Hillside Green Growers, contributing to food security 'The role of small and medium Agro-enterprises in achieving food security’ was the subject of a KLV Alumni ‘World Lecture’ that took place on January 15, 2014 in the Impulse Building 115 of Wageningen UR. To this end KLV had invited AAA Member Mrs. Eunice Mwongera from Kenya, who is the owner of Hillside Green Growers. Hillside Green Growers is an SME that is engaging smallholder farmers in the Mt Kenya Region in value chains in quality fresh fruits (mango, avocado, passion fruit) and vegetables (beans, sugar snaps, carrots, chillies, aubergines) for markets in Europe, the Middle East and local. For a mixed audience of over 80 students, researchers, lecturers, entrepreneurs, NGO representatives and policy makers, Mrs. Mwongera explained and showed what her company is doing and how, in particular in the absence of enabling governmental policies and services. Extension towards participating farmers, for example –training in agronomic practices, crop protection, fertilizer use- are all provided through Hillside Green Growers and its NGO partners. The smallholder farmers (typically owning 0.2-10 ha of land and supporting some 5-20 dependents) work on contract basis with Hillside.
For more pictures (29!) of this evening, please click here.
Hillside Green Growers is a family business of about 1.3 million € annual turnover, that employs some 150 people as field support staff and in the pack house in Nairobi, mainly single mothers from the Kibera city slum. Certified quality production, value addition (packing) and marketing of the products are the main objectives. Associated farmers, about 8000, benefit through increased productivity and prompt payment at guaranteed prices and spending the extra income earned on investments in the farm house, the family and in farm operations. In the lively discussions that followed Mrs. Mwongera’s presentation, critical questions centred on the effectiveness of export-oriented value chains in achieving local food –and nutrition- security, the ecological impact of pesticides & fertilizers, the needs and ways of farmer training –what role for governments?- and how the positive example and experiences provided by Hillside Green Growers can be out-scaled to other areas in Kenya and indeed to other African countries.