“If you put me in an office, it will be the end of me!” is the first thing George Thumbi tells us on a tour of his life.
George, a father of three from Central Kenya, was brought up in a family of 10 children on a farm that grew coffee, maize, fruit and other plants. It was here that he developed an interest in agriculture which led him to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and Agroforesty at Egerton University, Kenya, among other qualifications such as a Diploma in Sales and Marketing and Business Management.
George, who is now in charge of the agribusiness and forestry program at Wildlife Works Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project in Kenya where he started working in 2014, has come a long way before earning this title. Since 1993, he has worked in flower and vegetable farms across Africa, including Ethiopia, South Africa, and Tanzania.
When he first heard about Wildlife Works, George was highly motivated to join a company that has the best interest of the ecosystem and environmental conservation at heart. In previous jobs, he held the record for using the least chemicals when practicing ‘integrated pest management’ – a method of growing organically until it is necessary to intervene to save a crop.
The greenhouse is George’s domain: a special surrounding where tree seedlings, vegetables, and flowers are grown, enclosed with a black net to keep out big insects and surrounded by chili plants to deter wild animals such as elephants and buffalos. At the greenhouse, they are also spraying the crops with natural bug repellant plants such as marigold, chili and ginger to keep insects at bay.
Marigold planted in between amaranth green veggies
George has initiated many innovative projects during his time at Wildlife Works, including multi-story to utilize space and save water, a rabbit project to use urine as an organic fertilizer, teaching local school groups and programs in the local communities of Mackinnon Road and Bungule where he has been mentoring people to build their own greenhouse and grow using multi-story farming.
George teaching students from a local secondary school to help ignite a love of nature
”My greatest achievement is that I have been able to empower the community to conserve our environment through offering them free training on agricultural techniques, as an alternative to poaching and charcoal production,” he says. George has magnificent future plans and he would like to introduce widespread raising of rabbits, poultry egg production, beekeeping and to increase the presence and teaching in the community – all projects aimed at casting a wider net of influence and equipping more local people with sustainable livelihoods.
George setting up drip irrigation with his colleagues.
George is proud of the work he has done at Wildlife Works. “My favorite part of my job is planting tree seedlings and seeing them grow, it is very satisfying,” he adds.