Feeding the world’s growing population is a serious challenge. Food insecurity is concentrated in developing nations, where drought and low soil fertility are primary constraints to food production. Many crops in developing countries are supported by weathered soils in which nutrient deficiencies and ion toxicities are common. Many systems have declining soil fertility due to inadequate use of fertility inputs, ongoing soil degradation, and increasingly intense resource use by growing populations.
Lentera limited from Kenya are offering solutions to improve soil quality. They are a soil health and crop nutrition company working to restore soils to their optimum nutrition levels enabling farmers to attain higher yield. The company was founded in 2016 by Moses Kimani, who has a long experience in the coffee and horticulture industry as well as the agrochemical sector. Lentera has a team of 7 staff including 4 agronomists and 1 soil scientist. They have ensured that over 1400 farmers have received crop nutrition solutions since 2016.
Their products include a silicon foliar fertilizer, an organic rock phosphate fertilizer and a micronutrient fertilizer. The silicon foliar fertilizer enables plants to tolerate dry weather stress, increase yield and increase resistance to pests and diseases. The organic rock phosphate fertilizer provides plant with available phosphorous as an environmentally friendly alternative to DAP fertilizer. Repeated use of DAP reduces microbial life in the soil and could lead to high acidity in soil, reducing farmer yields. Finally the micronutrient fertilizer delivers six essential micronutrients to plants increasing the overall yield of farmers.
Lentera recently launched scientific trials in the rice sector with the Mwea Rice Growers Multipurpose Cooperative. For the trial, 15 demonstration farms of 1 acre each were selected and farmers were provided with the Soluble Silicon fertilizer. Within two applications, the results were evident. There was an observable increase in vigor, height and most importantly, weight of the crop. Harvesting of the demonstration plots will begin in December 2017 but preliminary results show a 30% increase in yield as a result of using the Silicon Foliar fertilizer.
Lentera’s Silicon foliar fertilizers have also worked well in several crop segments. Dr. John Maimba from Kahuhia, Murang’a County can attest to the positive high yields. Having harvested 1000kg of coffee in 2016, he started using Lentera’s Silicon Foliar fertilizer in July 2017. To date, he has harvested 2000kg and is still harvesting. “I saw increased foliage after using the fertilizer, my coffee cherries are well formed and heavy, that is why I am able to get a significant yield increase from the same piece of land” said Dr. Maimba.
Silicon fertilizers work by increasing the efficiency of the plant cellular structure, enabling plants to take up more nutrients from the soil, increasing yield. They also reduce excessive perspiration by plants, hence enabling plants to better tolerate drought stress, an important consideration in today’s changing climatic conditions. Lentera’s CropNutrient Silicon Foliar fertilizer has shown the benefits of using Silicon as a fertilizer and has worked well for coffee, cereals, and horticulture crops.
Moses detailed, “We are privileged to have joined the Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC). We took part in the mentorship program, where together with our business mentor; we developed our marketing and sales strategy, including our 18-month sales plan that has been instrumental in achieving our revenue target. KCIC together with ICDC also facilitated our participation in the Nairobi ASK show, where we connected with several prospective customers. I recommend all business owners working in the clean technology space to consider joining KCIC’s program.”
By Michelle Mung’ata