Komaza: taking the pressure off African forests through micro-forestry

The Challenge

Fuelwood supplies over 80% of Africa’s primary energy and is the leading driver of forest degradation and second leading driver of deforestation. While alternative energy sources will grow with time, wood will continue to be Africa’s primary energy source for many decades to come.

As populations and economies grow and urbanise, by 2030 Africa’s demand for industrial wood is set to grow by 400%, with a supply deficit exceeding $30 billion.

While this is attracting some private investment, it is unlikely that large-scale forest plantations will meet this deficit. Without new models, deforestation will continue and Kenyan consumers will pay high prices for imported industrial wood.

The Project

Komaza works to establish micro tree farms that produce timber for sale into high-value industrial markets (such as veneer, plywood, briquettes), using waste materials as a sustainable source of fuelwood.

To do this, Komaza partners with smallholder farmers. The smallholder provides the land and labour and Komaza provides seeds plus training and support on optimising production.

Komaza’s innovative out-grower model enables smallholders to gain an income from their previously unproductive land and, because there is no need for purchasing land and labour, means trees can be planted 65% more cheaply than they are on big plantations.

 

© Komaza

 

By planting on pockets of degraded or unproductive smallholder land, so-called micro-forestry, Komaza aims to restore degraded farmlands through reforestation while enabling farmers to earn life-changing income from tree harvests.

As a result, local consumers have access to sustainable timber and fuel at competitive prices, and pressure on natural forests will be reduced.

Partnerships for Forests support has allowed Komaza to develop an expansion strategy and lay the foundations to launch a special forestry vehicle to securitise Komaza’s harvest contracts, which included designing a term sheet and developing an investor pitch deck. Taken together, these activities aim at establishing a sustainable plan to finance the future rapid growth of Komaza.

The impact

Komaza has been operating in Kilifi for the past ten years and has successfully scaled its model to Kwale in coastal Kenya. It has been working with around 5,000 farmers, planted 3,800 hectares of trees, and begun to process some wood and generate sales. In December 2018, Komaza launched its first operation site in Nyandarua, validating market and farmer data through pilot projects.

Economic and social value

By intercropping and using currently unproductive land, farmers add to their existing income with money first the from thinnings of the planted trees after 3–6 years, and then more significant income from mature harvests after 8–15 years.

The project also focuses on engaging and economically empowering women; they make up half of the participating farmers.

Environmental value

The deep-rooted trees are resilient to erratic rainfall, help stabilise soils and mitigate erosion.

Kilifi, Kwale and Nyandarua regions, Kenya

Commodities
Fuelwood
Type of partnership
Forest Partnership
By 2020
7000 hectares under sustainable land use, £30 million private investment leveraged