Kenya Placeholder

Empowering smallholder farmers to adopt Tea Tree production for improved livelihoods and increased climate change resilience

About the Implementing organization

Name: Kenya Organic Agriculture Network (KOAN)

Country: Kenya

Year of establishment: 2005

Type of organization: Cooperative business


KOAN seeks to improve agricultural production and market systems for smallholder farmers in Laikipia county for the purpose of increasing farm resilience to climate change, increasing household income, attaining food security, and maintenance of natural capital for improved livelihoods of rural communities. The project integrates income generation and self-employment on farms through the introduction of new cash generating tea tree, (a more climate resilient oil-based tree) and adoption of organic agricultural technologies. The project proactively works with farmers to improve their production systems and link them to markets. Deliberate efforts are made to ensure participation of women and youth. This intervention enhances household incomes, employment creation, food security and contributes to climate change mitigation.

Nature Element


Type of Action

Sustainable use / Awareness and education

Sustainable Development Element

Jobs and livelihoods / Food security

Related Sustainable Development Goal(s)


Environmental Impacts

By adoption of Organic Technologies farmers and community at large experience the following benefits; reduced use of synthetic pesticide leading to reduced pollution in soil and water, increased soil water retention, improved soil water fertility and compaction.

A training on Biochar making and use has been organised for the farmers. Biochar has been found to increase soil fertility and water retention capacity of the soil, especially in dry areas. From the preliminary findings on the demo Garden, 98% of Tea Tree seedlings planted with biochar did better that those planted without. In this regard, Earth Oil requested farmers to use Biochar on their farms. The project supported the purchase of a biochar maker at the cost of Kshs 48,000 to be used in training farmers on how to make biochar.

Sustainable Development Impacts

Jobs and livelihoods
Jobs are created at 2 levels; (i) on the farms where casual/unskilled labour is required and (ii) at Earth Oil, which has several professional staff, ranging from office administrators to accountants, to community mobilizers, and trainers.
As farmers put their lands to productive use, and as they switch to more sustainable farming methods, a notable improvement to livelihoods is observed. Farms produce more, harvests are larger, more food available fo the household, and extra is sold in the market, increasing the share of disposable income.

Food security
Beyond growing tea tree, farmers are encouraged to diversify crops and animals; to promote food and nutrition security.
given that the lands are in areas that are prone to dry weather conditions, the farmers are encouraged to grow indigenous crops that can grow with little need fo water, and that can grow within a short time.


There are many farmers who want to join the KOAN - Earth Oil initiative because they have seen the benefits enjoyed by participating farmers.

The county government of Laikipia also recognises the value of the initiative and provided funds worth SHS 6.4 million (USD 64,000) to develop and implement an organic agriculture program, countywide.

In a period of the last 5 years, the number of participating farmers has grown significantly.


Three-quarters of the land in Kenya is found in the arid and semi-arid regions of the country. the wet and productive areas with rich soils, where farming occurs, is densely populated. many farmers are moving into the drier areas and carrying out farming practices that are not suitable.

The growing of tea tree combined with hardy crops and using organic principles, will fetch better incomes and keep the soils fertile and the scope for replication is high. the challenge would be to set up the processing plant that extracts oil from tea tree and processes it for the pharmaceutical industry.

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