Josephine Masha is a school teacher and a KOMAZA farmer. She lives in Ganze District with her four sons and one daughter. After four years of careful maintenance, Josephine's KOMAZA trees have grown tall and strong, and she is already planning to spend the money from harvest on putting her youngest son, Lucky, through university.
Erastus Jefwa Lazaro
Erastus Jefwa Lazaro is a KOMAZA farmer who was hired as a Facilitator because of his hard work. As one of the first KOMAZA farmers to harvest trees, Erastus has earned enough money to install electricity in his home. Soon after the harvest his trees began to regrow, promising income for his family for years - or even decades - to come.
Ruth & Raphael Wanyonyi
Ruth and Raphael Wanyonyi live in Kenya's Ganze District with their children Frieda, Moses, and Rasoa. Ruth and Raphael each manage a KOMAZA tree plot; the family also grows maize and cassava, and raise chickens, goats, and guinea fowl. Like many of our farmers, the Wanyonyis plan to spend money from their tree harvest on their children's education.
Sylvia Samson Thoya
Sylvia Samson Thoya lives with her mother and four children on her family’s farm. She was born on this homestead and so was her father. Her grandfather might have been too, she does not know. Sylvia has four sisters and seven brothers, but they have all moved out to work in nearby towns. She’s been left to take care of her elderly mother, the land and her children.
Sylvia’s day is busy. She wakes up at sunrise to prepare breakfast and get her children ready for school. After they leave, she cleans the house and the homestead. She washes clothes and fetches water – a task that involves carrying a bucket to a small lake some 500 meters away, and returning with the heavy bucket balanced carefully on her head.
Sylvia then prepares lunch, and after eating with her mother she spends her afternoon working on the farm. This work varies by the day and season, but is invariably labor-intensive, dirty and hot. Every day she moves her goats from one grazing area to another and tours her family’s land to collect scare firewood.
As her children come home, Sylvia gathers more water and prepares dinner. The meal allows for a rare and happy rest. Her children love to sing and dance, and like any mother Sylvia enjoys hearing about their school day. Eventually the family takes baths and retires for the night. For Sylvia, tomorrow will bring more of the same.
Sylvia’s mother, heavily stooped from a lifetime of similar work, is too old to help much on the farm. She spends most of her day sitting in the shade of a tree. Sylvia’s husband has a job in a town several hours away. His salary provides important income to the family, but he is only able to come home for a couple days at the end of each month. Though the family homestead spans 24 acres, only 2 acres are under cultivation. 1 acre is of KOMAZA crops; 307 Eucalyptus trees and 194 Jatropha plants. The other acre is cassava, which feeds the family and the livestock. Sylvia simply doesn’t have the time or income to cultivate any more land.
Sylvia is very enthusiastic when talking about KOMAZA. Compared to other crops, the trees require little maintenance and the support offered by KOMAZA staff is invaluable. Her trees are growing well in an area notorious for crop failures. When asked what she plans to do with the income she hesitates, the money seems inconceivable. School fees, she offers.
One day Sylvia’s children will take over the family homestead, and Sylvia will take her mother’s place in the shade. By then, income from the KOMAZA farm could dramatically improve the prospects of this family and the farm they have lived on for generations.
Catherine Karani Mganda lives on a 12 acre homestead about 20 minutes’ walk from Ganze Town. Her small compound has a chicken coop and two mud huts: one for the children and one for the adults. In the larger of the two, Catherine is replacing a thatch roof with aluminum, but construction is only half complete and her home lies open to the elements. When asked if this bothers her she shrugs. “We make do,” she says.
In comparison to her neighbors, much of Catherine’s land is under cultivation. She has three acres of maize intercropped with cowpeas and other vegetables, most of which are consumed by her family and her livestock. Catherine has six children, the oldest seventeen and the youngest not yet one year old. She has lost two children over the years.
The farm has two plots of KOMAZA trees, one Catherine’s and one her husband’s. “I saw my husband’s trees growing very fast,” she explains. “I knew this was a good thing.” Her plot is immaculately kept.
Every day, Catherine performs the tasks traditionally done by a female farmer in her village. She cleans the compound and cooks, gathers water and collects firewood, feeds the goats, and tends to whatever other chores need to be done. She has also taken on an outside job as a seamstress, and spends several hours a day in town making dresses. Income from the family farm wasn’t regular enough to make ends meet.
Catherine is involved in her community, and every week attends meetings for the Mufano Women’s Group and the Sharika Women’s Group. These social clubs provide support to local causes, and are an important network for Catherine. Many of the women are KOMAZA farmers.
Catherine is ultimately a happy woman. She works hard and has many mouths to feed, but her family is close, and she is visibly proud of them. When asked what she will do with the money from her KOMAZA trees she is adamant. “School fees,” she says. Nothing for you and your husband? A cow?
“No. These trees are for my children.”
Newton & Sifamenza Wadavida
Newton and Sifamenza Wadavida are a happily married couple of seventeen years. Newton, age 57, worked for thirty-two years as a livestock production assistant. He met Sifamenza while working, and proposed to her after he had saved enough money to start a family. He moved to her hometown, where three years ago he bought a farm and went into semi-retirement. They have three children ages 8, 10 and 13.
The Wadavida's are among the most successful farmers in their district. Newton has plans to connect electricity to their home, enough to turn on one fluorescent light bulb. He claims this will make them the second family in the area with electricity.
A typical day is very different for husband and wife. He works about three hours every morning tilling the land, and then retreats into the shade or to a friend’s farm. Some afternoons he will work another hour or two, most evenings he spends drinking local beer with his friends.
Sifamenza’s days are much busier. She does the family’s laundry, tends to the livestock, cleans the compound, grinds maize and hand-tills the land. She walks far distances every day to fetch water and firewood, and goes into town to buy any other item that the family needs.
It was Sifamenza’s idea to start a KOMAZA plot. She attends farmer meetings and hosts a KOMAZA Facilitar once a week. It’s clear that this initiative has changed the dynamic of the relationship – Newton understands the potential of the trees, and seems impressed with his young wife.
Relationship aside, Sifamenza has her family to think of. Her husband is getting older and less able to tend to the land. The half-acre tree farm also acts as a long-term savings account, giving her a sustainable source of income and her children unprecedented opportunities in the future.
The Wadavida's have worked hard for years to save money for their children’s school fees. For them, a KOMAZA plot means that one day they will buy more land, or be able to pay for help around the farm. Newton suggests the couple might buy a cow, and Sifamenza laughs. They both agree on one thing – as soon as the harvesting begins, they’re planting more trees.