Food industry execs take on Farm Africa's Thousand Trees challenge

Farm  Africa

Farm Africa

Standard Supplier 18th October 2019

Food industry execs take on Farm Africa's Thousand Trees challenge

This week, a group of eight senior businesswomen from the UK food and farming industry headed to Uganda to face the challenge of planting 1000 trees in just three days. Together, the team aims to raise £75,000 for Farm Africa's work helping farming families across eastern Africa escape poverty.

The Thousand Trees challenge group of executives from Devenish, Moy Park, Tulip Foods, Fairburns Eggs, Finsbury Foods, Kettle Produce and Vitacress Salads travelled to the remote town of Kanungu in western Uganda to volunteer alongside female coffee farmers who are working with Farm Africa to sustainably boost coffee yields and earn more from their agricultural efforts.

Coffee is Uganda’s most valuable crop, and the majority of the country’s beans ends up in the cups of European coffee drinkers. Despite coffee’s profit-making potential, many of Kanungu’s coffee farmers struggle to make ends meet. In 2018, with co-funding from the European Union, Farm Africa started supporting 4,800 coffee farmers in Kanungu by offering training in the sustainable production of high-quality coffee so that they can meet lucrative coffee markets’ high standards.

Limited labour, processing, finance, commercial services and information about coffee production stop farmers from providing a good life for their families. Poverty has forced many of Kanungu’s residents to fell trees for timber. Forest loss has contributed to falling soil quality and, consequently, coffee yields.

A new phase of the project, funded by UK government matched funding for Farm Africa’s recent Coffee is Life appeal, launched in September 2019 and focuses on providing women in Kanungu with the support they need to increase their incomes and earn a fair share of profits from coffee. Currently women do up to 65% of the labour in the Kanungu coffee sector, but receive very little of the profits.

Speaking on the second day of the challenge, Moy Park's Jenni Gowdy commented: “What we learnt about tree planting.... It's all about the soil!!! As it varies so much from farm to farm. For example, it took us two hours to plant 28 trees yesterday. Today, we planted 180 in five hours. Mainly due to the fact that today's soil was much softer and clay-like, as opposed to dry with larger boulders. Not fully-fledged aborists yet, but certainly trying our best. Please continue to donate to such a worthy challenge as it really does make a difference and provides a sustainable revenue stream for the local families. ”

The group worked alongside young female Ugandan agricultural entrepreneurs to dig 1000 holes by hand and plant avocado, jackfruit and mango trees on over 80 acres of farmland in just three days. The fruit trees will not only boost soil quality and food security but provide coffee plants with shade; Arabica coffee beans naturally grow under tree shade.

So far, the team has raised nearly £46,000. Sponsorship donations can be made online at www.justgiving.com/teams/thousandtrees

The Thousand Trees challenge is one of the events organised this year as part of Farm Africa’s Food For Good network, which unites the global food and farming businesses behind the power of food to change lives in support of Farm Africa’s work driving agricultural and environmental change across eastern Africa.