SMEs digest: How Zanzibar firm promotes permaculture | Land Portal

Dar es Salaam. ‘Permaculture’ is an approach to land management and philosophy that adopts arrangements observed in flourishing natural ecosystems.

As it happens, the Zanzibar-based firm is working around the clock to promote permaculture in Tanzania.

Permacul Design Company Ltd is developing permaculture in Tanzania as part of its role in the implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

Permaculture originates from ‘permanent agriculture,’ which was later changed to ‘permanent culture’ with the aspect of incorporating social aspects.

It consists of various branches including ecological design, ecological engineering, regenerative design, environmental design, and construction.

It also includes integrated water resources management that develops sustainable architecture, and regenerative and self-maintained habitat and agricultural systems modelled from natural ecosystems.

Permaculture has been implemented and gained widespread visibility throughout the world as an agricultural and architectural design system which is guided by the indigenous knowledge and traditions.

SME Digest got hold of Bernadette Kirsch, the chief operations officer and managing director of the Zanzibar-based Permacul Design Company Ltd who said the firm’s role is to advocate, design and implement human settlements based on sustainable systems that function in harmony with nature.

“We awaken the insights into the necessity, feasibility and profitability of implementation of Permaculture principles into projects among urban developers, investors and private individuals. In essence, we implement the UN’s SGDs using Permaculture Design principles,” she said.

Permacul has been running from 2014. Their work started with designing green spaces at the new satellite town in Zanzibar, Fumba Town in Nyamanzi. They point out that they saw a need of addressing the climate change by adapting many features in town as in soil building through composting, rainwater harvesting and food forests. Many hotels and individuals saw what they were doing - and followed suit.

Although their dire present environmental predicament is all over the show, they have noted that the citizens still don’t take an active role in mitigating the situation.

Education is paramount which is sadly lacking. And, although Permacul has the tools they need, it is not enough because they need concerted action.

The company has done so well in Zanzibar where they have worked with clients such as; Kizikula Boutique Hotel, Aqua Resort, Fumba Town, Jambiani Villas, Spice Island Resort, The Soul and the residence to name a few and they now want to be active in the mainland and eventually expand to Africa in the long term. Currently, they do have projects in the pipeline for Dar es Salaam and Dakar, Senegal.

Bernadette continues to say that the primary goal of adopting permaculture principles is to empower individuals to be their own producers and move away from being dependent consumers.

They have trained their landscaping staff from an out of school youth programme ‘Fursa Kijani’ three years ago.

Many of their trainees have now assumed managerial positions. And they now continue to train more locals.

She adds on to say, permaculture is every bit as relevant to designing a vibrant, productive and truly sustainable and regenerative cities.

From a philosophy of cooperation with nature and each other, of caring for the earth and people, it presents an approach to designing environments which have the diversity, stability and resilience of natural ecosystems, to regenerate damaged land and preserve environments which are still intact.

She dots on how broad permaculture is by saying “Permaculture is a practical concept applicable from a balcony to the farm, from the city to the wilderness, enabling us to establish productive environments providing our food, energy, shelter, material and non-material needs, as well as the social and economic infrastructures that will support them”.

At Permacul, they practice sustainability as a way of life. They are environment-conscious, and they have prioritised conservativeness and efficiency with all resources. Adding that being sustainable is not only a part of their everyday business practices, but it is prevalent in their landscapes as well.

A few examples of how their landscapes are sustainable are: They design landscapes to be healthy and productive for the long term.

This means proper design by using the right plant at the right place and choosing plants that are not susceptible to pests and diseases.

They also do not use synthetic chemicals instead they use Indigenous and endemic plants are also used; these climate friendly plants are also the most sustainable require the least number of resources - like water - as they become established.

They also utilize rainwater absorption and catchment -through proper soil building and implementation of swales, rain gardens, pervious surfaces, our designs, they use edibles, recycled or local materials compost to construction materials and they source materials and manpower locally to save and minimize carbon footprint.

Permaculture in Africa and Tanzania is still at the infancy stage. Therefore, Bernadette and company work together with different stakeholders to spread the word on Tanzania Mainland.

Bernadette points out that Tania Hamilton of ‘Nipe Fagio,’ and the owners of ‘Nabaki Africa,’ supporting Permacul by helping to spread permaculture on the Mainland - and, specifically, in Dar es Salaam where they have given numerous composting courses to stakeholders.

Through sheer hard work, Permacul operators have made a name for themselves. Recently, they were contacted by one of the biggest real estate developers to implement Permaculture in Dakar, Senegal. This new project in Senegal will definitely put permaculture firmly on the map.

The organisation continues to empower youth in Zanzibar to join the sector, and where they had to train several young Zanzibaris. The trainees attended a 2-week Practical Permaculture Design Course and a 4-month apprenticeship in Fumba Town.

As she concludes, Bernadette says permaculture combines three key aspects: First, an ethical framework: earth care, people care, fair shares. Second: understanding of how nature works; and, third: a design approach.


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