Home News One cashew tree planted in Slovakia will symbolically resemble 1 000 000 planted in Africa
State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic planted a tree cashew seed together with representatives of the Visegrad Four (V4) and EU countries in the Botanical Garden of Comenius University in Bratislava. Symbolically, it ended the joint project of the V4 and the EU, implemented in Kenya, named Enhancement of Livelihoods in the Kenyan Coastal Region by Supporting Organic and Fair Trade Certification of Smallholders.
The Slovak Republic has been focusing on ecology and sustainable use of natural resources for more than a decade within the framework of official development assistance (ODA SR). In Kenya, which is one of the three ODA program countries of the Slovak Republic, this focus is strongly present in the implementation of projects in several parts of the country, on the coast and in the highlands.
When the EU Delegation in Nairobi was looking for project partners in 2017, Slovakia approached colleagues from the V4 countries to callk tham to take a part in overseeing the implementation, which ran from September 2017 to 31 May this year.
It has been the combination of a contribution of € 1.9 million from the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa (EUTF for Africa), together with the coordination and expertise of the V4 countries, that has had a positive impact on the Kenyan coast, more specifically in the coastal areas of Kilifi, Kwale and Lamu, which the Secretary of State visited during her visit to Kenya earlier this year.
The aim of this project was to develop local communities through renewed BIO and Fair Trade certified cashew nut production.
Today we can say that it has largely succeeded. More than 16,000 trained farmers are part of a certified cashew growing program.
For certified BIO and Fair Trade nuts, small farmers receive 15% to 20% more than with a regular purchase. The expected average increase in the total income of the farmer's family who undergoes training and takes all the recommended measures is up to 50%.
During the implementation of the project, 26 Associations of Village Savings and Loans with 617 members were established to help farmers finance small loans and make finance available.
In the last four and a half years, almost 1 million cashew tree seedlings have been planted.
Thanks to sustainable agroforestry, farmers are becoming more resilient to climate change. New cashew trees prevent soil erosion, maintain moisture during droughts, and provide shade for plants and animals. They are planted to improve biodiversity, not as monocultures, and are grown organically.
The project prevented deforestation and desertification in the equator. Long-lived cashew trees can absorb large amounts of excess carbon emissions, so in addition to the benefits for small farmers, these 1 million trees are able to absorb 50 million kilograms of CO2 per year. Because the climate knows no borders, trees planted in Africa help protect the atmosphere of our entire common planet Earth and also reduce our ecological footprint.
Successful implementation of the project would not be possible without the main implementation partner - the Slovak NGO Integra Foundation, which operates in Kenya through its subsidiary TSA Cashew.
Also, even without agricultural specialists from the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague, who provided training on cashew nuts, they prepared a basic study of the project and are currently completing the final evaluation of the project. The team of the Hungarian University of Agriculture and Natural Sciences provided valuable expertise on the collection and processing of cashew nuts. Irrigation, water and soil protection experts from the Polish NGO Foundation Science for Development have advised on providing cost-effective irrigation systems for cashew nurseries.
The completed project is therefore an example of how cooperation between Central European countries can bear fruit (or nuts) in Kenya. The tree, which germinates from the seeds planted in Slovakia today, will imaginarily connect continents and common values aimed at mutual help between man and nature.