Mission

We are a science-based institute, headquartered in Windhoek Namibia, set up to help the people of Sub-Saharan Africa restore arid, desertified farmland to healthy land for its more productive use; and in the process sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Our aims are therefore twofold: to drive an uplift in the quality of land usage and the prosperity of the people who live on it and, in the process, to assist in the mitigation of global warming.

Approach

Our focus is on both large-scale cattle farms and also smallholder plots inhabited by subsistence farmers.

We will disseminate our learnings to the former through a Perivoli Farmers Association, starting initially in Namibia; and to the latter through the network of nursery school teachers (currently 9,124) that we can access through the Perivoli Schools Trust which runs a nursery school teacher training programme.

Opportunity

We see an opportunity to use the regeneration of land, the harvesting and “carbon sinking” of encroacher bush in the form of biochar, the “growing” of Soil Organic Carbon and the restoration of Biodiversity, as a medium for financial exchange between wealthy, carbon emitting countries and the countries of Africa, which have been minimal emitters and yet invariably seriously impacted by the implications of global warming.

It is possible to envisage substantial flows of money travelling from North to South as polluting countries struggle to offset their emissions, as they transition to lower emitting activities over the coming decades.

The arrival of substantial sums of money into the hands of landowners and stewards in the countries of Africa creates an opportunity for them to invest in more productive farm practices, thereby creating income generating opportunities, and improving standards of health and education, whilst addressing global concerns around food security and the risks of climate migration.

There is a virtuous circle in all of this.

It is possible to envisage substantial flows of money travelling from North to South as polluting countries struggle to offset their emissions, as they transition to lower emitting activities over the coming decades.

The arrival of substantial sums of money into the hands of landowners and stewards in the countries of Africa creates an opportunity for them to invest in more productive farm practices, thereby creating income generating opportunities, and improving standards of health and education, whilst addressing global concerns around food security and the risks of climate migration.

There is a virtuous circle in all of this.

We are in favour of carbon offsets in principle. As the price of carbon rises (from a low base currently in Africa) emitting businesses will be forced to innovate towards more climate friendly practices.

We are in favour of carbon offsets in principle. As the price of carbon rises (from a low base currently in Africa) emitting businesses will be forced to innovate towards more climate friendly practices.

The Problem

Much of the land in Sub-Saharan Africa has been damaged over long periods by over-grazing by cattle.

As old maps of Africa show, the land had for millennia been open savannah land, where large herds of antelope and other animals roamed, pausing under the watchful eye of predators to graze on only the tops of grasses before moving on to new pastures.

The fencing-off of land and the provision of water for cattle over many decades has led to the degradation of perennial grasses and, in their stead, the spread of largely impenetrable “encroacher” bushes. As a result, an estimated 45 million hectares in Namibia alone have turned into arid bush-encroached land with limited productive use, depleted Soil Organic Carbon and impaired biodiversity.

Equally, the use of fossil-fuel fertilisers by smallholder subsistence farmers and the continuous tilling of plots has led to a cycle of soil depletion. As a result, faced with declining productivity, smallholders have tended to seek permission from the local Chiefs that control land rights to access neighbouring plots and engage in slash-and-burn clearances resulting in deforestation.

A dependence on wood for charcoal used for cooking has resulted in further deforestation.

Our Solution

Our aim is to encourage the adoption of more natural farming and land management strategies, addressed at both large, several thousand hectare, farms as well as smallholder plots.

The larger farms are easier to address as they are usually owned freehold by a single farmer whereas the smallholder plots are often on communal land which adds complexity.

Large Farms

Addressing Encroacher Bush

Our approach for the larger farms is to encourage the harvesting of encroacher bush through selective thinning; its conversion into carbon-rich biochar through burning in the absence of oxygen (a process known as pyrolysis) in specialist kilns; the quenching of the char with water; and the return of the biochar to the surface of the land.

It is well understood, from ancient times, that the spreading of biochar nourishes the organisms that inhabit soil, thereby improving groundwater retention. As a result, this also aids the return of perennial grasses and, therefore, the more productive rearing of cattle. In time this will also aid other uses of the land and the accumulation of Soil Organic Carbon.

The quench water drained from the kilns can be used as a fertiliser and organic pest control in cultivated vegetable gardens.

We are undertaking pilot projects on a number of farms, by way of proof of concept.

Smallholder Plots

A Natural Farming Project

We plan to show smallholder farmers how to adopt natural farming practices to increase yields and food security, as well as have a secondary benefit of sequestering more greenhouse gases.

We are working on a “playbook” for smallholders which we plan to roll out during 2024.

Science

Our Institute seeks to attract grant funding from global institutions focussed on land regeneration, livelihood uplift and carbon sequestration.

So far, we have undertaken a study on the impact of bush clearing in soil organic carbon on 36 farms in Namibia, paid for by the GIZ.

Training

Ours is a training model.

We plan to establish a Perivoli Farmers Association in Namibia through which to disseminate our findings to stewards of large cattle farms.

In the case of smallholder farmers, we will repurpose the Perivoli School Teacher Trainers to provide instruction to landowners under supervision by our team at The Perivoli Rangeland Institute.

We are working on a model to see them turn into “citizen scientists” under the direction of our Perivoli Trainers.

Training

Ours is a training model.

We plan to establish a Perivoli Farmers Association in Namibia through which to disseminate our findings to stewards of large cattle farms.

In the case of smallholder farmers, we will repurpose the Perivoli School Teacher Trainers to provide instruction to landowners under supervision by our team at The Perivoli Rangeland Institute.

We are working on a model to see them turn into “citizen scientists” under the direction of our Perivoli Trainers.

Prosperity Uplift

Beyond helping to mitigate the challenges of global warming through additional greenhouse gas sequestration, we hope to see a significant uplift in the wellbeing of local people from an improvement in agricultural yields.

In order to measure the change in prosperity we plan to develop a context-specific, bottom-up, approach to measuring prosperity, led by members of local communities.

Citizen Scientists

We envisage, in due course, turning to the network of Perivoli-trained nursery school teachers to assist us to do so.

We are working on a model to turn them into “citizen scientists” under direction from our cohort of Perivoli Trainers, charged with explaining the case for changing to more agriecological farming practices as well as helping to track changes in terms of practices, agricultural yeilds and overall prosperity, as measured by the metrics that matter to them.

It is our understanding that the linkage of the creation of Soil Organic Carbon to a concurrent uplift in livelihoods will justify a higher price for the carbon in offset-markets, creating a virtuous circle of positives.

Governance

The Perivoli Rangeland Institute is controlled by the Perivoli Climate Trust which is a Namibian registered trust.

The Trustees of the Perivoli Climate Trust are James Alexandroff OBE, Tom Newton, Tom Goddard and Soraj Bissoonauth.

Management

The Perivoli Rangeland Institute is managed day to day by Evert Strydom and a team of assistants. A number of consultants specialist in bush clearing and rangeland restoration are called upon as required.

Funding

The Perivoli Rangeland Institute is funded by the Perivoli Climate Trust which is, in turn, funded by the Perivoli Foundation

The Perivoli Foundation has relied for funding hitherto on the Perivoli Trust. Going forward it is anticipated that Perivoli Innovations will start to fund the Foundation’s activities. Grant funding will also be sought.