Komaza: Turning arid land into an asset
Bring dryland farmers out of poverty
Provide farmers on dry, poor- quality land the inputs and training needed to produce marketable trees, then recover costs through harvesting, processing, and selling high- value wood products
How it works
- Systematically identify tree farming opportunities
- Recruit and mobilize farmers in semiarid regions with fallow land
- Provide inputs on credit, technical assistance, monitoring, and training in crop production
- Use the same network to help them grow short-term cash crops
- Process wood products and sell in bulk to buyers
- Recover costs by taking 50% of harvest proceeds after 3 years
How it will go to scale
Via the market (including Komaza’s own growth). Donor subsidies will be used to start-up profitable operations focused on the impoverished target population.
Progress so far
Start up: 675,000 trees planted on 4000 family farms, with small amounts of income from intercropped legumes.
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Throughout the developing world, millions of smallholder farmers are stuck on semi-arid land that has little potential to earn them a decent livelihood.
Drought and deforestation combine in a vicious cycle that leaves land and people impoverished. Tevis Howard saw the potential for microforestry to take pressure off native forests and provide an exit from extreme poverty. Tevis founded Komaza to help farmers on degraded land grow trees – and perhaps other plants - as a cash crop, providing the necessary inputs, training, and ongoing support. Komaza eventually harvests and sells the wood to recover costs and share profits with the farmers. In their pilot program in Kilifi Kenya, Komaza has worked with 4000 farmers to plant over 675,000 trees. With the growing – and unmet – local and global demand for wood products, successful tree farming offers enormous potential for scale throughout otherwise unproductive semi-arid environments of Sub-Saharan Africa.
A compelling problem
Millions of Africans are stuck on semi-arid land that has little potential to earn them a decent livelihood, while the unmet demand for wood products is destroying existing patches of intact forest.
A scalable solution
Mulago assesses scalability based on five characteristics common to efforts that have taken lasting impact to scale.
Real impact: For start-ups like Komaza, Mulago assesses whether there is clarity about impact, a logical case for it, and good M&E to assure it. Trees are growing, and there is a huge market for wood. Komaza will be able to directly measure the increase in family income from tree farming via sales records.
Cost-effective: With conservative figures, there is a projected >15:1 ratio of new farm income per donor dollar over the 8-year harvest cycle.
Lasting behavior: Farmers who farm well will make good money; ongoing revenue will keep Komaza and other players in the game over time.
Easy replication: Komaza has streamlined logistics of planting and tree maintenance, and the wood product business follows an established business model.
A viable route to scale: Given the potential for high profitability, along with an unrelenting demand for wood products, Komaza (and others tapping their model) will eventually access commercial capital markets and grow to meet market demand.
Capacity to deliver
Founder Tevis Howard achieved a rapid and high quality Kenyan implementation in only 3 years. He jump-started the organization by attracting an R&D team of top international interns, along with a growing cadre of talented local Kenyans. From 2010 to 2011, Komaza has more than doubled field operations and delivery.
updated October 2011