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Better Globe

Better Globe Sosoma plantation

Sosoma is a huge chunk of land in eastern Kenya of roughly 60,000 hectares. It is located along a major highway, Thika-Garissa road, which is asphalted and leads to Nairobi. The area is largely unpopulated because it is quite inhospitable.
Better Globe Sosoma plantation

The owners, the Sosoma Ranching Cooperative Society Ltd, tried to develop the ranch for livestock keeping in the 1970s, but were unsuccessful. The reasons for the failure included undercapitalisation, the hot climate (with a thriving tsetse fly population), drought (no watering points at critical moments), wildlife (lions like to eat cattle, for breakfast, lunch and dinner), and a ranch management that could have been better in that period. However, the area is flat, has a good soil composition and quality, no rocks, and enjoys good access. In addition, the Better Globe preferred tree species, notably Melia volkensii and Acacia senegal, grow naturally there.

On the ground, Better Globe has not yet put its mark. However, a great deal of preparatory work has been done. After lengthy negotiations, an MOU has been signed with the owners. Regular consultative meetings are taking place with relevant government representatives to ensure possible bottlenecks are cleared before they even occur. Because of the size of the ranch, and the future impact of the intervention, many interests are involved and Better Globe has to maneuver carefully. Feasibility studies on both Melia volkensii and Acacia senegal were completed for plantations of 30,000 hectares and 20,000 hectares respectively. Both studies confirmed the ecological, technical and commercial viability of the undertakings.

A hydro geological survey took place for analysing underground water potential, and three different borehole sites were identified. Permission for drilling was obtained after an Environmental Impact Assessment submitted to (and approved by) the National Environmental Management Authority (the government watchdog guarding the environment). Another survey has looked at the possibility of establishing earth dams on small seasonal streams in the ranch.

Water is key to developing the area, and everything is now in place for drilling a borehole and starting the works. If the water quality is right, a nursery will be established and preparations for planting can commence. However, many boreholes in this and similar areas yield salt water of various types, making any tree nursery or other work impossible. This is a question that can only be answered once the drilling has started, which will be later this year. Several companies have quoted for the work and selection of the company has been done.

Better Globe is off to a promising start with full cooperation of the authorities and armed with technical expertise acquired from its planting operations in Kiambere.

Mboti primary school

Better Globe has also started an interesting outgrowers experiment in the bufferzone of Sosoma. Child Africa, one of its sister organisations, has been assisting Mboti Primary School in Mbuvu Location (close to Nguni). By refurbishing the school, as well as improving its roof catchment, Better Globe is preparing for tree growing by farmers. Under a special programme, a borehole will be drilled, and members of the community around the school trained in running a water supply scheme.

Simultaneously, they can access financial and technical support for growing Melia volkensii, a tree they know well, with Better Globe guaranteeing the future market for the logs. Participants of the scheme are organised in a Savings and Credit Cooperative Society (a SACCO) dedicated to agroforestry for poverty alleviation. This promises to be a revelation, preparing for mass participation of ordinary farmers around Better Globe’s plantation sites, where both the community and Better Globe stand to gain.