Different approaches to doing business in Kenya
On 18 January 2021, the Netherlands Ambassador Maarten Brouwer visited Kenyan and Dutch companies based in Kiambu County. This visit is part of a series of field days providing insight into Kenya. Ambassador Brouwer spoke with representatives from horticulture, animal feed and insect companies to listen to their perspective on working in Kenya. After the visit the Ambassador said: ‘it was an inspiring field day providing insight into different approaches of Kenyan and Dutch companies on doing business in Kenya.’
Flora Delight and Terrasol both showed the Ambassador their greenhouses where summer flowers and cuttings are produced. Both owners have been present in Kenya for over 20 years, but have different approaches. Flora Delight is highly specialized, enabling them to export to new markets, such as countries with very high phytosanitary standards like Australia. Whereas Terrasol has a more diversified strategy, which has resulted in the export of 300 million cuttings a year to countries all over the world. Both work together with the local private sector, which creates employment and a positive social impact.
Another business strategy is to set up a new value chain entirely. This is what the partnership ‘FeedTechKenya’ is doing. In the afternoon they presented how they work together to fulfill the high demand for quality feed which is caused by a growing livestock sector. A number of challenges are present in the feed value chain such as a shortage of raw materials, non-optimal logistics and a lack of skilled workers. Mr. Harrison Juma, Head Product Development of Unga Farm Care Ltd said
‘The challenges in this value chain were too big to be tackled by us alone. This resulted in a partnership of Dutch and Kenyan organizations whose combined expertise and technology made it possible to set up an entire new value chain.’
Another partnership linked to the previous is the FDOV ‘FoodTechAfrica’ which is focused specifically on the aquaculture value chain. Part of their success is sharing knowledge with each other and within Kenya. A good example of this is the aquaculture academy (AA) which will be opened this year. The AA is aimed at training young Kenyan farmers on best practices for fish farming. Having this knowledge is essential to reducing food losses.
One of the challenges in the feed sector is the availability of affordable protein. Insectipro is also part of the impact cluster FeedTechKenya and has set their mind to solving this challenge by producing protein with the help of the Black Soldier Fly (BSF). The BSF feeds on organic waste, which is collected from local groceries, bakeries and even a local beer brewer. Extracting protein from insects requires thinking out of the box and innovating constantly. Insectipro works together with various knowledge institutes, like ICIPE, which is how they are able to keep developing new knowledge within this upcoming market. Apart from protein, the manure can be used as fertilizer and the exoskeleton can be used for producing chitin resulting in a highly circular and sustainable process. This innovative concept has even resulted in a visit from President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Sustainable agriculture in Kenya is a challenge, which requires a new way of thinking and cooperation. As seen from the examples above different business strategies, cooperation, knowledge sharing, innovation and sustainability are essential for moving forward. Private sector development is important and is innovating quickly. A challenge is to see if the public sector will be able to keep up. Ambassador Brouwer concluded ‘Nobody can do it alone and Kenya together with the Netherlands are working on getting the public and private sectors closer together to facilitate an enabling environment.’ If we succeed together, Kenya’s future could be very exciting.
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