Over 2,000 smallholder groundnut farmers in Baringo and Elgeyo Marakwet counties stand to benefit from a project initiated by Kenyan SME Greenforest Foods.
The project is supported by the European Union and Slovak Aid, through its AgriFI Kenya Challenge Fund.
Greenforest Foods Ltd, a local SME and processor of Peanut Snacks, Peanut Butter and honey has recruited 1,500 smallholder farmers and intends to recruit the 500 more famers in the first quarter of 2022 to grow groundnuts. This is a two (2)-year project running from 2021-2022.
According to Athanas Matheka, the Director of the Project and the Chief Executive (CEO) of Greenforest Foods Ltd, groundnuts have the potential of providing farmers in the two counties with considerably higher margins and profitable incomes.
Groundnuts are a resilient crop that takes 3-4 months to harvest, which give smallholder farmers a faster return on their investment.
At the farm level, Matheka said Greenforest Foods is providing extension services in collaboration with County Governments of Elgeyo Marakwet and Baringo to access clean seeds and aflatoxin management at the farm level. This way, the value chain guarantees aflatoxin-free produce which is nutritious and safe for consumers.
Matheka said Greenforest Foods commits to off-take the produce at pre-agreed prices, which is a vote of confidence on the farmers’ part.
“The project is focused to minimize and possibly eliminate the use of chemicals and pesticides which are harmful and costly to the farmers,” he said.
“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,” Matheka said.
Peanut farming has potential to generate two to three times better margins than other crops like maize.
Available data indicates that most groundnut farmers in the country face several challenges which put them off from farming the crop.
These challenges include 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.
AgriFI Kenya Challenge Fund initiative addresses these problems, by enabling farmers through Greenforest Foods Ltd, to unlock their potential by offering them support.
“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 knowhow of climate-smart and good agricultural practices, and a lack of market access and information,” notes a report by the fund.
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 due to Kenya’s inability to produce.
“For a really long time, we have faced the challenge of getting quality groundnuts locally. With this project, we not only get to grow our business, but also get to increase income for local smallholder farmers,” Matheka explained.
By Joseph Ng’ang’a