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Case Studies

EPK Environmental Initiative

Eastern Produce Kenya abides by the principle of “wise-use” through education and hands-on practical management. This is key to a healthy environment and the future sustainability of tea operations and natural resources.

TARGETS & KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS

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OBJECTIVES

The program was conceived to meet the objectives as set out in the company’s environmental policy:

a. To recognize that economic development may result in both adverse and beneficial environmental change. Sustainable development seeks to maximize the potential of environmental resources, to mitigate any adverse impacts on the environment and where possible to increase the supply of environmental assets.

b. As part of our business objectives we therefore:

  • Seek the efficient use of natural resources
  • Seek investment opportunities where sound economic development is coupled with the protection and improvement of the environment
  • Avoid investments where impacts on communities and the environment have not been properly considered and mitigated in their design.
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HOW HAS THIS BEEN INTEGRATED INTO THE CORE STRATEGY?

1. EPK ensures that the environmental effects of its investments are assessed and monitored in the planning, implementation and operational stages.

2. The business is designed and operated to comply with the national legislation.

3. EPK will not knowingly support businesses which contravene any relevant international environmental agreement to which the country is a signatory.

4. EPK will assess the environmental standards and practices for planned projects and achieved by operational projects with reference to local regulations.

The success of the project has been the involvement of both employees and the surrounding community in conserving the environment. The rehabilitation of riverine areas has improved biodiversity and created sanctuary for indigenous Flora from the deforestation in surrounding areas. The use of forests and natural resources in traditional ceremonies and practices is part of the local community’s culture, by sustainably maintaining the diversity it assists in ensuring that indigenous knowledge and practices are maintained.

IMPACT

The result of the project is an environment rich in biodiversity and the conservation of natural resources (soil, water, fauna and Flora) through rehabilitation, conservation of resources and using natural resources in a responsible and sustainable manner. The sustainability and the coverage is summarized in the table below but the estates alone are 10612 Ha but the impact of the initiative can be felt over a larger area.


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As a result of our environmental conservation measures, Nandi hills is one of the few regions in Kenya that receives rainfall throughout the year consistently. The waterfalls and natural springs attract tourists, both local and international. Students from neighboring universities come for their research in Nandi as it is one of the remaining natural sites that one can come across in the world.

Our communities’ rich cultural heritage is maintained, with use of forests for traditional medicines, honey for food and sites for traditional ceremonies and prayers. The peoples usage of forests that include water collection from the natural springs, fuel wood, medicinal herbs, building poles and food all are attributed to environmental conservation.

Food security is realised as the consistent rainfall supports subsistence agriculture by the local communities.Organic waste from factories and homes are used in the small kitchen gardens enabling communities to make use of vegetables throughout the year. Herbs and spices like pepper are part of the kitchen gardens and bring in the concept of Integrated Pest Management, discouraging pests like aphids, where they lack host plants or are repelled by some certain species.

Our non-biodegradable waste from the factories, such as the bins, are recycled and used as flower pots, in the villages these containers are used for tree nurseries.

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AWARDS & CERTIFICATIONS

We have received recognition for our environmental conservation program that has encouraged our employees as well as our communities  to care more for the environment. With communities more aware of the rich environment in which they live, they act to ensure that it is maintained for future generations. This knowledge is important, as parents and local community members are the best influencers of younger generations. All projects are developed with a long-term view, to ensure that natural resources are utilized and conserved in a sustainable manner.

  • Enrichment of natural forests. Plant species having been identified as suitable and indigenous to the area and a list developed to guide management and employees as to their conservation and protection. These include medicinal, water preserving, bee and bird friendly and other fauna attractants to improve biodiversity. Plant and animal lists for the estates are being compiled and updated continuously. Natural regeneration of indigenous trees from natures seed bank and other techniques on natural forest management, including transects, have been implemented. Nurseries have been established and seedlings distributed to both the estates and surrounding communities to improve the catchment areas.
  • 30-50m strips of natural vegetation are being left along water catchments. This is in an effort to conserve the water resources of the area.
  • Industrial fuelwood plantations are regenerated through replanting and coppicing and managed on a sustainable basis.
  • Factories have been fitted with modern boilers that are efficient and consume less energy with more output.
  • The conservation of riverine areas and implementation of erosion reduction measures improve the quality and availability of water on the estates and the surrounding communities.
  • The constructed wetlands and containment of waste from the factories reduces the possibility of contamination of the water sources.
  • The self-sufficiency of the estates, in terms of fuelwood requirement reduces the necessity to expand commercial forestry or encroach into indigenous forest areas.
  • The use of energy saving Jikos (stoves) in the villages, has also reduced the necessity of the employees to obtain fuelwood from the natural forest areas.

The direct beneficiaries of the project are all 9000 employees, as well as the outgrowers, an additional 8500 families registered with EPK. In terms of families one could multiply this by an average of 4 members per family. This does not take into account those neighbouring the estates, who have a direct involvement with the Company. The total direct impact is on over 200,000 people.

INNOVATION

It is said that the best way to influence others is to lead by example; being at the forefront of environmental conservation has been our strategy to running a successful program. We lead in terms of forest management, waste management, and employee welfare and biodiversity conservation.

  • Use of constructed wetlands as a means of treating factory waste water
  • Improvement of employees houses
  • Introduction of a food security programme for employees
  • Indigenous forest management and enhancement
  • Empowerment of local communities ecomonically and socially
  • Use of energy saving stoves in employee houses 
  • Involvement of employees in decision making through environment committees

Our forest enrichment program involves planting trees native to Nandi hills. This assures us of successful reforestation as well as care for the different species of wild animals found within our indigenous forests.

We encourage communities to eat sustainable organic foods as our program has quantified the amount of nutrients found in each of the indigenous vegetables. We are able to see that their use has encouraged nutrient uptake in households involed in the Kitchen Gardens project.

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MANAGEMENT

EPK has a dedicated Technical Department that is responsible for implementing, monitoring and evaluating the impact that the companies operations have on the environment. Personnel within the Department include a Technical Development Manager, Compliance and Environment Manager, Community Liaisons Manager, Forestry Officer, Secretary and Laboratory Assistant. A total of 6 staff are dedicated to maintaining standards and measuring performance.

The laboratory conducts water quality analysis and co-ordinates the collection of leaf and soil samples as well as black tea for MRL analysis. This is to ensure we monitor the product quality and impact on the environment. The Technical Department co-ordinates the efforts of the group, developing strategies for implementation, in consultation with the Environmental Consultant that visits the estates on a quarterly basis. The managers within each of the divisions on the estates are then responsible for implementing these initiatives.

Village environmental committees are established within the villages in the estates to help drive the programs and to offer feedback to management on what is required to improve the initiatives. In terms of the surrounding community, we have a dedicated General Manager Client Operations, who has a team focused on the Outgrowers and neighbouring communities. They have appointed extension officers to assist the Outgrowers with environmental and sustainability issues as well as ensuring that the surrounding community and stakeholders have a feedback mechanism into the management of EPK. Farmers Educational days are also arranged to facilitate the dissemination of information. Audit sheets have been developed by the Environmental Consultant, to monitor progress of the initiatives both on the estates and the outgrowers, to ensure continuous improvement of the program.

The hands on approach of senior management, as well as all employees accompanied by the Outgrowers from the surrounding community, ensures that there is adequate participation from all stakeholders affected by the environment.

2017 Interim Report