As new trends in the agribusiness sector continue to emerge with new ideas popping up regularly, more and more companies are coming up with sustainable solutions to help small scale farmers grow for a better future.
With the aim of providing affordable, locally sourced and sustainable agricultural solutions to small scale farmers in Kenya, Gladys Kabue alongside her business partners founded Cocoponics Africa Limited.
“We started the company with the aim of providing affordable and locally sourced coco peats to small scale Kenyan farmers so that they would not have to outsource them anymore from other countries such as India. Outsourcing also proved to be very expensive for the farmers too,” said Gladys.
The company mainly operates within the coconut production sector primarily focusing on coconut husks which is waste from harvested coconuts. The company processes the husks to produce coco peat which is powdered extract from the mechanical breakdown of koya husks.
The coco peat is quite popular among horticultural farmers especially those focusing on hydroponics given its ability to maintain its normal state in water. Also, the peat is sustainable and also a renewable source.
In addition to the coco peats, the company also recently started producing briquettes. “Under our partnership with KCIC, we recently started producing briquettes too made from the koya fiber,” said Gladys.
She adds that they have been stockpiling the koya fibers for a while now with the aim of converting them to briquettes. The briquettes are purposely catered to act as a solution for clean cooking within the community. The company is also currently testing out burners that are compatible with the briquettes and can be used as a package.
Given that most small scale farmers either lack access to capital or technical knowledge, the company set up a program that offers both financial support and technical training support depending on the need of the farmer. The financial support program is for farmers who are financially unstable and through it, they can access an entire product set on credit. On the other hand, the technical support program offers training and consultancy services to the farmers. The company has also managed to partner with various knowledgeable ventures to assist them in providing financial assistance and technical and training support to the farmers.
The company also offers customizable products tailor-made towards their customer’s preference. They have also managed to set up distribution channels whereby they have distributors who stock the products in bulk and sell them to their clients who are mainly propagators and horticultural farmers.
Having been in the market for a while now, they are happy to note that one of their major highlights is turning an idea into a product and a solution towards a sustainable future. Though they still experience challenges such as easy access to capital which has put a hold on some projects. Also climatic conditions have been a challenge though for the past two years the weather conditions have been favorable.
Through their partnership with KCIC, they have received training and advice on business development which has proven beneficial to the company. “Under the partnership, we hope to gain exposure so that we can attract other investors to support us. This will enable us to continue to turn our ideas into reality,” says Gladys.
She also adds that any capital assistance would be highly appreciated given that this would help boost the other types of services that they offer their clients especially in the human resource department.