Gel placed in the planting hole
SAA’s planting programme starts in October so that the planting targets are completed by mid-January. Aqua Matrix gel is used to extend the planting season and to increase survival rates of newly planted seedlings prior to the onset of rains which usually come in December.
The gel, which comes in the form of powder, is prepared by putting 2kg into 200 litres of water in a drum while constantly agitating and the mix allowed to set for 30 minutes. Five litres of water is put into the planting hole before applying ½ a litre of the gel mix. The seedling is planted deep, so that its root bole is surrounded by the gel and the hole covered with dry soil about 10cm above the root collar.
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Planting trees on multiple sites of between 50-500 hectares is a different approach to forestry than that practiced elsewhere in Zimbabwe. This has meant adopting different strategies in fire prevention and fighting. SAA has recruited fire fighting teams within the community, and indications since the 2014 fire season suggest that this community based approach has had some success. Zimbabwe’s Environmental Management Agency (EMA) produces annual fire maps covering the whole country. Analyses of these fire maps on SAA’s planted areas for the 2013 and 2014 fire seasons show that there was a significant decrease in fire incidences as a result of fire management strategies employed by SAA. The maps will provide a benchmark against which SAA’s efforts on fire management will be continuously measured in future. Whilst EMA have been active on fire management, SAA believes that its strategies have had a positive impact and would be worth adopting countrywide. Voluntary community fire brigades are formed during fire training programmes and equipped to fight any fires that might occur in the locality. SAA recognizes the important work done by the fire brigades and provides them with protective clothing and a monthly honorarium. SAA has gone further to facilitate the formation of District Fire Commitees which will coordinate fire management at each cluster.
2013 Fire Maps for Chikomba District
2014 Fire Maps for Chikomba District
Crops such as soya and sugar beans, round nuts, ground nuts, etc. are encouraged for planting between tree rows to effectively utilize land during the first 2 years prior to canopy closure, to provide early financial returns to the farmer and to reduce fire risk to SAA’s plantations.
A credit facility in the form of production inputs valued at two years lease rental is offered to eligible farmers upon application.
Beekeeping and honey production offers a strong incentive for protection of the timber plantations by the farmer and local communities. As trees mature and start flowering, beekeeping and honey production will become a significant livelihood option for the local communities and partner farmers.
SAA plans to set up credit facilities in the near future to support honey production and processing. We will facilitate technical training and markets for the honey produced by our communities.