Nyayo Tea Zones Development Corporation apart from being established to guard against encroachment also provides a component of livelihood to the communities. After several years of focus on conservation, the government realized that the previous strategies were not so successful. Despite the efforts, the forest cover was receding to below 10% forcing the government to revisit the strategies employed to curb forest encroachment and destruction. A strategy to incorporate a component of livelihood support for peri-forest communities was then devised. This led to the establishment of the tea buffers with the agenda to provide livelihood support to peri-forest communities who were otherwise dependent on the forest for subsistence. In all NTZDC areas of operation, tea farms belts have been selected and established as the preferred buffer because tea is a perennial cash crop that can be harvested throughout the year.
Buffer establishment in all areas of operation has been locally driven with every task completed using local labor. There has not been any mechanization even in land preparation, planting nor maintenance of the buffer zones. This has been intentional to enhance local community engagement allowing them to not only earn livelihoods from the tea, but also own the projects.
To date, NTZDC directly supports the livelihoods of between 10,000 to 12,000 people who operate in the buffer zones on daily basis. The casual workers complement the Corporation’s staff of about 670 workers at head level, regional offices who are engaged in operations as well as our factories.