The world celebrated “International Day of Forests” on 21st March 2022 with the theme ‘Forests and Sustainable Production and Consumption. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, forests are home to about 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity, with more than 60,000 tree species. This fact brings about the need to preserve forests to keep a balance in nature and for survival.
Kenya Climate Innovation Centre, KCIC, understands this need of ensuring that forests are protected and more trees are planted. The institution is investing in commercial forestry by supporting businesses that engage in the forestry value chain.
Simon Ngundo is one such farmer receiving support from KCIC. Simon runs Harvest View Agro Solutions, a company involved in the production of exotic and indigenous tree seedlings, fruit tree seedlings and ornamentals. Fruit seedlings include mangoes and avocado.
Simon learned about the Green Economy Youth Activation Programme (GrEYAP) online. This programme is conducted by Kenya Climate Innovation Centre (KCIC) and receives support from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). GrEYAP seeks to strengthen youth-led businesses in the forestry and agroforestry sectors. The programme builds the capacity of youth to establish and run sustainable business enterprises. Simon applied for the program and was among the 40 finalists.
Simon joined other young entrepreneurs in a one-week intensive workshop. He was mentored and linked with investors who have supported them in their business. KCIC Consulting caught up with Simon on World Forest Day at Machakos Peoples Park and here are the insights he had to share.
KCIC Consulting: What made you decide to become an Agripreneur?
Simon: The rampant shortage of employment among youth bothered me. In addition, most of the people I knew were in very unstable jobs. I wanted to create employment and at the same time create an impact on the environment.
Tree planting is the best venture I found fulfilling. Taking care of trees is just like attending to life. Seeing the trees grow to maturity made me proud of the work of my hands. I, therefore, decided to make money out of it.
KCIC Consulting: What practices have you put in place to ensure sustainable production of the crops/ trees?
Simon: Before selling my seedlings, I usually offer training on the best planting practices and how to nurture the trees. Asides from that, I encourage farmers to use organic manure on their farms to avoid soil contamination.
KCIC Consulting: What support have you received from KCIC through the GrEYAP programme?
Simon: First, is the business mentorship that was an eye-opener. Through the boot camps, I understood the environment of commercial forestry; something that was rather new to me. Second is the technical support that helped me grow my business brand, network and access markets. The third is financial support. I was linked to investors who were a great boost to my business. Indeed, I am thankful to KCIC for believing in my business.
KCIC Consulting: What message would you give to the Kenyan youth about Forestry or Agribusiness?
Simon: Forestry is a venture that is nurturing itself. I would like to encourage young people to pursue it. I pay my bills just by planting trees you too can. To the public, trees are our lungs. Each one of us should cultivate the culture of planting trees.
Simon concluded by offering us a challenge, plant the trees equivalent to your age. If you are twenty, plant twenty trees, if you are 30, do the same, at the end of five years, we would have many trees in the local areas and it is easy to manage this”
Trees offer many benefits to both humans and animals. From cleaning the air we breathe, filtering the water we drink, offering shade to creating sustainable income for local communities. Moreover, fruit trees provide nutritious food that improves our health. Some trees are great sources of medicine that are crucial for the survival of mankind. Therefore, we must protect trees, not just on the day we celebrate forests, but every day we exist on this earth.