TFCG works in many remote areas where people have few economic options and limited access to information about market opportunities and best practices in agriculture, alternative crops, technologies, markets and microfinance. As a result many have little choice but to depend on livelihood strategies that undermine the future of the forests around them such as charcoal production, logging and shifting agriculture.
By working closely with communities over the last 20 years, TFCG have identified a suite of initiatives that improve people’s livelihoods and enable them to live more harmoniously with the forests around them.
With TFCG’s support, farmers living close to the Eastern Arc Mountain and coastal forests plant over one million trees every year. These trees provide fuel wood, building materials and cash incomes to the farmers.
Fuel efficient stoves
Fuel efficient stoves can reduce household wood fuel consumption by 50 % compared with traditional three-stone stoves. This reduces pressure on the forests. The improved stoves also bring significant health benefits by reducing the smoke and therefore avoiding respiratory complaints as well as being safer for children as they are more stable than the three stone stoves. Through our training of trainers programme, an average of 3000 households per year convert to these stoves.
In the East Usambara Mountains, TFCG supports the Amani Butterfly Project. The project supports a cooperative of butterfly farmers who farm and export butterfly pupae to butterfly houses around the world. The butterfly pupae are sold for between US$ 1 and US$ 2.50. On average the butterfly project has increased household incomes by about 25 % and has provided a strong motivation for the farmers to actively protect the forests around them. For more information visit www.amanibutterflyproject.org
Honey and wax
With TFCG’s support, several hundred farmers now earn an income from improved honey production. TFCG has worked closely with the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology in Nairobi, a world leader in research on bees, to train farmers on modern bee keeping and honey processing techniques. As a result of our work with ICIPE, farmers in the East Usambara Mountains now run a honey cooperative and own their own honey processing centre which supplies honey to the international market.
As populations increase it is essential that we use the land more efficiently to meet people’s daily needs and to reduce pressure on the forests. TFCG have been promoting various improved agricultural techniques including soil conservation measures and agroforestry.
A key limiting factor for many local entrepreneurs in the villages around the Eastern Arc Mountains and Coastal Forests is having no access to capital. TFCG has worked closely with microfinance institutions to establish Village Savings and Loan Associations. Through these associations, members have been able to save and borrow in such a way that they can invest more in improving their agriculture as well as paying for school fees and other significant cash outflows.