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)

 

Tracking Vanilla In Tanzania

At Natural Extracts Industries, Ltd. we are proud of the high-quality standards we have set for sustainable vanilla production in Tanzania.  Each year we strive to improve the processes from planting, cultivation, pollination, harvesting, purchasing and finally the curing.  How vanilla from other countries comes to market has been the target of mystery and sometimes even stories of farmer exploitation.

So, now more than ever it has become important to track the source of vanilla we collect from our farmers to provide added transparency and accountability into the supply chain of our vanilla.  As we move to certify farms producing organic vanilla, it will provide additional assurances that our farmers continue to be paid fairly and ensure certified farms continue to use best practices.

Aarti Mahajan, who joined the NEI team to lead the initiative to deploy an ICT platform, called Source Trace,  to our farmer network says, “Source Trace provides complete visibility of our vanilla from the farm to our factory.  The ease of use of the interface allows us to distribute tablets with the Source Trace application to our lead farmers.  Source Trace is a powerful tool that allows the NEI team to access real-time data anytime from anywhere in the world.”

Working with partners like Source Trace provides NEI with the forward-looking technology that will continue to make us a leading provider of the highest quality vanilla available on the world market.

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What Do Seaweed and Vanilla Have in Common?

Depending on the time of day you are relaxing on the shores of Paje, Zanzibar you may see some very different settings.

When the tide is high, the beach feels busier. You can hear music from a close by restaurant, waves crashing and children playing. The water may come up to only a few meters away from your beach towel, and to your right, you can see dozens of kite surfers!

When the tide retreats the beach is a whole new place. People leave the beach to find their hotel pools, and the atmosphere becomes peaceful and calm. You no longer hear the waves because the water is so far away. You can walk 40 minutes out into the ocean, where the water would have once been as high as your shoulders.

Among this peacefulness, you will notice something strange out where the water was once a few feet deep. Perfectly lined sticks poke up from the sand. seaweed-farm

This is where the Seaweed Center grows their seaweed! When the tide is low, they are able to go out and collect the Eucheuma Spinosum, the particular type of red seaweed used in their very special products! The seaweed has many natural health benefits like antioxidants, antibacterial and antiviral properties, high levels of vitamin E, as well as being a natural source of collagen.

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The Seaweed Center uses the seaweed to make soaps, body scrubs, body oils and even juice. (The scrubs smell heavenly!)You can stop by their beautiful store/production facilities to buy their products or get a tour! You get to learn how they make their natural soap and even join them to harvest the seaweed.

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We think the Seaweed Center is excellent because they believe in supporting their community, sourcing organic and local materials in Tanzanian and using high-quality ingredients, just like NEI! They began 2013, and they have lots more plans for the future!

Check out their Facebook and definitely drop by to see them if you are in Zanzibar!

 

Get To Know NEI – Jeanne

After spending the last few years in Thailand and Myanmar working on social enterprises Jeanne joined our team as the VP, Business Development driving the strategy to build the Epicurious Hedgehog brand in East and South Africa.  She brings experience from years of working at startups in US technology companies.

“What I love most about my job is meeting the farmers and their families and seeing the impact of a sustainable business model that respects both people and the earth.”

When she’s not in the office she can be found exploring the vast ecosystem that surrounds Kilimanjaro and getting out on game drives to see the animals in their natural habitat.  Her favorite African animal?  The warthog because they have such quirky personalities.

Creating Shared Value Nestle Award!

This past July, the NEI team had the pleasure of attending the Nestlé Global Forum ceremony (which was held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, but broadcasted in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania) as a feature for the winning prize: Creating Shared Value 2016.

With a goal of investing in sustainable development in Africa, Nestlé Global comes together yearly by bringing together businesses, civil society and government leaders from Africa to discuss key topics affecting the continent. As a part of this Forum, an award entitled ‘Creating Shared Value’ is awarded and of the 400 African social enterprises, only two were granted the prize; Natural Extracts Industries Ltd. of Tanzania being one of them.

Essentially, the goal was to help lead nutrition and health through collaboration, understand the needs of smallholder farmers, implement responsible sourcing in supply chain and address gender balance in the workforce, amongst many other aspects of development. It is therefore, a wonderful accomplishment for NEI to receive such recognition! Bravo!

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Jeanne Bruns – VP of Business Development and two of NEI’s Champion Farmers at the Nestlé 2016 Global Forum in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

 

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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Chocolatey Relaxing Face Mask, YES PLEASE

yogurtThis face mask is great after a long, hot, tiring day! It is calming and cooling and the best part…chocolatey!

It is very simple to put together! Just plain yogurt, raw honey and cacao extract! All 3 ingredients do wonders for your skin!

Yogurt contains lactic acid. Lactic acid is a natural skin exfoliator yet is very gentle! High concentrations of lactic acid also make yogurt face masks hydrating because the lactic acid increases water content in the skin. An awesome bonus to yogurt is that it is a source of zinc, a mineral known for its skin repairing, healing and protecting abilities. Zinc reduces skin inflammation, quickly healing acne breakouts while also reducing excessive oil production.

Raw honey, besides tasting amazing, is also a natural antibacterial!  How cool it that?! “Raw” means that the honey hasn’t been damaged by heat, for example, lots if hone is pasteurized. This process heats up the honey to kill microorganisms, and is often done to reduce the likelihood of the honey crystallizing. But the process kills lots of the good stuff about honey that should be celebrated and utilized!  Here is a good read that better explains the problems with honey pasteurization.

So find raw honey!

Raw honey’s antiseptic and antimicrobial properties making it great for healing the skin (it is even good for healing cuts and burns by killing bacteria and fungus). Raw honey also contains gluconic acid, an acid that brightens the complexion, evens out skin tone, and lightens scars and age spots.

Cacao extract adds a lovely aroma to this mask but also offers tons of antioxidants for your skin. Cacao has antioxidants called flavonoids, which are great for stimulating blood circulation in the skin, smoothing fine lines, and giving you a rosy glow, it is also a potent anti-inflammatory, and can help soothe redness and reduce blemishes. Extracts are a great way to get a high concentration of antioxidants!

If you want to make this mask extra rich and luxe add some cocoa powder for an extra addition of chocolatey goodness.

In small bowl, mix:

  • 3 tbsp of plain yogurt
  • 3 tbsp of raw honey
  • 1 tsp of Epicurious Hedgehog Cacao Extract
  • 1 tbsp Epicurious Hedgehog Cocoa Powder (optional)

Apply the mixture to your face in a thin yet complete layer. Relax while wearing the mask for 20 minutes then rinse with warm water! I like to use this mask 2-3 times a week to keep my skin fresh and calm.

Hope you enjoy it and have a relaxing week!

For more information about Epicurious Hedgehog and Natural Extracts Industries, head to our website!

 

Farming Vanilla

So we told you all about the vanilla plant last week but do you know how vanilla fits into farming? It is the reason we at Natural Extracts Industries are so excited to be partnering with Tanzanian farmers to introduce it to their farms!

The smallholder farmers we work with grow lots of other things on their farms like bananas, coffee or sugar cane. Vanilla is planted between and around these existing plants because it doesn’t need a lot of space and it enjoys the shade! In the picture you can see how the vanilla vine is planted below a banana plant. This is called intercropping and it is great for the farmer and the environment in many ways!

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Intercropping allows the farmer to produce a greater yield from their farms and earn extra income, this also makes it a smart environmental practice. Vanilla needs the shade of larger plants to grow, this means planting it discourages deforestation. That’s good news because many of the farmers we work with live on the edges of national parks. The environmental buffer zones around the parks are preserved because of the vanilla and Tanzania’s wildlife is better off!

So now you can see why we love farming vanilla! It is great for everyone involved and the environment! Let us know if you have any more questions about farming vanilla!

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