Kenyan Growers Move From ‘No Tech’ to ‘Low Tech’
A group of Dutch companies, active in the horticultural and vegetable-growing sectors, have assisted small and medium-sized horticulturalists in Kenya.
Image: ©C. Schubert (CCAFS) / CGIAR / C. Schubert (CCAFS) / CGIAR
These companies designed three special greenhouses adapted to the local circumstances in Kenya. The goal: improved sustainable production and a better position for local vegetable producers. Another goal is to increase food safety and food security for Kenyan consumers.
The three plastic greenhouses, each 500m² in area, are located about 70 kilometres south of Nairobi. 'What is special about this,' says Harm Maters of Growing Solutions Kenya, 'is that we conceived them purely with the local situation in mind. The climate in Kenya is such that the cultivation of vegetables like cucumbers and tomatoes benefits from growing these crops under protected conditions. This is what we provide with these greenhouses. Some of the benefits they provide are that less water is needed, that insects cannot get to the crops, that excessively bright sunlight cannot get in, and that ventilation is properly regulated.'
Three types of greenhouses
The vast majority of the local farmers in this region do not use technology in their field of work. Therefore the Dutch consortium developed three types of greenhouses: Basic, Plus, and Advanced. Each facility differs from one type to another, ranging from simple irrigation and ventilation by opening windows to computer-controlled climate control and water supply.
The Plus model further includes a system for applying artificial fertiliser. The Advanced model makes it possible to grow crops on a substrate, which prevents the transmission of plant diseases. All of these solutions have in common that they are not too complex. The goal of the transformation is to go from ‘no tech’ to ‘low tech’.
Aside from setting up these greenhouses, Growing Solutions Kenya also works on capacity building by training local growers. 'Here, we teach them how to use the greenhouses to get the best possible results,' says Mr. Maters.
The entire project will enable the local horticulture sector to make major improvements in the field of the production level to the quality of the vegetables and ultimately to the income of the numerous small-scale and medium-scale farmers in the region.
The project receives support from the Dutch government’s 2g@there programme. 'That’s very important to us', says Harm Maters. 'Kenya is a long way away, and it will be quite a while before we can make good on our investment. Financial assistance is virtually essential in situations like this.'
The participating Dutch companies hope that this project will enable them to tap into a wide range of markets in Kenya and throughout the rest of East Africa. 'It would be a prime example of Aid-to-Trade.'
What is 2g@there-OS?
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs uses the 2g@there-OS subsidy programme to strengthen the local business environment in target countries for Dutch development cooperation.