Speaker Christoph Schaaf @ Greentech.LIVE Conference FALL 23: Climate Nuts are "nuts" for social justice and the environment
Speaker Christoph Schaaf @ Greentech.LIVE Conference FALL 23: Climate Nuts are “nuts” for social justice and the environment

Species extinction among animals and plants, too much CO2 in the atmosphere and poverty in Africa – Climate Nuts wants to actively combat all of these problems. Their solution: food forests in Africa.

Social business against poverty and the climate crisis

It’s been five years since Christoph Schaaf quit his job in IT and travelled to China by bike. He then travelled back via Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine in an old Lada, but one sight changed Schaaf’s life forever.

This sight was the former Aral Sea, which is now 90 per cent dry. For this reason, he delved deeper into the topic of the climate crisis in 2019 and eventually founded Climate Nuts in 2021. A start-up that he sees as a social business.

“I am convinced that if we conceptualise our social commitment as a business, we have the opportunity to do something good,” he explains.

Greentech LIVE Conference: Climate Nuts plants food forests in Sierra Leone

Climate Nuts wants to do good with food forests in Sierra Leone, a country in Africa. There is a large gap between rich and poor there and the SDG index is not the best at 146 out of 163. Schaaf therefore also wanted to address this issue.

This is reflected in the Climate Nuts team. In addition to the group from Germany, they work closely with a team of people from the 10 partner villages in northern Sierra Leone.

“The people know how to farm in this region, how to plant the trees and who to talk to locally,” emphasises Schaaf.

They also have a team led by a biologist from Cameroon at their side to provide the necessary expertise. She specialises in forest ecology and helps to decide what is best planted where.

Greentech.LIVE Conference 2023 Christoph Schaaf ClimateNuts
Greentech.LIVE Conference 2023 Christoph Schaaf ClimateNuts

Investment in seeds, tools and infrastructure for food forests

“We have an intensively farmed area that is very close to a natural forest system,” says Schaaf.

The forest was established by small farmers. Climate Nuts invests in seeds, tools and infrastructure to provide local support. Beans are particularly popular seeds, as they bring a large harvest and good money on the market and can be planted twice in one rainy season.

“This year we expect to harvest 500 bags of beans, which will enable us to lift three villages directly out of poverty.”

Greentech conference: Climate Nuts promotes biodiversity and CO2 compensation

But beans are not the only thing that is planted.

“We plant forests with 10 different tree species: cashew nuts, mangoes, moringa, citrus fruits – a huge variety. We are bringing the forest back to where it used to be and are also protecting the climate.”

After all, forests store CO2 and are good for biodiversity.

If everything goes as planned, their project will bear fruit. In the village of Pintikilie, for example, the goals are ambitious: “For the coming year, we plan to grow 21 tonnes of beans, 44 hectares of food forest and thus store 2,600 tonnes of CO2. This will theoretically offset 260 people in Germany, assuming emissions of 10 tonnes per year.”

Holistic approach for a sustainable future

According to Schaaf, the most important thing about the whole project is to take a holistic approach.

“You have to get the local people on board so that they benefit and participate. By planting food forests, we are not only investing in CO2 compensation, but also in a local economic food future. We are also investing in the future of African villages,” he explains.

It must be more economically attractive to keep the trees alive than to cut them down.

For this reason, production takes place in Africa for Africa. Although the nuts can also be purchased in Germany via an online shop, exports are not the main business.

Incidentally, anyone who wants to support the whole thing can take out a forest sponsorship for 149 euros – both as a company and as an individual. That would make an unusual Christmas present.