The Kilombero Valley Teak Company (KVTC) has since 2008 embarked on a project to increase the teak wood resource in the Kilombero valley on top of its own teak plantation that spans about 8,000 hectares. The company saw an opportunity to achieve this goal through the surrounding communities in the three districts that it operates in and the KVTC Out-grower Support (KVTC-OSP) Programme was born.
To date, 697 participants are involved in the programme, of which 26 are schools, churches, and local village governments, while the rest are individuals. As of today, over 1,000 hectares of teak have been successfully established.
The programme is currently run under two models, the first “old model” ran from 2008 to 2020 and the “new model”, which is ongoing, started in 2021. The older model sought to run the programme as a corporate social responsibility for the company, and as a commercial venture where KVTC partnered with the beneficiaries on the management of plots in terms of cost sharing and later share the crop at harvesting.
From 2021 the objectives of the OSP programme were reduced to only one, corporate social responsibility where KVTC has no stake in the ownership of these plots. In this model, the company gives free seedlings and stumps to individuals whose land has been assessed for soil quality and other environmental standards such as the “no conversion” in the last 10 years. KVTC also provides free extension education on the management of these plots until maturity. In this model the beneficiaries are free to sell their crop to whoever they wish, including KVTC.
Residents of Igumbiro village from Ulanga district were some of the early beneficiaries of the KVTC-OSP programme. They joined the programme and planted their plot in 2010. Although their teak trees are now 13 years old, the village government has already realised an income in cash from the first economical thinning.
Mohamed Abdallah Mkundage, a representative from Igumbiro village explained that the residents decided to join the programme in 2010 after being convinced by KVTC leadership that it was a profitable venture. “They influenced us that growing teak is a profitable long-term investment that would contribute to the village's income”.
The residents have already realised some economic gains. “Last year, we received income through the first harvest, about TSh2.8 million. In addition, each of us had short-term employment opportunities through a contractor working in the village's teak farm under KVTC's sponsorship,” Mr Mkundage highlighted. He added: “We expect to earn significant income during the harvest, which will be used to improve education and healthcare by building schools and clinics.”
KVTC management is excited that even after the changes in the model of the programme, more villagers within the three districts are still eager to participate. Since 2021, 126 beneficiaries have joined the program with this new model, and about 175 hectares of teak farms have been successfully established.
Kurwa Mahona Zengo who joined the programme in 2022, says that he was attracted to take part because it being a long-term investment will provide financial support to his family in the future.
Written by Millicent Mwololo