Production of organic food in Kenya is still on a relatively small scale but it's increasing fast. Over 182,000 hectares of land are under organic management, which accounts for 0.69% of the total agricultural area in Kenya. Globally organic markets are growing. Consumers are more and more interested in healthy and sustainably produced food and expenditure on organic food is rising faster than on non-organic food.
These trends are common in the export market, and also for the local market. There is an increase in local organic farmer markets as well as designated organic sections within supermarkets. Many consider organic agriculture an interesting option for smallholder farmers in Africa because it offers a unique combination of low inputs, environmental conservation and it provides access to premium price markets.
The rising demand for healthy food
The growing demand for organic produce in the EU has led to a rising number of Dutch entrepreneurs starting a business in organic agriculture in Kenya. We spoke with three businesses involved in organic farming to get more insight in the trends, benefits, opportunities and challenges related to organic farming in Kenya.
Live Love Well, established in 2017, distributes superfood products worldwide. Mlango Farm, an organic farm in Limuru started in 2007, sells their horticulture produce locally. Finally, Bert-Jan Ottens, who has worked on and off in Kenya since the 1990s, started first ProFound and later Green Rhino, a compliance company that assists in creating new business models to develop safe foods and organic farming in Kenya, with its partner platform www.healthygreenchoice.com.
The local demand for safe and healthy foods is rising
Mr. Bert-Jan Ottens realized that real progress in optimizing the growth potential of organic agriculture in Kenya was still missing. He identified several challenges that local markets are facing, concerning safe and traceable food and decided to take action. From the moment Green Rhino was established many stakeholders expressed a serious interest in joining him in his effort to professionalize organic agriculture in Kenya.
Green Rhino is expanding its impact by collaborating with organizations like SNV on tomatoes, mango and leafy vegetables. They also signed a Letter of Intent with Kirinyaga County, which wants to develop a blueprint for becoming an organic county. Moreover, sourcing managers of supermarkets and restaurant chains are increasingly requesting Green Rhino to help them with the development of compliance trajectories.
Mr. Bert-Jan Ottens emphasizes the interest by customers in Kenya in organic food: “Besides surveys at produce and retail level, our consumer survey clearly shows that consumers are willing to pay higher prices if they can be sure that the food is safe and the higher price will benefit the farmers. There is a for instance particular interest in Kenyan leafy vegetables.”
Mrs. Els Breet of Mlango Farm notices that individual consumers in Kenya have a stronger desire to know where their food comes from. One way of achieving this is by increasing traceability of produce. At Mlango farm they invite people to come to the farm. “This allows consumers to see the products in the fields of our farm. Next to that we also see a growing trend for groups to come here as an outing and to experience farm life.”
Mlango farm owner gives a tour of the farm explaining more about horticultural produce
A proud farmer with his Moringa harvest
Mrs. Talitha Hogebrug, Co-founder of Live Love Well, sees an increasing global demand for superfoods, such as Moringa and Baobab products. Moringa, a natural source of nutrition, grows very well in Kenya. Live Love Well grows its Moringa on the ‘Green Moringa Gold Coast’, which offers optimum growth conditions on coconut and macadamia farms. Besides building a profitable business through efficient supply chains the company also wanted to produce with a positive impact on the environment and to increase employment in areas where currently little production is happening.
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