Last year we planted 7,000 trees near Kumasi that will be very beneficial to farmers in different ways. Most will wildly increase soil health and fertility while some can be used to provide construction material and regrow thereafter.
The super tree Moringa provides leaves that can not only be used as super food but can be turned into a fluid fertilizer providing a boost in growth for cocoa seedlings. A couple of weeks ago I met with Yayra, the head of our cooperative, to discuss which trees we should be planting this year. As part of our latest Kickstarter campaign, we promised to go out planting again.
The discussion soon turned into a brain-storming session and we somehow ended up with the idea of planting coconut palm-trees. Why on earth?
Well, the price for cocoa, often the farmers only source of income, does not only fluctuate massively but does that around its lowest price in recent history. My friend Jerry who was driving me and staying with us is a keen lover of fresh coconuts. He emptied five or six of them on our trip and loved our idea. He said he had never paid less than a cedi for one and they are sold everywhere. Yayra knew that there are more and more big buyers coming to market as products such as coconut oil and coconut water are in high demand.
Even without outside demand there is not only Jerry who enjoys a coconut at every chance. it’s actually one of the most bought local products on markets. So Yayra involved his staff who also loved the idea and soon we began making plans. We’ll be providing seedlings of high-output coconut palm-trees to farmers that can pay a part of the cost (10% to 20%) in cocoa beans in the next harvest.
We’ll help them to care for the seedlings and teach them how to make sure they grow quickly and yield a first harvest within three years. Since all the farms are free of chemicals and organically certified it will also be quite easy to get the coconuts organically certified in the future. We’ve discussed different possibilities of purchasing the coconuts from the farmers to create a product with them ourselves but have given us more time since it will be years until the first harvest anyway.
The most important aspect is, that the fruits will enable the farmers to generate additional income irrespective of fluctuating world market prices as there is a working local market for coconuts, which grow year round if I haven’t mentioned that yet.
Yayra and his team are working on securing the right seedlings and are even looking into creating a small nursery for seedlings themselves. I’ll keep you posted about the progress of the project and will be back with lots of pictures from the planting event of course.
In the meantime I’m thrilled to be working with these great people as it really is a joy to see things grow in their natural speed. I hope the Kickstarter backers whose rewards included trees to be planted are happy with this change of plans. I know there were several who were really interested in knowing more about the impact of “their trees” and I can’t wait to tell them about the plans we’ve made now.
Stay tuned for updates on this!