Trees Growing Livelihoods and Community in Tanzania

By Andrew Youn, President, One Acre Fund

One Acre Fund, a US pledge, works in sub-Saharan Africa to enable small scale farmers to grow trees. Andrew Youn, president, shares how the nonprofit’s work not only impacts the environment, but the life of one farmer and his community.

Trees are a green engine for farmer livelihood. Agroforestry — the practice of planting trees on farms — can boost rural farmers’ food production, income, and climate resilience. When tree-planting programs are driven by the people they serve, the entire community benefits.

This is Dunstan Mlimuka, a father of two, who lives in Mgama Village of Iringa District in Tanzania. Dunstan is a tree nursery manager for One Acre Fund, producing seedlings for a range of tree species including Grevillea, Casuarina, Dovyalis, Acacia, and Acrocarpus. While he initially only produced timber trees, he recently expanded to produce fruit trees after seeing a strong market for apples and avocados. This year, he’s aiming to produce over 30,000 seedlings for farmers in his community.

Dunstan receives training from One Acre Fund on nursery management techniques, tree care, and sustainable farming practices, which help him grow tree seeds into strong young seedlings for farmers to plant on their farms.

Dunstan sells his thousands of tree seedlings to other local farmers who offer a ready market. This creates steady income for Dunstan and ensures quality tree seedlings are available within his community.

Dunstan’s customer base has expanded thanks to farmer demand for his fruit trees. Fruit trees diversify farm families’ diets and offer a new source of resilient long-term profits.

Dunstan finds immense satisfaction in seedling production. “I like working in the community for the good of the community,” he says; “I wanted to be a part of it.” Today, Dunstan is one of more than 2,000 tree nursery entrepreneurs that One Acre Fund has helped to mobilize, growing rapidly.