On 16 October, we celebrate World Food Day which is an opportunity to recognise and support our food heroes - farmers and workers throughout the food system.
We honour those who are making sure that food makes its way from farm to fork even amid disruptions as unprecedented as the current COVID-19 crisis. On this occasion, we have taken the opportunity to speak to Yaron Cohen and Trevor Sherwin from Amiran, a farmer-led agricultural product distribution company based in Kenya.
Amiran has been helping farmers to farm sustainably since 1963. Can you tell me a little bit more about the organisation's focus?
It focuses on understanding the needs, challenges and opportunities faced by farmers and creates solutions to help farmers improve yield, meet market requirements for produce quality, reduce costs through more efficient use of inputs, and produce more from available land. It creates packages of agricultural inputs and equipment to effect these solutions.
Through a global network of market-leading manufacturers of agricultural products, Amiran can select the right products for the farmers’ needs in Kenya. The company’s extensive team of agronomists then provides training and support to farmers on how to make the best use of these innovations and achieve success. This approach is reflected in Amiran’s well-known slogan, “Our Knowledge, Your Success”.
Amiran is part of the UK headquartered Balton CP group of companies and has sister companies in 7 other African countries, each of them take a similar approach to tailoring agricultural products for local market needs and providing agronomic and technical support.
Amiran Kenya has recently launched Project Madaraka. Can you explain the goal of this initiative?
Project Madaraka is an initiative of Amiran to enable it to provide its full product range to farmers based on affordable and projected cash flow based terms. Combining Madaraka’s credit solution with Amiran’s market-leading products, market knowledge, and after-sales agronomy support, significantly improves the likelihood of crop success and consequently reduces the risk associated with agricultural financing.
The ultimate objective of Project Madaraka is to deploy credit capital to the customers of agricultural product-solution vendors such as Balton group; to drive rural prosperity in Africa by supporting farmers and agribusinesses to gain access to products and services that enable them to do more, faster and more efficiently whilst increasing climate resilience. In the medium term, the spin-out company will onboard other companies in the supply of agricultural products and services across Africa, to serve their end customers with vendor-driven credit solutions.
Given the range of uncertainties, it is exposed to, crop production is probably the riskiest enterprise human beings undertake for profit. By keeping the credit solution close to the product specialists in agriculture and using credit as an enabler for product vendor companies to grow with their customers, Project Madaraka intends to play a major role in enhancing productivity, increasing climate resilience and reducing food insecurity in Africa.
What is the profile of the farmers you work with?
Amiran works with all segments of the market, from smallholder farmers, to SME growers, to large scale agribusinesses. Amiran products suit farmers of any scale that are farming commercially on at least some of their land and are seeking to increase their yield and improve crop quality.
Over the past 50 years, Amiran has played a major role in the growth of the export horticulture sector in Kenya, currently working with most major export farms. Amiran also works with large scale broad acre farmers in cereals, tea, coffee, canola, avocado, macadamia and other tree/commodity crops, providing both input and irrigation solutions.
In the last 20 years, Amiran has been supporting smaller-scale farmers in Kenya with input solutions for small-scale farmers growing for both local and export markets. It has also introduced new concepts in small scale irrigated farming with standardised offerings under the Amiran Farmers Kit brand for customers seeking sub 1-acre open field irrigation and greenhouse solutions.
Today the company distributes seeds, crop nutrition, crop protection and irrigation components through hundreds of agro-dealers around the country supported by Amiran’s team of field agronomists; as well as providing a range of standardised and custom irrigation project solutions to farmers through direct sales from the company’s Nairobi HQ.
Water efficient irrigation system
Tomatoes grown using sustainable farming methods