By Timothy Kitundy, featured in The Business Express
Dar es Salaam, October 8th 2009
The Kilombero Valley Teak Company (KVTC), which invested over US$ 48 million in the miombo woodlands of Kilombero, now boasts the provision of employment to around 700 people on its plantations and has greatly improved the environment of the area that they operate.
Speaking in Dar es Salaam recently Hans Lemm, KVTC Forest Product Manager said that apart from the said achievements, the firm has also been awarded international standards certification of which the company’s environmental management met the international criteria.
“KVTC provides employment opportunities to around 700 people on its plantations, there is a direct employment of approximately 120 people who work and manage the plantations and 110 people that are employed at the wood processing facilities,” he said.
According to Lemm, KVTC, which is now the largest employer in its immediate region generates the bulk of the employment through opportunities through a programme to encourage and empower contractors and teams of people from neighbouring communities to do all agricultural work in plantations.
He said in 2004, KVTC was awarded ISO14001 certification in confirmation that the company’s environment management standards meet international criteria, and has maintained its ISO14001 certification since then, with annual audits successfully passed.
“Also in 2009 SGS certified the firm under the TLTV scheme which guarantees buyers of its products to that these products were legally sourced and are derived from well-managed forests,” he added.
In terms of Corporate Social Responsibility, Kennedy Haule, an official from KVTC said that over the years the company has contributed to its local communities through provision of funds to the Social Fund jointly managed by communities and the company.
According to Haule, over the past five years, KVTC has contributed approximately US$ 150,000 to a variety of projects, which have been backed by the Social Fund scheme include schools, dispensaries, teacher accommodation and village halls.
“Incentives to prevent wildfires and poaching are also part of this formally structured village contract. Annually this generates about US$ 25,000 income to KVTC neighbouring villages,” Haules said.
Haule further revealed that the company has fully been involved in and actively participates in HIV / AIDS awareness programmes and has additionally dispensed forestry expertise development by the firm to the local communities and the distribution of seedlings.