KENYA – Greenforest Foods, Kenyan producers of refined honey, food-grade beeswax, and processed groundnuts has partnered with the European Union and Slovak Aid through its AgriFI Kenya Challenge Fund to boost production of ground nuts in the country.
The project is set to be undertaken under a two-year program, which seeks to recruit additional 500 farmers by end of the first quarter on next year.
The firm has so far partnered with 1,500 smallholder farmers in Baringo and Elgeyo Marakwet counties who supply the processor with nuts for processing.
Greenforest Foods Chief Executive Officer Athanas Matheka who also double up as the director of the project says groundnuts have the potential of providing farmers in the two counties with considerably higher margins and profitable incomes.
They are said to be resilient in harsh weather as it takes 3-4 months to harvest and this gives smallholder farmers a faster return on their investment.
With support from the EU, the firm will provide extension services to farmers in collaboration with county governments of Elgeyo Marakwet and Baringo to access to clean seeds and aflatoxin management at the farm level.
“The project is focused on minimize and possibly eliminate the use of chemicals and pesticides which are harmful and costly to the farmers.
“We encourage farmers to use easily available natural manure, which together with improved seeds and good crop husbandry will ensure high yields with minimal impact on the environment,” said Matheka.
Experts says peanut farming has potential to generate two to three times better margins than other crops like maize.
However peanut farmers still face challenges such as lack of knowledge on climate-smart agricultural practices, lack of market access and proper agronomy information, as well as limited access to quality seeds and extension services, factors which have constrained production which AgriFI Kenya intends to eliminate.
“Practically all groundnuts produced in Kenya are grown by smallholder farmers who face multiple challenges that include increased climate vulnerability, limited access to quality seeds and other inputs, lack of know-how of climate-smart and good agricultural practices, and a lack of market access and information,” notes the fund.
The project aims at addressing such vulnerabilities so as to create stable safe food security among the affected smallholder farmers.
The long-term objective of this project is for Greenforest to access high-quality aflatoxin-free peanuts locally.
Currently, the company buys all its peanuts from Malawi to beef up its supply needs.