on May 07, 2013
Komaza is excited to share photos of our current April 2013 planting season. This season we embark on planting our first 10 mahogany (melia volkensii) tree farms. We are diversifying beyond our flagship eucalyptus into this indigenous, drought-resistant, termite-resistant tree. It has been a difficult tree to germinate from seed and our Nursery team had gotten frustrated. Nonetheless, diligently experimenting with new techniques since October 2012, they’ve finally “cracked the nut” and achieved germination success rates above 90% (higher than any previously established rate in the industry)! The nursery germinated enough seeds to plant 196 trees on each farm. We share with you the planting day pictures from the first farm.
Melia volkensii requires larger potting soil bags than eucalyptus seedlings so we used these wooden crates to transport the seedlings to the farm.
The truck was loaded with both eucalyptus seedlings and the wooden crates of melia volkensii.
Field Officer in Mwahera location, Francisco Mwayele, shows the farmer, Raphael Wepukulu, how to carefully remove the potting bag from the roots of the seedling.
The farmer’s wife, Ruth Nafula Kundu, receives instruction from Mwahera sub-location Facilitator, Thomas Mwananje, on how to remove the seedling with care.
Francisco and Raphael place the first seedling into the ground.
Thomas and Raphael fill the hole with dirt and pack it firmly around the seedling.
Raphael gives the new seedling plenty of water.
Raphael and Ruth are proud to be the first Komaza farmers to successfully plant a melia volkensii farm. They have done such a good job with their eucalyptus trees (as seen in the background) that Komaza was happy to give them an opportunity to plant melia volkensii.
on Mar 21, 2013
As Komaza endeavors to expand its nursery operation into a profit center, we have diversified into tree species besides eucalyptus. The third tree species we have begun germinating is the coconut.
Coconut trees outside the Komaza office in Kilifi.
After attending training at Kenya Coconut Development Authority (KCDA), Komaza is now a certified nursery operator and has its first contract to supply KCDA with 5000 coconut seedlings in June. We have been busy sourcing for high-quality seed nuts. Our field officer, Erastus Jefwa Lazaro, has been able to source these seeds direct from Komaza farmers who also own coconut trees in addition to the eucalyptus trees.
Erastus loads coconut seed nuts into the truck for transport to Komaza’s nursery.
Once transported to the nursery, the seed nuts are offloaded into a pile where the nursery staff sort and organize them.
Juma, our nursery/Demo Farm attendant, sorts and organizes the seeds.
Some of the seeds still need to dry out for a week before planting but once dried they are prepped for planting.
Juma and Erastus prepare the seeds for planting
The seeds are planted in orderly rows to maximize output per hectare.
Coconut seeds awaiting the rains in orderly rows.
With rains having started this past week, yesterday saw the first sprout popping its leaves out of the shell. It is the first coconut tree we have ever produced.
The demand for coconuts in coastal Kenya will outpace our supply this first season but we hope to build on the season’s successes and continue expanding next season.
on Mar 11, 2013
Komaza is privileged to have many fantastic field staff who work very hard to support our farmers. In fact, many staff believe in the model so deeply that they too become farmers and plant trees on their own land. One example is our Field Manager, Alfred Kiti. He is a such a proponent of the model that he planted 256 trees on his property in the short rains 2012 planting season.
Alfred checks on the health of one of his eucalyptus trees.
When asked why he decided to plant a Komaza farm, Alfred said, “I wanted to set an example for the people in my community.” He explained that when the leaders in a community are seen to be doing something, then everyone else will follow. He wanted to show his neighbors that the project works rather than just tell them.
As we wandered amongst the trees, an older gentleman approached us. Alfred introduced this man as his father and another Komaza farmer.
Alfred Kiti with his father, Kiti Chonga, on their co-planted farm.
Alfred pointed out that there were actually 512 trees on this farm because he’d co-planted with his dad. “That’s fantastic!” I said. Alfred’s father, Kiti Chonga, helps to weed and care for the trees while also attending to the family’s livestock. For the Kiti household, Komaza farming is truly a family affair.
Alfred is pleased with how well his trees are growing despite the tenacity of weeds.
on Feb 20, 2013
In 2011 Komaza executed a trial tree-thinning operation with a handful of farmers in Tezo. We knew the trees would re-grow as coppices after cutting them and that’s indeed what’s been happening for 2 years. Some of the coppices are already as tall as the original trees! The following photo shows one of our Tezo farmers, Pahe Kaingu, standing next to her original trees planted in 2008.
Komaza thinned 30% of her farm and she is pictured standing next to some of those thinned trees.
This farmer made use of her coppices by cutting some and building a new house for herself.
She built the pictured mud house 3 months ago. The house features palm frond roofing and mud walls.
But a close-up of the mud walls reveals that the mud is attached to wood framing. The wood framing is the coppiced Komaza trees! Quite an impressive feat of engineering, don’t you agree?!