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 Feb 08, 2013
Over the past six years Komaza has continued to plant fast-maturing Eucalyptus hybrids with over 4500 farmers. Developed by Mondi forests of South Africa, the hybrids were first introduced in Kenya by Tree Biotechnology project (TBP) in partnership with other stakeholders as a technology transfer initiative that was aimed at ensuring the superior plantlets reached the Kenyan population easily.
With all the qualities that gives it an edge over other dryland tree species (most notably the fast maturity and the hardiness ),it is paramount that the propagation process be carefully undertaken and high standards of quality control put in place to ensure that the resultant plants are TRUE TO TYPE (clones- bearing the same qualities as the mother plant).
With the growth that Komaza is going through and the envisioned expansion, it will be a costly affair to continue purchasing the Eucalyptus hybrids seedlings. The organisation has set plans to have a propagation facility with a capacity to produce 5 million plantlets annually. A lot has been done towards the attainment of this goal, notably: the training of attendants, acquisition of land and the development of a site masterplan for the envisioned facility. A model nursery facility is already in operation producing plantlets for replacement planting for our farmers.
So, how is the propagation done to ensure quality plantlets for our farmers….?
Selected superior plantlets are planted on a plot and allowed to grow for about one year.
After growing for one year the stem will have matured and attained a khakish colour.It is at this stage that the trees are cut back to stimulate growth of multiple lateral branches(coppices).
A cutting ready to go to the potting shed.
The coppices are then selected and cut into smaller pieces (cuttings) and leaf surface area reduced.All the time they are kept in containers holding fungicide.
A cutting like this will become a seedling and ultimately a new tree.
The cuttings are then placed in tubes held in a 1 metre by 10 metre bed after the application of a rooting hormone at the base.
The plantlets are free to grow into seedlings at this point.
The bed is then covered with a polythene sheet and routine maintenance done weekly for a period of 40 days.
After 40 days the cutting will have developed roots and are sorted. They are allowed to elongate further for a period of three months before being planted in the fields.
The resultant plantation grows uniformly and thus offers the advantage of clear felling during harvesting besides a number of other advantages during the establishment and management.
on Nov 01, 2012
Rainy season is an exciting time at KOMAZA. This past month has been no exception. With 1,981 farmers signed up to plant with us during these short rains, it’s been our biggest planting season ever. There’s a lot of work that went into logistics and distribution to so many farmers. When development experts talk about last-mile distribution being a challenge, this is the challenge we took on.
Staff at the nursery assisted in loading each of three trucks used for delivering seedlings.
The driver and nursery staff ensured that each tray was packed nicely to minimize tranport damage.
We ferried the trees to some very remote, off-the-beaten-path places.
Komaza staff accounted for each tray of seedlings before giving them to farmers for planting. Each farmer received 256 trees, equivalent to 2 trays of seedlings.
Even the farmers’ children took part in carrying seedlings to their family farms.
The farmers have worked hard to prepare sites like this one by clearing the land, digging holes, and gathering mulch. The next step is planting!
on Oct 17, 2012
One of KOMAZA’s competitive advantages is our farmer extension network (FEN). With 90 staff members who directly support over 6000 farmers, we can reach thousands of hard-to-reach farmers with beneficial products that they’d otherwise have difficulty accessing. It has been a dream of our founder, Tevis Howard, to use our FEN in exactly this way. We are happy to report that KOMAZA has finally taken the first step in this direction.
Last month Komaza tested the D.Light S250 product—a solar-powered lantern and phone charger. Our staff & farmers were delighted with its ease of use, its functionality and its price point. Having negotiated a substantial discount off the retail price, KOMAZA will pass all the savings directly to our farmers. Eager to take advantage of this offer, our staff already purchased 50 pieces last week.
Kennedy, one of our Field Managers, trains his FEN staff on the proper use of their new lanterns.
Sebastien and Benson, both FEN Facilitators in Vitengeni, are excited to get their lanterns home so they can start saving money on kerosene fuel for lighting.