BACK TO EDEN

Restoring flora and fauna of Bova community back to its 1980 condition or better, while combining indigenous knowledge & modern technology.

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Eligibility Criteria

  • I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Act for Biodiversity Challenge and that I am eligible to apply.
  • I am 18 years old or older.

Initiative's representative name

Mr Robert Mtombeni

Initiative's representative date of birth

13 January 1983

Initiative's representative gender

  • Man

Headquarters location: country

  • Zimbabwe

Headquarters location: city

Harare

Where are you making a difference?

Zimbabwe, in a rural area called Gokwe, in Bova community

Website or social media url(s)

www.practicalagrosolutions.com

Date Started

November 2016

Project Stage

  • Established (successfully passed early phases, have a plan going forward)

Yearly Budget : What is your current yearly budget for the initiative?

  • €100k - €250k

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.

I Robert, was born in Bova community of Gokwe, back then, the forests used to provide us with wild fruits, herbs and vegetables, the fields were fertile or good enough for my family to grow crops. This has changed, the forests are no longer habitants of wild animals or provider of nutritious wild fruits, herbs and vegetables, and nothing can now grow in the fields without fertilizers. We have tested the goodness of life when nature provided, during the 1980s. We have also faced the challenges of today, when nature no longer provides due to human activities that have negatively affected our environment and biodiversity. With those two experiences, we agreed as the community, to do everything that it takes for us to restore the situation.

2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Human activities such as unsustainable hunting and agricultural practices have negatively affected the ecosystem of my community. This has resulted to food insecurity and contamination or complete dry up of natural water sources such as rivers and springs. Solving this problem will ensure food security for both humans and animals, and it will restore the biodiversity or ecosystem of my community, hence when mother nature is happy, every creature will be happy.

3. Your solution: How are you working to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

We are teaching communities about sustainable use of natural resources such as water and land, one such example is the introduction of the "pfumvudza" plot concept, video available on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_KErAAHrM4 We have also introduced moringa planting in communities, as a tool that can help address both the issue of soil conservation and climate change, more information on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWU_yRMn7yY Furthermore, we have partnered with Ecocert S.A to encourage organic farming, where we encourage and teach the community to no longer use synthetic chemicals and fertilizers. The community likes this initiative because Ecocert issues them with an internationally recognised certificate that enables them to sale their produce as organic certified, hence generating more income, as organic foods fetch a higher price on most international markets, especially in the developed world.

4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?

We are combining indigenous knowledge and modern technology to develop solutions that are based on scientific research, proved and tested methods that worked well in the past. Traditionally, in my community, the nearest clinic was 10km away, but families used to be healthier than now back then, why? With the help of Bindura University of Science and Technology, we have found out people were healthier due to a healthy and balanced diet they used to consume, hence the need to include such traditional foods in our diets, back to "Eden". Our approach is community based, in the community, with the community, for the community, unlike other organizations that imposes solutions on communities, our solutions are derived from the community.

5. Collaboration: How does your initiative seek to bring key players together to preserve biodiversity?

We are working with Bindura University of Science and Technology, SIRDC ( a government research institution), Ecocert S.A ( International organic certification body) and Foundations for Farming Trust (an organisation that teaches communities on sustainable farming). We are also working with technology companies such as D.F.M Technologies and Afri Agri-Tech, as these provides us with tools to remotely monitor our work using satellite and GIS softwares. All these collaborations are available on our website www.practicalagrosolutions.com

6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far — in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?

Over 3000 inhabitants of Bova community are participating and reaping the benefits of engaging in sustainable agricultural practices. 3 commercial farms in Zimbabwe, with a combined total area of 3760 ha of land are now organic certified, these are Nyamuli farm (Cheerland Pvt Ltd), Geluck Farm and Watershed Farm (Nutraleaf Ltd). These are available on the Ecocert website http://southafrica.ecocert.com/ A rural orphan care center called HCOC Zimbabwe, is now on the path to becoming self sustaining and able to feed over 1400 school children daily, due to practising organic farming.

7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?

We will continue to work with Ecocert S.A to have more rural and small scale farmers being organically certified so that they can export their produce. We will also involve more commercial farmers into organic farming. We have already started engaging with partners in South Africa, Malawi and Rwanda, for us to expand to those countries.

8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for society? Or different stakeholders?

We are ensuring food security for the rural and small holder farmers who are now engaged in sustainable organic farming. We are also ensuring the provision of healthy nutritious organic certified food for people in the developed world, who will be buying the food stuff from our organic certified farmers and communities.

9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

Companies that wish to delete or offset their carbon footprints, can fund the planting of moringa in communities through us, moringa absorbs carbon 20 times more than other general trees. In the long term, the project should be self sustaining through selling of high value organic certified food from our demo plots and partner farmers.

10. Team: what is the current composition of your current team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?

Our team is comprised of agronomists, who are Mr Robert Mtombeni and Mr Shingirai Kubare, Academias such as Dr Cris Gadzirai and Dr Marianna Smith. We plan to work with other local people as we grow. Full team can be viewed on our team section on www.practicalagrosolutions.com

11. How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media

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