Business Day (Johannesburg)

South Africa: Indigenous Trees Feed Rural Families

Durban — Hundreds of rural families, many of whom are child-headed households, are securing sound incomes by growing indigenous trees from the seeds found in local forests and using the saplings as currency.

The project, which aims to help people out of poverty, got a boost yesterday when 100 new bicycles, food, clothing and building materials became the anchor products for a range of stores that will barter trees for goods.

According to the 2001 census, the total number of households headed by children under the age of 19 in the country was 248424.

The Indigenous Trees for Life project is spearheaded by the Wildlands Conservation Trust, a nongovernmental organisation concerned with conservation-based community development in KwaZulu-Natal.

That project began last year with the concept of encouraging children living near indigenous forests to gather and plant the seeds and sell the young trees to pay for school fees.

Unilever and Investec bought the trees from the youngsters and sold them to nurseries and landscaping companies.

Dubbed "tree-preneurs", the youngsters have sold the trees for greening projects in rural areas, townships and new commercial nodes such as the Umhlanga Ridge north of Durban.

Trees for Life programme manager Charmaine Veldman said when several youngsters bartered for new bicycles earlier this year, the directors realised the initiative could be expanded beyond paying for school fees.

The Wildlands Conservation Trust is also negotiating with Unilever for its surplus production to be made available to the tree stores, while a supermarket chain is considering donating food vouchers in exchange for the trees.

The trust is also encouraging firms to hold corporate drives to donate goods to the tree stores.

Ads by Google

Copyright © 2005 Business Day. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.