According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), it is estimated that 1.3 billion tonnes of food which translates to 30 per cent does not make it from the farm to the table. This loss is attributed to lack of information and knowledge in the food supply chain coupled with limited financing in equipment either for harvesting, processing, storage and markets.
With these challenges, in mind, Azuri Health Limited was established in 2010 with the aim of providing alternative healthy snacks for the growing population and reduce post harvest losses from farmers. Annually, the company has been producing 10 tonnes of dried fruit and nine tonnes of flour for the East African Market. The dried fruits range from pineapples, passion, mangoes, bananas and coconuts which feeds into their six product lines; four of dried fruit and two of flour.
Last month, the company launched its new drying facility in Thika town with a production capacity of 12 -30 tonnes of dried fruit and flour annually at a cost of KSh10 million. The company has been relying on solar energy to dry the fruits which has not been reliable especially during wet weather and lack of enough sun which slows their production.
With the support of KCIC, the company was able to acquire a biogas solar drier which will ensure continuity and production regardless of the weather. The waste from the fruits is used in the biogas digester therefore making the plant an environmental friendly facility.
With the drier in place, it takes nine hours to dry as compared to solar drying which takes two days. This means that post harvest losses will be reduced significantly as production increases.
Currently, the company is working with a network of approximately 600 small holder farmers who supply quality fruits, vegetables and cereals.
Speaking at the launch of the new facility, the Chief Executive Officer, Tei Mukunya affirmed that Azuri was passionate about supporting farmers in finding market for their produce and at the same time improving livelihoods by creating sustainable, competitive and profitable products. Their main goal is to reduce post harvest losses and contribute to achieving SDG2 which aims to end hunger by achieving food security and improving nutrition through proper management of of harvested food.
During the launch, the Chairman of the company Julius Kipng’etich noted that there is a high demand for dried fruit especially among the urban population. Therefore, the new plant will ensure consistency in production and supply of the products. He also encouraged appreciated the role of small scale farmers who are their main suppliers of the fruits and vegetables.
Azuri products are available in leading supermarket chain stores like Nakumatt, Uchumi and Chandarana.
Last week the team from Climate Technology Program (CTP) paid a courtesy visit at the factory to learn more about the use of solar and biogas in drying fruits. The team expressed their enthusiasm with the use of environmental friendly technologies to enhance food production.