By Jacktone Lawi
Unilever East Africa, in partnership with Agventure and SNV Netherlands Development Organisation are planning to train 500 farmers at a cost of 23 million as the firm looks to double canola oil production in 2017
The three entities signed a Memorandum of Agreement formalizing the venture that aims to double canola oil production in Kenya by the end of 2017 via contract farming arrangements.
The agreement involves technical assistance to local farmers and a financial investment of KES 23 Million split among the three partners.
As part of the agreement, SNV will work with Agventure, a local cooperative of large enterprise farmers that started growing canola and producing canola oil since 2010. Together they will scale up the number of local farmers and train them on approaches of conservation agriculture to make them more productive, profitable and resilient to climate change.
According to Unilever about 99percent of edible oil in the country is imported and the partnership will be looking towards reducing the gap with a view to meet the country’s demand for canola by half come 2018.
Speaking during the MoA signing, Unilever East Africa MD Justin Apsey lauded the partnership sighting that it went hand in hand with Unilever’s Sustainability commitment towards reducing environmental impact and improving local farmer livelihoods.
“Sustainable farming methods have the potential to increase yields considerably, mitigate the effects of climate change and provide economic and social benefits to farmers, their families, and the surrounding communities. Participating local farmers will benefit from and contribute to economic development and sustainable farming practices in Kenya.”
It is a break with the past from traditional to conservation farming and as such, significantly reduces erosion, improves water retention and leads to fewer weeds, pests and diseases.
The farmers’ risks are more diversified compared to planting mono-crops and it increases their climate resilience.
An approach that will result in higher yields and returns as well as reduced labour, fertilizer and pesticide costs.
The agreement foresees that a total of 500 local farmers will be trained resulting in doubling the annual supply of locally sourced canola oil for Unilever to at least 3,000 MT by the end of 2017.
Tom Derksen, MD Agriculture and Energy at SNV said the business case is the start of a wider Conservation Agric