Komaza is often asked the question: “Why do farmers join KOMAZA, when it is such a long term project? Don’t farmers have immediate needs like food security that they need assistance with today?” We sent out our Project Management Officer, Samson Francis Ngoba, to pose this question to our farmers. Here’s what he found:
Contrary to short term solutions, KOMAZA offers the farmers a long term investment in trees that will benefit generations to come. The trees issued to farmers can coppice and provide income up to 30 years without replanting. Remus from Chasimba appreciates the longevity of the project, saying, “Because it’s a long term project, [there will be] money in the future.”
2. Added benefits
The KOMAZA farmers get short term crop seeds that help them feed their families and generate income every season as they wait for the trees to mature. “KOMAZA project targets to uplift living standards of the locals. The short term crops serve as an immediate solution to life challenges,” says Mulungu from Dungicha location. The farmers also get free technical training from the excellent field extension network. This goes a long way in benefitting them in their other farming practices.
3. Conservation of habitats
The trees minimize the pressure being exerted on indigenous forests, such as charcoal burning and firewood, by offering sustainable fuel wood solutions. The indigenous forests are home to biodiversity that is of much importance to the locals. For example, the locals get medication and the forest serves as shrines for various cultural ceremonies. Fatuma from Mwahera location wants to put beehives in her tree farm. “I like forestry farming too since it has more income,” says Fatuma.
The economic practice in the area KOMAZA operates in constitutes of clearing forests and bushland to provide farming land. The farmers enroll in the programme to reintroduce beneficial vegetation whose maturity cycle will provide income in a short time as compared to the indigenous forests, and also attract rainfall for their short term crops. Kafedha from Bamba location gave three reasons for planting a KOMAZA tree farm: “Re-afforestation. To change the environment. To stop soil erosion.”
5. Communal participation and well being
By enrolling as KOMAZA farmers, the participants have a forum to meet their peers and exchange ideas, and create cohesive relationships amongst themselves. Since they are driven by the same endeavor (tree farming), they easily relate to one another and everyone has a sense of belonging. “My neighbors are doing this project and what I can see inspired me to join,” shares Saumu from Vitengeni location.
So these are 5 reasons why farmers say they join Komaza.
A final point from our Director of Operations highlights that if a farmer owns a large plot of land that is currently idle, then it’s to the farmer’s advantage to plant that acreage with a crop. Trees are a crop that makes sense from a labor intensity standpoint. For instance, one farmer with a hoe and no tractor can’t realistically take care of 20 acres of maize– it’s too labor intensive. Whereas trees can be planted once in 30 years and allowed to grow with relatively minimal care and maintenance. It makes productive use of the idle land for a small commitment in time but with a large future payoff.