots. The people in the area appreciate mukau for the quality of its wood and for its fast growth. By the end of the three-year trial project, 150 hectares will be established with 100 farmers as beneficiaries.
These farmers are recruited from the community around Mboti Primary School in Mbuvu Location, Nguni Division of East Mwingi District. However, since no permanent source of water is available in the area, which is semi-arid, a borehole was drilled to supply water for both the community (and its livestock), the school and the tree nursery. Community members formed a water users' association (WUA) to act as the local water service supplier that would run the borehole and sell the water. Unfortunately, the borehole was dry. However, other alternatives for water are being explored.
The tree-growers become members of a micro finance institution (K-Rep Financial Services), established with the support of BGF for creating a virtuous cycle of tree-growing.
The cost of a one-hectare woodlot works out as follows:
The grant is in kind, not in cash. The 1/3 payment for the micro-finance institution has to be reinvested in further woodlot establishment. The farmer agrees to sell the future logs exclusively to BGF through a contract that guarantees a market at a fair and competitive price.
BGF employs a forest technician to ensure adequate follow-up not only of establishment but also of maintenance of the woodlots. The tree-planting is accompanied by sowing of a short-term cash crop, green grams, to assist the farmer secure immediate and continuous income until the tree sales can start.
Training on tree-planting and maintenance, management of the outgrowers' SACCO and the WUA is an essential component of this project.
Correct pricing of water will be critical for the success of the project.