mukau

Advent Calendar – December 23, 2019

Advent Calendar – December 23, 2019

December 23, 2019
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Mukau.
It’s a beautiful tree.
This plot of mukau at the Nyongoro plantation reminds me of Swedish birch forests.

I’ve never really been one to dig deep into specific facts on trees, but I do have a thing for them. Have for a long time. As a funny aside, I’ve been married, twice. First marriage gave me the surname Skog, which is Swedish for forest. Second marriage had me go deeper, as Roth (in Swedish) is pronounced as the Swedish word for root. Perhaps my fondness for trees is yet one more reason why I’ve fallen so hard for this way to use my savings in this win-win-win-scheme?

Going on the customer trip in June, I certainly learned a lot more about the Mukau, or Melia volkensii as it’s named in Latin. It’s a hardwood tree, in the same family as mahogany. It’s native to these parts of Kenya. It was at risk of disappearing, due to over-exploitation on account of its durability and excellent qualities, but is now on the rise, rapidly. Better Globe Forestry’s tree expert Jan Vandenabeele plays a part in that, which you can see in the acknowledgments of the Kenya Forest Service Guideline to On-Farm Melia volkensii, Growing in the Dryland Areas of Kenya

As a hardwood, it warrants a higher price on the raw material market than many other types of timber, but Better Globe Forestry does not intend to sell the wood as raw material. Rather, they are looking at setting up a sawmill, to ensure the refinement of the wood stays local. Given the richness of the African continent when it comes to natural resources, it’s a continent that should be wealthy. But it’s just this fact, that raw materials are removed rather than refined on-site, which has enriched so many other countries outside of Africa, especially those who’ve previously had colonies. Keeping the value-adding-chain in the country will lead to more job opportunities. And in a country of high unemployment, that’s a definitive plus!


Advent Calendar for 2019: sharing pictures and stories/reflections from my trip to Kenya in June. I went to visit “my trees” and get a hands-on experience of the social entrepreneurship of the Kenyan forestry company that I buy trees through.

Full disclosure: I am proud to say I am both a customer and an ambassador for the company. If you are curious to find out more, let me know and I’ll gladly get in touch with you! Here’s my sponsored link: https://betterglobe.com/27216 

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Advent Calendar – December 19, 2019

December 19, 2019
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Mukau trees at Nyongoro, with one of our two buses in front of the magnificent baobab tree; the green leafage proof that the climate here – closer to the ocean – differs from Kiambere, where there were no leaves on the baobab trees. As stunning as these trees are with their green finery, when the only thing you see is the very peculiar and unique silhouette of the tree itself, without leaves, it’s even more special. Not for nothing are they called the life of trees.

At the Nyongoro plantation which is a total of 32 000 hectares large, only about a thirtieth of the land has been planted, if my memory (and hearing during the visit) serves me. The Kiambere plantation has been visible on Google maps for years, and now you can see the Nyongoro plantation there as well.

However, the plantations are just one aspect of the tree plantation of Better Globe Forestry. Since 2016 there is an active and growing outgrower-program in place with partner farmers, some of whom we got to visit. Once contracted,  the partner farmers (about half of whom are women) basically get free business development from the Agroforestry Agents employed by Better Globe Forestry, helping the farmers in many ways, both relating to the planting and caring for the mukau trees themselves, as to how they can increase their yield by improved irrigation, mulching and so on.

One farmer we talked to told of mukau trees he’d planted before becoming a partner farmer, comparing them to the ones he’d planted since (with his newly gained knowledge, courtesy of the training he’s entitled to as a partner farmer). Guess what? In but a few years, the mukau trees he’d planted after becoming a Better Globe partner farmer had already outgrown the older trees. Knowledge of proper spacing, planting, watering, mulching and so on, transformed into practice makes a difference!


Advent Calendar for 2019: sharing pictures and stories/reflections from my trip to Kenya in June. I went to visit “my trees” and get a hands-on experience of the social entrepreneurship of the Kenyan forestry company that I buy trees through.

Full disclosure: I am proud to say I am both a customer and an ambassador for the company. If you are curious to find out more, let me know and I’ll gladly get in touch with you! Here’s my sponsored link: https://betterglobe.com/27216 

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Advent Calendar – December 8, 2019

December 8, 2019
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Worker of Better Globe Forestry at the nursery in Nyongoro, which has a capacity of half a million mukau-seedlings a year.

During my visit to Kenya in June 2019, I got to visit two Better Globe Forestry plantations, in Kiambere and in Nyongoro. The latter one has not had a lot of visitors since 2015, on account of being a bit too close to the Somalian border to be deemed safe. A few months prior to our visit, Torgny, a Swedish customer of Better Globe, went there on his own and wrote a really interesting chronicle describing his experience. The Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs still advises against traveling there, but luckily the customer trip of 2019 had this visit planned, with necessary safety precautions taken. And I must say, I am very grateful I got to visit this plantation as well.

The staff at Nyongoro were more curious about us visitors than the staff at Kiambere, which makes perfect sense. The Kiambere plantation is closer to Nairobi, started earlier (in 2006 as compared to 2012 for Nyongoro) and hence is a good place to bring visitors. This worker reminded me of the Aracuan Bird in the Donald Duck film Clown of the jungle. He was everywhere, wanting to be in all the photos, offering to pose for us, both here and there, which made for a lot of laughs!


Advent Calendar for 2019: sharing pictures and stories/reflections from my trip to Kenya in June. I went to visit “my trees” and get a hands-on experience of the social entrepreneurship of the Kenyan forestry company that I buy trees through.

Full disclosure: I am proud to say I am both a customer and an ambassador for the company. If you are curious to find out more, let me know and I’ll gladly get in touch with you! Here’s my sponsored link: https://betterglobe.com/27216 

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Advent Calendar – December 5, 2019

December 5, 2019
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One of the female workers at the Kiambere plantation, here in the inner sanctum of the nursery. Underneath the plastic sheets are teeny tiny mukau seedlings, which this nursery can produce 1 200 000 every year. That’s a heck of a lot of trees, and yet, it’s a far cry from what the company aims at. The vision of Better Globe Forestry is to eradicate poverty and corruption in Africa, and this will be accomplished through the mission, which reads: Through “social entrepreneurship” plant as many trees as there are people on the planet and thereby finance a successful implementation of the Vision. To accomplish this the company aim at planting a million trees a day!

This will make a huge difference in many ways, not in the least when it comes to providing job opportunities for people. Kenya has an unemployment -level of somewhere between 10-40% – I have not been able to find any definitive numbers, but it’s definitely a lack of job opportunities. By empowering people (for instance by providing them with a job) they can lift themselves from poverty. The Gapminder Foundation illustrative Dollar Street is a very visual way to see what happens when people do that. What seems to work better than anything else to raise entire families and communities from poverty is to empower women. This is one of the reasons why Better Globe Forestry has a large percentage of women workers.

I’ve just finished reading Melinda Gates’s book The moment of Lift and it’s filled with great examples of just this. In the introductory chapter, she writes: How can we summon a moment of lift for human beings–and especially for women? Because when you lift up women, you lift up humanity. And how can we create a moment of lift in human hearts so that we all want to lift up women? Because sometimes all that’s needed to lift women up if to stop pulling them down.


Advent Calendar for 2019: sharing pictures and stories/reflections from my trip to Kenya in June. I went to visit “my trees” and get a hands-on experience of the social entrepreneurship of the Kenyan forestry company that I buy trees through.

Full disclosure: I am proud to say I am both a customer and an ambassador for the company. If you are curious to find out more, let me know and I’ll gladly get in touch with you! Here’s my sponsored link: https://betterglobe.com/27216 

Read More