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Herbs and spices marketer looking for chilli out-growers to meet local demand

drying chilli
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Afya Choice, herbs and spices marketing wing of Helitech, a community-based organization (CBO) in Lari, Kiambu County is looking for more chilli out-growers to meet their growing local markets.

Currently, the marketer has only three farmers, two in Kenya and one in Tanzania against 50 needed producers. The current three produce about eight tonnes of African bird’s eye variety of chilli per month but this is not even enough to meet local demand.

“The two Kenyan farmers have 100x100m piece of plot each producing a total of 3 tonnes a month while the Tanzanian grower has five acres with a capacity of producing seven tonnes a month but currently producing five tonnes against our target of 500,000 tonnes to meet local demands and venture into the lucrative international markets.,” said George Gathuru, value addition officer at Helitech.

Kenyan chilli producers who previously were exporting to Europe are currently eyeing the Middle East with the produce as the Codling Moth pest continues to impact negatively business in the European Union (EU) where the pest has been quarantine.

“Over 90 per cent of the firms that used to export chilli to Europe have stopped because of the presence of Codling Moth pest that is a quarantine pest in Europe,” said Ojepati Okesegere, chief executive at Fresh Producers Consortium of Kenya.

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For Afya Choice which taking advantage of a number of key local markets such as the supermarkets and other food retail chains in Nairobi and Kiambu, the trick is drying the crop as a way of value addition which attracts more consumers and prices.

“We do not sell fresh chillies as most of our consumers like them dry. When dry, the crop sells at Sh600 per kilo as compared to Sh100-200 when fresh,” said Gathuru.

All a farmer needs to work with Afya Choice is the land, the willingness to practice organic farming and attend production trainings offered by the marketer’s team of agronomists to ensure that they produce is of quality according to market demands.

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Stevia Afya Choice

Afya Choice stevia powder. Photo courtesy

Other benefits

Besides agronomical trainings, farmers are also offered free drying services as the CBO has a solar dryer with 100-200 kilos drying capacity.

“Furthermore, we are offering marketing services to our farmers as we have been certified by Kenya Organic Agriculture Network (KOAN) for our organic production of various herbs and spices enabling us to sell to supermarkets and malls such as Smarthome Supermarket in Kiambu and  Village Market Mall in Nairobi,” said Gathuru.

RELATED CONTENT: Chilli variety takes the weep out of farmers’ barren lands

Afya Choice packaged product

Afya Choice product. Photo courtesy.

Other crops

The CBO has of 54 farmers at the moment with a total of 25 acres of land under which they grow herbs and spices such as thyme, mint(tropical, pepper and pineapple mints), black seed, neem, oregano, lemongrass, hibiscus, and moringa among others.

Most of these produce are dried, processed and packaged before branded Afya Choice for various markets.

“Our aim is to help farmers not only earn good income but also impart in them various farming skills that preserve life, soil and environment. In this, we need more youth to work with us because they are the future,” said Gathuru.

He can be reached on +254 701 179 490 or Afya Choice through +254 791 169 268.

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