AgroEcology and Contract Farming
By Jan-Tore Øvrevik, Director of Development, T4E
Better Globe's biggest challenge has always been acquiring enough land to establish our plantations, but with our new concept agroecology1, we may never face this challenge again. In Africa, more and more companies from other countries are grabbing land and evicting people who have lived there for decades. Because of that, we have been looking for different ways to approach this important issue in a better and secure way. After almost 10 years of studying and understanding how land systems work in Africa, Better Globe Forestry has found the best system that will help underprivileged farmers to eradicate poverty, which we call; AgroEcology — The Better Globe Way.
Only small farmers and Agroecology
can feed the world.
With the use of agroecology, we will train the outgrowers2 how to plant trees on their cleared land. With access to free land for our trees, we can drop large investments and maintenance cost in the plant phase, reduce some of the operational staff cost, save time, and be able to speed up our tree planting drastically. Better Globe Forestry has extended the known agroecology system, to also include topics as microfinance, carbon credits, shared ownership, repurchase agreements, private area supervisor, partnership agreements etc.
In September 2014, we met with the Chairman of the KenGen Foundation (part of the biggest power company in Kenya) to discuss planting trees in schools and on their land. This will provide opportunities for locals to act as outgrowers in terms of planting trees.
1 Agroecology is the study of ecological processes that operate in agricultural production systems. The prefix agro- refers to agriculture. Bringing ecological principles to bear in agroecosystems can suggest novel management approaches that would not otherwise be considered. The field of agroecology is not associated with any one particular method of farming, whether it be organic, integrated, or conventional; intensive or extensive.
2 Contract farming, known as outgrower scheme in Eastern Africa, involves agricultural production being carried out on the basis of an agreement between the buyer and farm producers. Sometimes it involves the buyer specifying the quality required and the price, with the farmer agreeing to deliver at a future date.
In our decision making, we have compiled the knowledge from all these areas:
- How the Government works with land issues
- How the Government looks at tree planting
- How big development organizations work
- How outgrowers systems work
- How to secure sustainability with outgrowers
- How tree planting work
- How microfinance systems work
- How poverty eradication work in Africa
With our new concept, outgrowers will be the mainstream business in the years to come, and Better Globe Forestry will be able to support thousands of families at a lot faster rate. The Kenyan Government's 2030 vision states that all farmers should have a minimum of 10% of their land as wood lot (covered by forest) to secure long-term sustainability and saving the environment, which is very timely for Better Globe's new approach. Next June, our partner ICRAF (The World Agroforestry Center) will arrange to have an international "investment conference for sustainable agroforestry" in Kenya and our CEO has been asked to be one of the main speakers at this conference, using Better Globe Forestry's approach as an example of how poverty eradication for small farmers can be done.
With all that being said, Better Globe Forestry recently signed an MoU with the University of Nairobi for development of Mukau seedlings through In-vitro production. Students from this university will be doing some work for us in the field in our Kenyan plantations.
On the left; Jean-Paul Deprins, Managing Director of Better Globe Forestry, and on the right; Prof. George Chemining’wa, Chairman of the Plant Science & Crop Protection Department, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Nairobi, showing a signed MoU between the two parties.
Photo courtesy: Better Globe Forestry