Kayonza Growers Tea Factory recognised for its Equator Prize Win

Apr 22, 2016

Some of the guests at the National Equator Prize Ceremony pose for a group photo. Kayonza Growers Tea Factory’s Chairman Gregory Mugabe, shows off their certificate and next to him is Ms. Rosa Malango, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative (in white on the left) and Isa Katwesigye, Senior Forest Officer, Ministry of Water and Environment (In green jacket on the right). (Photo Credit: UNDP Uganda 2016.)

Kampala - A local initiative, Kayonza Growers Tea Factory’s has been recognised for its outstanding contribution to environmental conservation, poverty and climate action all of which the agreement hopes to achieve during a ceremony in Kampala.

The recognition comes after it was selected and awarded the Equator Prize 2015 for its efforts in helping their community in Kanungu district, South Western Uganda to adapt to climate change. 

Ms. Rosa Malango, the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative described the event as special because it recognised a local community within Uganda that was advancing local solutions to what has now become a global challenge

“Many prizes for environmental conservation are awarded to individuals. The Equator Prize, however, is about collective action and community achievement. It is about people coming together to address common challenges, such as climate change and loss of biodiversity.” She said.

She added that community initiatives that win the prize show, through their actions, how the sustainable management of ecosystems is not only good for the environment. It also empowers local people and improves their livelihoods.

This is exactly what Kayonza Growers Tea Factory is doing, located next to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, one of Uganda’s oldest rainforests and home to 50 percent of the world’s mountain gorillas, it is a for-profit community enterprise, 100 percent owned by its 7,205 smallholder tea farmers.

With its community facing deforestation, wetland encroachment, soil degradation and water shortages, the initiative has worked to ensure that at least 70 percent of the population is involved in a landscape-scale, community-led climate change adaptation and mitigation strategy that addresses energy efficiency, food and income security and natural resource management.

Over 4,800 smallholders have benefited to date through the introduction of kitchen gardens and new staple or cash crops such as beans, banana, Irish potato, ground nuts and more. Across 52 eco-regions, more than 4,000 farmers have been trained in conserving wetlands, riverbanks and natural forests. Over 20,000 indigenous trees have been planted on farm borders and degraded hillsides. The initiative is a model of smallholder-led adaptation to climate change, integrated ecosystem restoration, reforestation and eco-agriculture.

“Our goal is to conserve the biodiversity of our entire areas of operation, for example we have planted trees to prevent landslides. These and other activities help us in our fight against degradation and climate change,” Gregory Mugabe, the Chairman of Kayonza Growers Tea Factory said while making a presentation on their work.

It is one of twenty-one community initiatives from across the world that were awarded the prize in 2015, selected from 1,461 nominations submitted by communities in 126 countries. The ceremony in Kampala follows an event held at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP21) in December in Paris, France.

“We thank Kayonza Growers Tea Factory for keeping Uganda's flag flying high through its various initiatives towards climate change adaptation,” Mr. Isa Katwesigye, a Senior Forestry officer with Minister of Water and Environment, who represent the Permanent Secretary said while presenting the award to the Kayonza team.

Katwesige also applauded their efforts in tree growing as it’s one of the key elements required to offset carbon as well as reduce the effects of climate change.

The celebration of Kayonza is one of the ways UNDP is marking the signing of the Paris Agreement & the Mother Earth day both of which are geared toward climate action.

The Paris agreement will be signed today by over 165 world leaders or their representatives including Uganda’s. The agreement which was reached in Paris in December 2015 is intended to limit enhance efforts towards climate action and achieving Sustainable Goal 13 on the same.

This year’s Mother Earth day’s theme is Trees for the Earth and it was selected because of the importance of trees in combating climate change and helping communities and their livelihoods.

All these are well captured in Kayonza’s local efforts towards providing a holistic model towards protecting their environment while still providing a livelihood for local farmers.

“We need to tell this story of Kayonza and others so that Uganda can be known everywhere as the best model on climate change adaptation efforts, particularly those that are community driven” Ms. Malango said.

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