An Interview with Seedballs Kenya

Seedballs Kenya is an organization which was founded by companies called Chardust Ltd. and Cookswell, with the intention of developing biomass energy industry and boosting its sustainability by increasing the presence and use of local tree species. They provide the continuity of the project by selling directly to a vision that varies according to the donor’s claim or by utilizing the amount of seed as much as the amount donated. More than two million seedballs have been donated since 2016, according to the site of Seedballs Kenya, which has also partnered with many other companies and various ecological initiatives. The organization became more popular in social media thanks to video shared on Facebook page called We Need This. When I saw the video which was widely shared in ecology movement, I wanted to communicate with them, hoping that we shared a similar vision.

From where did you adopt the concept of seedballs?

From Google. The concept of adding a protective coating to plant seeds is a very old one and we have adapted it to fit our local conditions here in Kenya. We have a focus on using old waste charcoal dust to give life to a whole new generation of trees.

How many acres has Seedballs Kenya scattered seedballs until now? 

We are not planting plantation type forests and do not use acres to measure our planting efforts. After all some people want 1 tree per acre and others want 1,000 depending on land use management. We have sold to date more then 2,000,000 seedballs all over Kenya though and they have anywhere from a 10%-90% success rate depending on many factors like weather, browsing, on farm planting etc.

In making of seedballs, water, clay and soil mixture is commonly used. What kind of benefits do chardust and the other nutritious binders have?

Biochar has some unique soil improvement properties like activated charcoal, due to its immense surface area and absorptive properties. It’s about the best thing that can be wrapped around a seed to give it a boost during germination.

The biochar coating of the ball helps protect the seed within from predators such as birds, rodents and insects and extremes of temperature until the rains arrive. Once soaked, the seedball with it’s now gelatinous binder will help retain and prolong a moist environment around the seed to encourage germination.

Can you tell us about your partnership with Mara Elephant Project? How do you contribute to this project?

We have recently set up a direct seedball donation portal for people to send seedballs to the Escape Foundation/Mara Elephant Project.

On your BBC interview, you mention that Seedballs Kenya hopes to provide new sources of income for the farmers. Do you have any ongoing projects for this (like organizing the farmers around a cooperative or supporting the communities)?

Yes we buy our seeds directly from the Kenya Forest Research Institute (KEFRI) who buys in part many of their seeds through local communities all over Kenya. As our seed demand increases we will increased our seed purchasing through them

How do you keep track of the areas after you scatter the seedballs there? Can you share the processes that follow?

We supply our seedballs to many different people and groups all over Kenya – we encourage them to send in photos via wassap and social media and we also visit the test sites that we are able to.

Can you talk about the Chardust & Cookswell partnership? How did this partnership start? ? What kind of activities do they carry out, both together and separately?

Chardust Ltd. Has been at the forefront of recycling waste charcoal dust to make cooking briquettes and Cookswell Jikos has been designing and manufacturing improved cookstoves/BBQs and ovens for over 30 years. Since both companies have always had a strong interest in making the biomass energy industry more sustainable by growing the trees needed for future use, this was a perfect match. Chardust Ltd. Manufactures them and Cookswell jikos markets them.

We read that you came together with children from Kwamwatu Primary School and made a workshop with them. Do you have any other children-related projects planned?

Yes the youth are the Future! We work with many groups who get kids planting trees in all ways including seedballs – (like https://www.facebook.com/pg/houseofplentyinternational/photos/?tab=album&album_id=451557058604875 and also http://www.seedballskenya.com/land-life/4594363510)

You have many benefactors. How do you maintain connection with those?  Can you tell us about other projects that you have with those benefactors (if you have any)?

Our benefactors are our esteemed customers who have supported us by buying seedballs to go and plant. We are an eco-entrepreneurially driven company and we invest all our seedball profits back into more seedballs.

What would you advise to those who want to carry out projects that are similar to yours?

We feel that it is most important to promote the use, understanding and further growth of trees and plants that are indigenous to where you are living. Local biodiversity is facing huge challenges all over the world and one of the main aims of the Seedballs Kenya program is to not only grow new trees in Kenya for future use, but to also protect old trees here for seeds and also to grow seed orchards of local rare and useful species of trees for future planting.

For further information: http://www.seedballskenya.com

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