Basil, a common aromatic herb in the mint family. Photo courtesy.
Helitech, a community based organisation in Lari Sub-County, Kiambu County is helping farmers by training and providing them with farm inputs to grow herbs such as chia, basil and fennel among others whose prices are all-time stable as compared to grains and cereals that the farmers were growing before.
“Herbs prices do not fluctuate much in market like it does with vegetables, grains and cereals as most of them are sold directly to wholesalers, where the prices are constant and pretty standard through the year,” said George Gathuri, herbs and spices value addition manager at Helitech.
According to him some of these herbs had gone into extension as farmers turned to other crop production. However, of late farmers are taking the venture back upon realising its lucrative markets with stable market price as compared to other produce.
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The CBO is currently supporting farmers in the area to grow the crops by giving them technical and financial support to buy seedlings and fertilisers among other farm inputs as a way of ensuring better planting materials and production.
The farmers grow chia, basil, fennel, fenugreek, thyme, rosemary, tarragon, mint and oregano among others which the CBO buys from them upon maturity and harvesting to produce powder, flaky, and some oils which they sell to various organic markets and hotels in Nairobi.
“We sell our products to ridgeways market, Pidium in Karen, Bridges Hotel, village open air markets and individuals who order for our products,” said Gathuri.
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For bulk buyers, a kilo of any herb goes at Sh800 while others who buy in smaller quantities can spend up to Sh1,500 per kilo.
The CBO also advertise their products online through social media and farmer events such as field days with plans underway to form a sacco out of the CBO by June this year to enable them fully commercialise the venture.
“Operating under a CBO has been limiting our full potentials. We do not have our own machines to do value addition and instead we have been relying on support from the government agricultural institutions and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT),” said Gathuri.
The herbs are sent directly to wholesalers, who then repack them and send them out to their different consumers and our offer depend on demand.
Gathuri can be reached on +254 701 179490