The Netherlands and Nakuru County strong partners

Around 60% Kenya’s horticulture production comes from Nakuru County, making the county an important stakeholder in Kenya’s agriculture. The Netherlands and Nakuru County are strong long-term partners in the field of agriculture and water management. We work together on climate smart and sustainable solutions for local challenges, making us strong partners for the sustainable development goals. To this effect, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Kenya Maarten Brouwer, the Agricultural Counselor Mrs. Ingrid Korving and the agricultural & water team of the Netherlands embassy visited Nakuru County from 21 -24 March 2021 to discuss developments, ongoing activities and future cooperation.

Group photo Nakuru County
From left to right: CEC Water, Environment, Energy and Natural Resources - Eng. Festus K. Ng’eno; the CEC Agriculture - Dr. Immaculate Maina; the and the CEC Trade, Tourism and Cooperatives - Raymond Komen; Governor Lee Kinyanjui; Ambassador – Mr. Maarten Brouwer and his spouse; Agricultural Counselor – Mrs. Ingrid Korving.

Areas of cooperation

The Netherlands has a long-standing history working and investing in Nakuru County. It all started in the 1980s, with Dutch farmers investing in Naivasha in the horticulture sector. Soon after that, other investors followed in Nakuru County with investments in dairy, potatoes and agricultural technology. In the recent past 90% of the Netherlands Development Cooperation initiatives focusing on water, food safety, food loss and inclusive market access have been implemented in Nakuru County. In light of this strong partnership, the Ambassador and the agricultural team had a fruitful meeting on Monday, April 22 with Governor Lee Kinyanjui, the CEC Agriculture – Dr. Immaculate Maina, the CEC Water, Environment, Energy and Natural Resources - Eng. Festus K. Ng’eno and the CEC Trade, Tourism and Cooperatives - Raymond Komen.

Happy Cow Cheese Ambassador
Delicious cheese produced at Happy Cow Ltd in Nakuru

Sharing knowledge and innovation

Nakuru County aims to improve agricultural productivity through value addition and adoption of modern technologies. The Dutch Agribusinesses in Kenya share their knowledge and work on affordable innovations that fit the local context.

During a visit to Happy Cow Limited (HCL) in Nakuru, a family owned business founded in 1994, we discussed their Quality Based Management System, which operates mainly in the small-scale dairy value chain. It benefits HCL and its dairy farmers by a bonus payment for good quality of raw milk and reduced milk rejections. It also reduces food safety hazards in milk like antibiotic and aflatoxin residues, adulteration of water, preservatives, etc. Since 2004, Happy Cow has grown to become a fully-fledged dairy manufacturer supplying nationwide, establishing itself as a key player within the local dairy market.

Florensis and Bilashaka
Left:. Led lightning to optimize growth conditions at Florensis; Right: Solar panels at Bilashaka farm

Floriculture is an important sector in Kenya, contributing to 1% of Kenya’s GDP. We visited two farms implementing sustainability practices in their daily operations. Both Bilashaka roses and Florensis demonstrate that smart solutions are the next step in farming. Bilashaka roses for example saves 32% of their energy costs by making use of solar energy. Florensis together with Philips has reduced the energy usage of their greenhouses with 93% by installing 11-Watt GreenPower LED flowering lamps and replace the 150-Watt incandescent bulbs.

Besides these visits, the delegation also met with the Dutch business community to get the latest insight in development in the various sectors and see how Dutch companies are innovating to increase sustainability within their companies. We also had a meeting with the program Amplifying Voices for Just Climate Action, this program works towards an expanded civic space, where civil society voices in particular those of indigenous and marginalized groups are heard on climate action. During the meeting the team gained insight into the planned activities to achieve this.

Launch Potato Services Africa
Launch of the Potato Service Africa website, a one-stop shop for Kenyan farmers

Launch Potato Services Africa

Dr. Immaculate Maina and Ambassador Maarten Brouwer also launched the innovative Agrico Potato Service Africa website. This one stop shop for Kenyan smallholder farmers working in the potato value chain will enable farmers to boost their business, connect to relevant networks and follow online tutorials, of course all free of charge (read more here).

Governor Lee Kinyanjui said while Kenya’s potato seed demand 30,000 tons annually, the country only produces 6,700 tons, with most farmers recycling crop from the previous season to use as seed, a move he blamed for the shortage that the country faces.

Mr Kinyanjui stated that scarcity of certified potato seeds in Kenya has stagnated production of the crop at seven tons per hectare against a potential of 40 tons.

“The County administration will collaborate with Netherlands in promoting new farming technologies for breeding multiple disease free and high yielding seed as a way of unlocking the over Sh15 billion potential of potato farming in the devolved unit,” added Governor Lee Kinyanjui (read more here).

Cooperation on water

Nakuru County and the Netherlands have long-term engagement on the nexus water – agriculture and on water Sanitation and hygiene (WASH). The focus has been strongly on integrated approaches on sustainable management of landscapes and catchments for climate resilient business (e.g. Flower Farming Naivasha,Tourism), WASH services and eco systems.

The visit to Nakuru County started on World Water Day, 22 March 2021. The focus of this year’s World Water Day was “valuing water”, how we value water determines how water is managed and shared. The value of water is about much more than its price – water has enormous and complex value for households, health, agriculture, economics and the integrity of our natural environment. -  If we overlook one of these values, we risk mismanaging this resource. During the visit attention was given to the work done by Dutch companies in the water sector in Nakuru County (read more here).

Meeting Egerton University Drones
Discussion on opportunities for youth created by new technologies in the agriculture sector

Youth involvement

During the four-day visit to Nakuru County the delegation witnessed many examples of knowledge transfer and saw how Dutch agribusinesses engage the youth. The engagement of youth is vital to building inclusive and sustainable societies. In Kenya, youth make up the largest part of the population. This presents clear opportunities for the future. The role of education in agriculture sector is important in involving the next generation. One example of a program focusing on this, is the Tailor Made Training (TMT) on “Using flying sensors and crop growth models to increase food production in Kenya’’, which helps build the technical skills lacking so much in advancing smart agriculture. This training designed by Egerton University and FutureWater B.V. aims to increase youth engagement in agriculture, while contributing to sustainable agriculture (read more here). Opening up opportunities in the agriculture value chain for youths to plug in and contribute actively to ensure a vibrant value chain is a necessity. The Netherlands is grateful for the partnership with Nakuru County and we look forward to working together on the unlimited opportunities the county has to offer.

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