KENYA – Unilever East Africa, Agventure Ltd. and SNV Netherlands Development Organisation have signed a Memorandum of Agreement formalising a venture that aims to double canola oil production in Kenya by the end of 2017 via contract farming arrangements.

The agreement involves technical assistance to local farmers and a financial investment of KES 23 Million split among the three partners.

Canola, also known as rapeseed, is growing in popularity in Kenya. As a rotation crop it has numerous benefits for the soil and the farmers.

It is a break with the past from traditional to conservation farming and as such, significantly reduces erosion, improves water retention and leads to fewer weeds, pests and diseases.

The farmers’ risks are more diversified compared to planting mono-crops and it increases their climate resilience.

An approach that will result in higher yields and returns as well as reduced labor, fertilizer and pesticide costs.

Speaking during the MoA signing, Unilever East Africa MD Justin Apsey lauded the partnership sighting that it went hand in hand with Unilever’s Sustainability commitment towards reducing environmental impact and improving local farmer livelihoods.

“Sustainable farming methods have the potential to increase yields considerably, mitigate the effects of climate change and provide economic and social benefits to farmers, their families, and the surrounding communities.

Participating local farmers will benefit from and contribute to economic development and sustainable farming practices in Kenya.”

Unilever purchases around 2% of the world’s supply of sunflower and canola oils, touted as one of the healthiest edible oils and the 7,000 MT peak demand in Kenya is a perfect trigger to establish a sustainable local sourcing model.

On its part SNV, through a program dubbed HortIMPACT, combines the expertise of the private sector with market based solutions to build sustainable and competitive agriculture markets in Kenya.

As part of the agreement, SNV will work with Agventure, a local cooperative of large enterprise farmers that started growing canola and producing canola oil since 2010.

Together they will scale up the number of local farmers and train them on approaches of conservation agriculture to make them more productive, profitable and resilient to climate change.

Ambassador Frans Makken of the Kingdom of the Netherlands was present during the signing.

The Dutch Embassy is funding SNV’s five year HortIMPACT program and considers the agreement an excellent example of the combination trade and development cooperation which forms the core of Dutch development cooperation policy.

The agreement foresees that a total of 500 local farmers will be trained resulting in doubling the annual supply of locally sourced canola oil for Unilever to at least 3,000 MT by the end of 2017.

Tom Derksen, MD Agriculture and Energy at SNV said; “This business case is the start of a wider Conservation Agriculture Revolution for farmers.

It is an excellent example of how SNV works at the producer level, the company supply chain level and across the wider landscape to deliver livelihood benefits for the poor and sustainable development at scale.

It shows agriculture can in fact become more climate resilient and at the same time boost local farmer’s profits.”

February 22, 2017.