Eunice Muthoni, a Nairobi based aloe Vera exporter quit her job one year ago at Laikipia County government to venture into aloe vera export business, a decision she does not regret.
On average, Eunice exports 16 to 20 tons per month.
“This is a new market which I was introduced to by a friend, having made connections from my previous place of work with farmers I was working with in the transport sector, I decided to try my luck and it has worked out well,” said Eunice.
She sources the produce from the farmers who sell them at a price of between Sh200 and Sh250 in peak season and for the off the season, the prices shoot to Sh350 or even Sh400. She then resells them at Sh600 per kilo thereby earning her at least 42 per cent profit on the final sales.
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Aloe vera plant. (Photo: courtesy)
The agriculture sector in Kenya can be classified as the country’s second largest contributor of about 24 per cent of the country’s GDP through export products.
While the sectors main exports are horticultural products, tea and coffee, the export market has since grown with new upfront in the market like aloe Vera export market that is increasingly growing.
Eunice says that the Aloe Vera market depends on the seasons, just as other crops; there are seasons where it’s in plenty and seasons where there is little or no supply. In the dry season, the sap in the aloes reduces which makes it hard to hit the 16 tons minimum target for export.
However, once the farmers harvest the aloes, they collect the sap from the aloes, boil them to get the juice before they then transport it to Nairobi, the good thing with the aloe sap is that it doesn’t go bad and also doesn’t require any preservatives however long it takes to get all the supplies form the farmers.
“Exporting the aloe Vera has also been a bigger challenge, unlike other products which exporting is a bit easy, I have a hard time exporting the aloes, there many government bodies involved and sometimes it takes long for the products to reach my clients overseas”, said Eunice.
According to Kenya’s local aloe vera processor Herbal Garden Ltd, the demand for aloe vera is at an all-time high with a kilo of the plant’s leaves fetching Sh40 up from Sh25, two years ago.
An acre of land, which can accommodate 4000 plants on average, is likely to earn farmers an average of Sh840,000 up from an average of sh600,000 per harvest., Aloe Vera takes 18-24 months to mature and produces at least four leaves per plant, each weighing 1.5-2kg. After the first harvest, leaves can be harvested every 3-4 months, allowing farmers in Kenya to earn up to Sh3.35m per acre annually.