Employees from Bidvest company, Konica Minolta South Africa, along with representatives from South Africa's national greening and food gardening social enterprise, Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA) and carbon advisory firm, Promethium Carbon, as well as members of the media, all rolled up their sleeves today to kick off the planting of 4,600 bamboo plants in the impoverished Blue Disa community in Lawley, south of Johannesburg.
In the six years since Konica Minolta South Africa started working with Food & Trees for Africa, the company has donated a colossal 18,178 fruit and indigenous trees to schools and communities across the country. The huge success of this initiative led the company to investigate further ways to demonstrate its commitment to taking proactive steps in addressing climate change, whilst uplifting impoverished communities.
Alan Griffith, managing director of Konica Minolta South Africa, explains: "Towards the end of last year we planted five hundred River Bush Willow trees at Blue Disa. However, just as Konica Minolta South Africa likes to keep moving with the times, so do our corporate social initiatives and this site has now received 4,600 bamboo plants through FTFA's Bamboo for Africa programme. This is an exciting programme as it offers opportunities for clean energy production and enterprise development, whilst providing skills and plant material to disadvantaged communities, helping them to enter the Green Economy."
Bamboo for Africa is one of FTFA's six national programmes. It is also the first internationally verified bamboo carbon offset programme through the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS). Bamboo for Africa projects are usually implemented alongside a FTFA FEED (Farmer Eco Enterprise Development) farm, which develops organic vegetable enterprises for emerging farmers. These farms produce vegetables, which are sold in formal markets and it is these vegetable enterprises that support the farmers financially until the bamboo is ready for harvest, which can take between four to seven years.
"Bamboo is an incredible plant. It is the fastest growing and largest grass on the planet, a single 15-centimetre seedling will reach up to 20 metres in height and five metres in width. The harvested product has around 1,500 known uses, across many industries from textiles to furniture to bioenergy. By planting these 4,600 bamboo plants, we will be providing sustainable livelihoods for the Blue Disa community. The farm is owned by 200 primary growers and their families and 150 project participants will be adding value to the yields from the bamboo plantation," Griffith continues.
"Through our work with FTFA we have not only managed to reforest some of South Africa's most impoverished areas, but were also able to offset our direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions for the 2013 financial year, making us officially carbon neutral. The bamboo plants donated by Konica Minolta South Africa to Blue Disa cover 20 hectares and will help us to offset 6,280 tonnes of carbon over seven years," he explains.
"At Konica Minolta South Africa, we are dedicated to highlighting the essential role that trees and grasses like bamboo - play in sustainable development and the livelihoods of people and their environment, now and for the future," concludes Griffith.