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Contents  |  Day 4  |  Day 5

Day 5 - The Sosoma Plantation

February 17th 2009

Program:
- Breakfast, check out and loading the bus 7am-8am
  (from Mwingi Cottage Hotel)
- Bus Katumba Rock 8am-9:30am
- Katumba Rock, Sosoma 9:30am-11am
- Bus Better Globe's office in Nairobi 11am-4:15pm
- Better Globe's office in Nairobi 4:15pm-5pm
- Bus Methodist Guest House, Nairobi, 5pm-5:15pm
- Bus Carnivore 7:15pm-8pm
- Dinner, Carnivore 8pm-12am
- Bus Methodist Guest House 12am-12:45am

 

About 8 am we got on the bus, bound for Katumba Rock to see the Sosoma area where our next plantation will be located. On our way we picked up Mr. Mabuti, the local leader and Secretary of Sosoma Ranch Society. At the foot of Katumba Rock some chose to walk the hill by foot, a distance of nearly one kilometre. The others got lift on the jeep. On the top we could view this enormous area while Jan briefed us about the plans for the tree planting starting up here and about all the necessary preparations that must be done. All the vegetation must be shuffled down, carved and mixed into the soil to make it more nutritious and able to hold on the fertilizer and moist in the ground.

Better Globe has now a contract of 60,000 hectares of land to plant trees. If this project is successful we can make use of an option of another 60,000 hectares. The signed contract is for 99 years with a possible extension. A lot of work has been done to reach where we are now.

We will mainly plant Acasia Senegal (gum arabic) but some Mukau also. The research laboratory in Belgium is now looking for the best suited plants for this area. Better Globe will start a rather small scale production in the beginning and increase after some time. It is much better to do it in a small scale rather than a large if something should fail. It is easier to adjust the work this way before going big.

Tree planting in such a big scale will lead to both environmental and social changes. Both the Government and Better Globe have made Environmental Impact Assessments. The social consequence is a part of Mr. Matubi’s responsibility. He sees the large positive changes which will have a great impact on the standards of living, by creating many job opportunities, training for the farmers in Kibwezi, education for the children at the Child Africa schools and the possibilities microfinance will give. Better Globe's Donation Packages are therefore a very important factor in our work to carry through the tree planting in a best possible way, regarding the environment and the social conditions being affected by a plantation project of this size. Instead of getting the locals against us we get them with us and everyone understands the possibilities and advantages such cooperation gives.

Better Globe Forestry's Office

We left Katumba Rock at 11 am and went via Mutuu to Nairobi where we reached Better Globe's office at 4:15 pm. We agreed with Rino to skip lunch to save time. It was not smart specially thinking of the blood sugar levels, but this way we got some more time to spend at the Better Globe Office, which also is Jean-Paul’s home place. At the office we watched a preview on TV showing Better Globe donating money to the Sosoma area as an emergency aid, we learned about a possible cooperation with a known artist and furniture designer, Rampelberg, and about how Better Globe Mukau can be used. We bought a Mukau bat designed by the mentioned artist.

Methodist Guest House

After a 45 minutes visit at the Better Globe Office we arrived at this night’s lodge, Methodist Guest House, at 5:15pm. At that time we hadn’t had any food for 10 hours. We had a couple of hours at the lodge before leaving for dinner. Some of us found time for a sandwich before getting ready for an elegant dinner at Carnivore. And some of us had to borrow the shower from their neighbour because of low water pressure. At 7:15pm we were all ready to head on and went by the bus to Carnivore Game Restaurant. We were all hungry and were ready for a very big dinner!

Carnivore Game Restaurant

What an atmosphere at Carnivore! The meat we were served was grilled on a large charcoal barbeque. We tasted lamb, pork, beef, chicken, ostrich, and crocodile! All with it’s special sauce. The waiters came to the table constantly and sliced pieces of meat for our plates. Not before putting down the flag on the table the gluttony stopped! Jan-Tore had the largest portion this evening… (as all the other nights by the way as well). After 4 hours of eating and drinking we returned to the hotel around midnight. The mosquitoes had some good meals that night...

 

Contents  |  Day 4  |  Day 5

 

Special News
By Jean-Paul Deprins

Sosoma Tree Plantation

In May 2008, Better Globe Forestry Ltd signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Sosoma Ranching Co-op Society Ltd. The ranch occupies 60,705 hectares and had been allocated by the Ministry of Land to the Sosoma Cooperative Ranching Society (SCRS) in 1991. It is located in eastern Mwingi district, some 200 kilometres east north east from Nairobi. In 2005, SCRS had a membership of 769. However, it was considered dormant, as no organised activities were taking place. In the early years of the Society, ranching proved impossible as all the cattle died.

The place is really hot and dry as the following data demonstrate. The average yearly rainfall is between 300-500 millimetres, decreasing from west to east. The expected annual rains, with a 60 per cent probability (six years out of 10), for the western half of the ranch would be between 300-400 millimetres, and less than 300 millimetres for the eastern side of the ranch. In fact, November is the only month with reliable rain in all years, with 90-115 millimetres in 60 per cent of all years.

The average annual evaporation is between 1,900-2,400 millimetres. Temperatures are high, with a mean annual 24-30 celsius degrees, and an absolute minimum of 10-16 celsius degrees. Average monthly temperatures range from 27-29 celsius degrees (March) to 24-26 celsius degrees (July).

However, the place also offers some advantages. Topography is flat, favouring mechanised work. The area mostly has deep soils with very little rock, allowing for soil improvement practices. In addition, it is a big, continuous area, alongside the major Nairobi-Garissa highway.

Before planting properly can start, various studies need to be done. These include feasibility studies, an environmental impact assessment, a soil survey, a topographical survey, a base line to establish existing vegetation, a base line in the buffer zone, for defining community development action and an overall management plan.

Currently, studies are being conducted for water supply, as through boreholes, and location of earth dams. The local authorities, up to Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, the area Member of Parliament, (who is also a member of the Society) receive regular briefs on the progress of the project, and fully approve of our intervention. Feasibility studies are taking place, and an environmental impact assessment is in the pipeline.

This project focuses on planting mukau (Melia volkensii) and Acacia senegal and the production of gum arabic, as a way of extracting value out of drylands with harsh climatic conditions. It is complementary to another BGF project in the same Eastern Province, where other species like Jatropha curcas and Azadirachta indica (neem) have been planted for production of bio-diesel, glycerine and oil for plant protection.

 

Contents  |  Day 4  |  Day 5

On our way to
the Sosoma Plantation
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Better Globe Forestry's office
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Carnivore Game Restaurant
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