In 2002 Sebastian won an Associate Laureate prize from the Rolex Awards for Enterprise. With a portion of that funding he was able to purchase a Toyota Landcruiser. During our stay in Tanzania we were able to witness the significance of this vehicle for his conservation work. From where Sebastian lives, it is a walk of several miles to the nearest bus stop. Even so, many of the schools where he works are not even accessible by bus. Renting a car is very expensive and still involves a large usage of time to access the vehicle.
The Landcruiser has changed his life significantly, allowing him freedom of movement and ability to transport people, educational materials, tools, and seedlings with ease. Once again, we gratefully extend our thanks to Rolex.
KEEG and EcoVentures
Last year in this newsletter we included an article about the Kibosho East Environmental Group (KEEG), an energetic tree planting group that is working in close association with Sebastian Chuwa in protecting the environment and developing environmentally friendly products to sell, such as disease resistant coffee trees for area farmers.
This year, through an application submitted by the ABCP, they received funding, to build a new nursery and fence their plot, from EcoVentures International (EVI).
The objective of EVI is to support environmental entrepreneurship and the development of micro and small enterprises that...provide environmental products and services to enhance and protect local resources.
While in Tanzania, we met with members of the KEEG and toured their nursery facility, which is only a short walk from Sebastians home. Led by John Ngoti, members have been able to increase personal income and work closely with Sebastian in developing new projects for environmental conservation on Mt. Kilimanjaro. Several years ago they became local heroes when they prevented a dangerous forest fire from destroying community habitation.
Disease Resistant Coffee Plants for Kilimanjaro Farmers
Although a primary focus of the ABCP is the work of mpingo conservation, through the years it has sponsored tree planting initiatives for a large variety of species that improve the daily lives of the people, as well as some self-help initiatives to increase monetary income. We fervently believe that poverty is a primary cause of environmental destruction and that helping people meet their subsistence needs advances the cause of conservation.
One initiative that we are now supporting is the supplying of disease resistant coffee plants to the farmers of Mt. Kilimanjaro, many of whom are growing coffee on their home farms. Since the 1960s the area has been plagued by Coffee Berry Disease, a fungus that attacks the young coffee berries and dries them up before maturity.
In order to find remedies for this disease, Sebastian has been consulting with the personnel of the Tanzania Coffee Research Institute (TACRI) in Lyamungo.This research team has developed new Arabica seedlings that are resistant to Coffee Berry Disease and is leading a national campaign to boost coffee production by replacing disease-prone plants all over Tanzania, an estimated 200,000,000 in number.
In his own nursery Sebastian is experimenting with germination, grafting, and planting techniques that will supply coffee farmers with the new varieties.
Sebastian estimates that only one percent of Kilimanjaro coffee farmers are currently growing resistant varieties, and that about 1,200,000 plants could be replaced or added in his area in order to give the farmers better crops.
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Last revised 21 Apr 2008.