Spinach Dehydration Project
Our opportunity for penetrating the dehydrates market from Kenya has been facilitated by Partners Worldwide (www.partnersworldwide.org, of which Akili is a partner in the form of a Local Community Institution), to supply a buyer in the USA who has the capacity to absorb large quantities of dehydrated vegetables.
Why Dehydrates?Dehydrated vegetables can play a pivotal role in overcoming Kenya’s perennial market failures in agriculture, in particular:
- The seasonal market price fluctuations (for tomatoes, cabbage, potatoes) that characterize local markets during the rainy vs the dry weather months. For the spinach order, Akili has secured an all-year market.
- The annual price drop during the summer (in the West) months, which, in the case of fresh produce for export, translates in 8 months (April through November) of selling at below production cost, with prices rising only during the cold season in Europe. In the case of spinach, Akili has obtained a fixed price throughout the year.
- The losses that farmers incur as a result of stringent physical grading (eg rejection of ‘curved’ French beans. Vegetables intended for dehydration only need to meet minimum residue levels, and be otherwise healthy. Dehydration reduces the weight of vegetables by as much as 15 times, cutting down transport costs and also preserving the vegetables for long-term storage and shipping by sea.
Through the Akili Group, spinach growers are enlisted to produce spinach (the Fordhook Giant species). Through this project, employment opportunities will be created for:
- Growers, enlisted in Nyumba Kumi groups at the production area;
- Lead Farmers (to manage Nyumba Kumi production and accountability groups;
- Agronomists to manage the implementation of HACCP based application of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for groups of 100 Nyumba Kumi units;
- Transporters (on hire basis) who must transport the produce with compliance to set guidelines;
- Produce Collectors/Graders at grading sheds; and
- Factory Workers at the dehydration station