When Wessanen UK first partnered with International Tree Foundation (ITF), the company provided funding for ITF’s Sustainable Community Forestry programme.

As part of the programme, tree-planting groups in African communities could apply for a grant to support projects that would benefit the landscape, wildlife and local communities.

ITF provides Wessanen UK with regular updates about how each of the projects are progressing. Alpha Women Empowerment Initiative (AWEI) was one of the very first groups to receive a grant and implemented a mango tree-planting project that has helped improve the lives of female farmers in the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda.

The women farmers have been supported to plant grafted mango trees which gives them a financial reward through the sale of fruit, and also improves household nutrition. The project aims to create alternative sources of income and wood for the women, who were previously involved in cutting down native trees in the Rwenzori National Park.

Jones Masika is one of the farmers who has received support through the initiative to plant more trees. She received grafted mango trees to plant on her land, and also attended a training course on the best agronomic practice to care for them. (Grafted mango trees are seedlings that have been transferred to the stem of another tree, which is a more effective cultivation method).

The training included learning how to mulch around the plant and intercropping with leguminous crops to increase soil fertility.

Jones Masika said:

“I was lacking knowledge on planting mango trees on steep slopes. I have learnt, I have now planted and am managing mango trees. This means a future for my income and food”.

Over the last year, the initiative has empowered 300 women in the local community to plant and keep 7,353 grafted mangoes on their land. These women have been badly effected by poverty caused by deforestation in the area.

Providing the grafted mangoes, seven tree nurseries have been set up which act as a source of quality seedlings for the community. The remoteness of the area has meant that previously it was very difficult for the women to access good tree seedlings.

Like Jones Masika, 513 members of the community have been trained on best practice for growing and maintaining their mango trees, knowledge which has proven to be incredibly useful to the farmers.

Deforestation has been devastating for the community and through the Initiative, training has also been delivered to large numbers to teach them about the effects of deforestation, in order to raise awareness and ease the pressure on the environment.

Thanks to the success of this project, AWEI are planning another very similar project for next year to benefit communities from Kilembe, Rukoki and Bugoye sub counties and Bulembia Division, Kasese.

To find out more about the different projects being supported by the Sustainable Community Forestry programme and the work they do, please click here.

Wessanen UK is proud to support ITF on its mission to plant 20m trees in Kenya’s highland Forests by 2024; helping to improve the lives of farmers, their families, local communities, and the environment.