Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation at NEI

Because Kilimanjaro and its economy are largely dependent on the smallholder-based agriculture sector, they are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Approximately 90% of Tanzania’s population, as with the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa, is dependent on rain-fed crops for their food security. Climate change negatively impacts such crop production through rainfall variability and temperature shocks, threatening the livelihoods of farmers (Arslan, Belotti & Lipper, 2017; Moore et al., 2011).

Natural Extracts Industries (NEI) is working hard to address this. Our work firstly addresses deforestation through agroforestry. Because vanilla requires shade to grow, forest conservation is promoted throughout our network of farmers. This is vital, as cutting down forests releases the carbon stored within them into the atmosphere, a
process accounting for 17% of carbon emissions globally (Gorte & Sheikh, 2010). An estimated 500 to 750 tonnes of carbon are stored in each hectare of forest, with Tanzania losing approximately 400,000 hectares every year (Khatun et al., 2015; Komba & Muchapondwa, 2015). These emissions have drastically changed the local climate.

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In order to help our farmers mitigate the effects of climate change on their vanilla and other crops, we have begun implementing several strategies, one of which is our rainwater harvesting project, funded by our partner organization MEDA. Farmers are selected for the program based on their level of water-stress, with priority given to our women farmers as well. They receive a rainwater harvesting tank and all required infrastructure installed at their farm free of charge. The size of the tank varies based on the number of vanilla vines each farmer grows.

fullsizeoutput_3b8bAfter receiving tanks from NEI, farmers are trained both on how to use the tanks and on how to most effectively utilize the harvested water for their irrigation purposes. Each vanilla vine requires approximately one litre of water a week, which can be achieved by implementing a bottle-drip irrigation system. NEI has already installed 74 tanks to 74 farmer beneficiaries, and aims to reach a total of 200 tanks by the end of 2018. In addition, NEI is also repairing water furrows.

 

 

Farmer Profile:fullsizeoutput_3b8c

Mary Ulomi lives in the village of Uswaa in Kilimanjaro with her husband and five children. Her livelihood is solely dependant on agriculture. Using her extra income generated from growing vanilla with NEI, Mary was able both to send her children to school and invest in other economic activities such as maize cultivation.

In the past, however, Mary has struggled with drought at her farm. She has even lost vanilla plants, which dried up due to the lack of water. In order to address this issue, NEI installed a rainwater harvest tank at Mary’s farm in August, and provided her with training on how to use her tank. She is now utilizing bottle-drip irrigation for her vanilla as well. Since the installation of the tank, her plants have remained in good health and she hopes to achieve increased yields in the coming season.

 

References

Arslan, A., Belotti, F., & Lipper, L. (2017). Smallholder productivity and weather shocks: Adoption and impact of widely promoted agricultural practices in Tanzania. Food Policy, 69, 68-81. doi:10.1016/j.foodpol.2017.03.005 (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306919217301872)

Gorte, R. W., & Sheikh, P. A. (2010). Deforestation and Climate Change. Congressional Research Service. (http://forestindustries.eu/sites/default/files/userfiles/1file/R41144.pdf)

Khatun, K., Gross-Camp, N., Corbera, E., Martin, A., Ball, S., & Massao, G. (2015). When Participatory Forest Management makes money: insights from Tanzania on governance, benefit sharing, and implications for REDD. Environment and Planning A, 47(10), 2097-2112. doi:10.1177/0308518×15595899 (http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0308518X15595899)

Komba, C., & Muchapondwa, E. (2016). An analysis of factors affecting household willingness to participate in the REDD programme in Tanzania. Climate and Development, 1-14. doi:10.1080/17565529.2016.1145098 (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/296475511_An_analysis_of_factors_affecting_household_willingness_to_participate_in_the_REDD_programme_in_Tanzania)

Moore, N., Alagarswamy, G., Pijanowski, B., Thornton, P., Lofgren, B., Olson, J., . . . Qi, J. (2011). East African food security as influenced by future climate change and land use change at local to regional scales. Climatic Change, 110(3-4), 823-844. doi:10.1007/s10584-011-0116-7 (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-011-0116-7)

 

The Sweetest Thing!

Jasmine Bee Honey is a Moshi based social enterprise that works with bee farmers to bring Tanzanian honey to market.

Jasmijn Bleijerveld began the company 3 years ago to help promote environmental conservation using commercial business as an incentive. The company initiates value chain approached community beekeeping projects, which stimulate the development and growth of beekeeper entrepreneurs and beekeeping related economic activities scalable across Tanzania. They also supply modern beekeeping and processing equipment and relevant training, which allows better hive management, thus a higher yield, better quality of bees products and – crucially – an increased of female participation.


Jasmijn’s mission is to create an organic Tanzanian honey brand recognized for its quality, by supporting the traditional beekeeping sector, stimulating the sustainable development of livelihoods and conservation of biodiversity in Tanzania. 

The Jasmine Bee products include:

Kisampa Honey
Organic honey is made by wild African bees in the pristine acacia woodlands and forests of the majestic Wami River valley bordering Saadani National Park.
The honey contains no preservatives or additives and is not processed in any way. This honey also supports the Kisampa Community Conservation Sanctuary.

Njokomoni Honey
In the Udzungwa Mountains, a sharp boundary between forest and farms leads to elephant crop- raiding and conflict with communities. To reduce the crop-raiding, STEP and Njokomoni Farmers Group built a beehive fence to protect the farms against elephant raids, and provide farmers with an additional source of income. As a result, retaliatory killing of elephants has fallen to almost zero. By buying this honey, you are supporting a project which is restoring harmony between people and elephants in southern Tanzania.

We love Jasmine Bee Honey because their values of environmental and social responsibility are so similar to NEI’s!

Like them on their Facebook and check out the website www.jasminebee.net!

Silas, the Vanilla Expert!

Across from me in my office sits a humble gentleman who types quietly on his computer… for 2 minutes until he is on his way out of the office again, off to visit another farmer.

Silas Noah is one of NEI’s co-founders and even though he rarely mentions it, it made perfect sense to me once I found out! He knows everything there is to know about farming and growing vanilla, not to mention he knows each one of the Farmer Champions personally.

Silas and Juan Guardado established NEI in 2011, combining their expertise in rural development (Silas) and business development (Juan). Learn more about the history of NEI here.

Silas has personally worked with the vanilla farmers since the first day and still does. I had the chance to join him on a field visit recently and got to learn so much from him (even about clove trees) and observe him mentoring another farmer and Farmer Champion.

Last week NEI’s extension team held a meeting with all the Farmer Champions in the area, it was a great time to learn about all the challenges the farmers face. Silas was totally in his element guiding the farmers!

NEI is very lucky to have someone as positive, outgoing and smart as Silas! Thank you Silas!

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Growing Vanilla

Part of working with Tanzanian smallholder farmers is really understanding the core environmental aspect of what they are doing every day. In the case of vanilla, the whole story often isn’t told! And, by all means, it is actually incredibly interesting!

Originally, vanilla is native to Mexico, where one certain species of bees specializes in it’s pollination. This kind of bee, however, does not exist in Africa (or anywhere else other than Mexico for that matter). Since no other family of bees, nor butterfly, moth, fly, or hummingbird have been willing to pollinate the vanilla plant – it has been left up to human beings. Therefore, this hand pollination, flower, by flow, is  a very tedious and labour-intensive crop.

Vanilla plants take 2.5 years to start flowering. Once the flower has blossomed, they are hand-pollinated with a tooth pick (from male to female, which are differentiated by one extra petal). Then, the flower shrivels up, the orchid falls and a green vanilla bean grows (in groups like bananas). The plant is a perennial and will continue to flower for approximately 13 years, but it is extremely easy to regenerate them because a whole plant will grow by planting just one vine in the ground, from an older plant.

The Jatrofa tree also plays a huge role in the growth of vanilla. The small tree is planted about 3 months before the vanilla as a support system, as the vanilla vine clings to it and they grow high together as friends, drinking off each other (just like us). The Jatrofa (called ‘Croton’ in English) also produces nuts which are used as a sustainable way to produce biofuel. There are even croton nut pickers who make a living collecting them.

All in all, a very interesting plant!

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