In the spring of 2021, Minna Impiö, Co-founder of Mifuko and Chairperson of the Mifuko Trust, and Anita Lintula, Mifuko Trust’s Project Manager in Finland, stumbled upon an article in the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper. The article highlighted the pioneering work of Finnish company SoilWatch, specialising in remote-sensing technology and nature-based solutions. SoilWatch empowers ecosystem restoration and food system transformation with transparent and science-based evidence throughout the project cycle.
Intrigued by their mission, Minna and Anita wasted no time and reached out to SoilWatch, embarking on an exciting journey together. SoilWatch quickly became an integral part of the project planning for "WASH and Grow! II," an initiative aimed at addressing the challenge of soil erosion while fostering climate resilience through agroforestry practices and ecological sanitation.
First steps: Tree planting pilot and remote-sensing tool training
One of the pivotal connections made through SoilWatch was with Globe Hope, a Finnish company at the forefront of circular economy practices in the fashion industry. Globe Hope generously made two donations, enabling Mifuko Trust to launch a tree planting project in collaboration with three women's self-help groups in Makueni, Kenya, a cause also supported by Mifuko Ltd. A total of 1650 trees were planted during the months of November and December in 2022, with a minimum of 15 trees per household. These trees served various purposes, from supporting crop growth to enhancing local gardens, with a mix of fruit trees, shade trees, and fast-growing local building trees.
To effectively plan, monitor, and evaluate the impact of agroforestry activities under the "WASH and Grow! II" initiative, SoilWatch introduced its remote-sensing technology to the Mifuko Trust team. The pilot area, affectionately referred to as the "Globe Hope Pilot," marked the first site for close monitoring using SoilWatch's remote sensing tool. Project staff in Kenya, Peter Manyolo and Jacinta Peter, conducted fieldwork, using a mobile app to collect precise GIS coordinates for the area.
Mifuko Ltd supports the effort
In this endeavor, Mifuko Ltd.'s support proved invaluable. The company's co-founder and Chairperson of Mifuko Trust, Minna Impiö, played an active role throughout the process. Mifuko Ltd. provided financial support to facilitate SoilWatch consultations for staff training in the application's use, the definition of key monitoring indicators, and the provision of a handbook on application usage. This support aligns seamlessly with Mifuko Ltd.'s commitment to reducing and offsetting its carbon footprint, thereby integrating it as an essential component of the WASH and Grow! project. In 2023, one of Mifuko’s sustainability objectives is to strengthen collaboration with Mifuko Trust by actively involving Mifuko employees in volunteer opportunities during working hours, supporting the Trust’s initiatives and programs. Minna Impiö's involvement in the SoilWatch collaboration exemplifies this commitment. For further insights on these topics, please refer to Mifuko Ltd.'s sustainability report.
With the successful training of 41 agroforestry ambassadors in collaboration with experts from the World Agroforestry organization, and the establishment of tree nurseries, Mifuko Trust is now set to delineate four large plot areas, alongside two smaller ones. These areas will be closely monitored to gauge the impact of tree planting efforts, including tree cover percentage, above-ground biomass, and the frequency of bare soil. As agroforestry is chosen over direct tree planting, the tangible effects are expected to become evident in approximately five years. Additionally, SoilWatch's application will continue to aid in the planning and execution of tree planting activities.