Mary Mbiti is a Tea Extension Services assistant at Kiegoi Tea Factory in Meru, Kenya. In over a decade in the job she has witnessed many changes, one of the most remarkable of which has been the variations in her local environment due to climate change.
Day-to-day, her job involves visiting tea farmers and helping to educate them in producing better yields, demonstrating how to pluck tea, applying fertilizer, and pruning techniques. A joint project from CPF and Kiegoi Tea Factory has enabled Mary to receive training in climate change adaptation techniques, which she is now passing on to tea farmers.
Mary believes that the project has increased farmers’ awareness of environmental concerns, “especially on climate change; because so many growers have been taught on river bank protection, they have planted indigenous trees. Farmers have practiced what they were taught.”
Project activities have encouraged farmers to diversify the crops they plant in addition to tea, to make their farming practices and livelihoods more resilient to changing climatic conditions. CPF has also provided funds to enable non-native trees such as eucalyptus to be replaced with indigenous species which are more suited to the local environment and help to preserve scarce water resources.
“They have uprooted the non-eco-friendly trees and planted the eco-friendly trees. The factory has given them the seedlings for the eco-friendly trees to replace the trees they have cut down.”
Looking to the future, Mary is confident that the work she is doing will have a positive impact for smallholders. “If we go on with the trainings and the way people are taking up things…the climate will improve.”