Since 2009 GR has been implementing smallholder tree growing programmes throughout Tanzania. This has been facilitated by establishing Tree Growing Associations (TGA’s) across ten villages in Tanzania; the reason for such associations is to create community support and advocacy associations that will enhance members’ social capital, enabling them to become independent actors in forestry practices and wood-product markets. This means that tree growers can retain independence, and do not become reliant on large-scale industrial plantations and processors, which is often the case with out-grower schemes.
GR acts as a facilitator in the process, providing guidelines and training on nursery establishment, woodlot establishment, woodlot management and biodiversity conservation. Training is provided through written material and practical, in-field demonstrations and nursery inputs. Seedlings and other equipment are also provided by the company.
Currently within the ten villages, the TGA’s reach 771 farmers, 262 of which are women. Each TGA has a chairman, secretary and treasurer, all of whom were democratically elected in village meetings. These projects have resulted in the planting of 410,000 trees on 370 ha; the project was co-funded by FINNIDA.
Seedlings are provided to farmers from the TGA nurseries as well as by GR directly. Between April 2010 and April 2011, a total of 215,700 pine seedlings were supplied by GR; an additional 194,300 came from the TGA nurseries. Once seedlings have been provided extension visits are carried out and workshops are held in order to ensure optimal growth.
GR is using findings from Tanzania to develop a model of good practice as it expands its work to more communities living in and around GR plantations.
In 2012 the company will be focusing on expanding these projects, through the ‘Sustainable Wood and Charcoal Production in Rural Mozambique and Tanzania’ project. This project, co-financed by the EU, aims to establish a further 4,000 ha of eucalyptus fuel wood plantation by 2,000 farmers in Kilombero, Mufindi and Njombe districts in Tanzania and in Namina, Nampula and Ribaue districts in Mozambique.
The project will be organised through a network of TGAs and extension foresters managed by GR. It will also work to expand the existing Tanzanian smallholder plantations and provide more extensive support for existing farmers of TGA’s. In Mozambique, the project will build on GR’s existing agricultural extension programme that includes more than 1,000 farmers. The TGA’s will provide guidelines, training and seedlings to the participant farmers and will support farmers in registering their land rights. During the 2012/13 planting season GR will produce and distributed 1.8mn seedlings among the initial 1,000 project participants.
The EU-funded project also includes the establishment of a highly efficient, methane-free retort charcoal plant, in each country with a production capacity of 7,500 tonnes charcoal per year each.
Each successful participating household will receive one tonne of charcoal (satisfying their annual fuel needs), one small solar lighting system and an improved charcoal cooking stove. These three elements will not only dramatically improve the composition and quality of the energy use among the participating farmers but will also work as an incentive for farmers to establish and maintain a high quality forest. Furthermore, significant health problems are created by use of open wood fires indoors, and a transition to charcoal has large health benefits.