KENYA – Agribusiness investor Agris through its Kenyan subsidiary Evergreen Herbs, has expanded production of fresh cut herbs with installation of a new farm in Kajiado county.
Evergreen is one of East Africa’s leading producer of herbs such as basil, chives, marjoram, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, sorrel, tarragon and thyme.
The new farm according to Maris Limited, the parent company of Agris, adds 15 hectares of greenhouses and 6 ha of open field production to their existing 25 ha production site at Athi River.
“Demand for our herbs now exceeds pre-COVID levels and we’ve been able to make the Kajiado investment.”Ran Kadosh – Agris Managing Director.
Agris acquired Evergreen in March 2020, just as the global lockdown triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic devastated Kenya’s herb industry which saw sales declining by 70% overnight.
The company had to lay off 80 out of 300 staff, indicated Ran Kadosh, Agris Managing Director.
To this end the new investment will save 100 jobs in the company and create 150 new position.
“COVID hit at the very start of the business. But we knew our geography and the technical know-how of our management team positioned us to produce a unique offering, so we decided to use the time to invest in new infrastructure – roads, drainage, greenhouses and irrigation.
“Demand for our herbs now exceeds pre-COVID levels and we’ve been able to make the Kajiado investment. We are anticipating a busy season as winter demand from Europe comes online,” said Ran.
Evergreen Herbs now employs 650 workers, 50% female, across its two sites and production is growing month-on-month.
Their mission is to become East Africa’s leading fresh herb producer, capitalising on the Nairobi climate, their range of greenhouse sizes, and new agri-technology to produce an extensive basket of fresh herbs, all year round.
“We are investing heavily in new solutions to reduce the need for chemical inputs and to extend shelf-life,” said Amir Kerner, Evergreen Herbs Managing Director. “We are going further than most producers to harness the latest agri-tech.”
The company has invested in a new hydroponics system will allow them to fine-tune micro and macro feeding elements. They are alsousing biological products combined with Integrated Pest Management eliminate chemical residues.
Kenya’s horticulture sub-sector (flowers, herbs, nuts, spices, fruit and vegetables) has grown rapidly over the past decade to become one of the country’s top foreign exchange earners.
Global demand for fresh herbs is increasing at a CAGR of 3.9% between 2018 and 2025.
2020 lockdowns have created a supply shortfall in the market as producers in East Africa and around the world have been forced out of business. Domestic demand is rising too, especially from urban supermarkets and the restaurant sector.
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