By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions
The East African nation of Kenya has become synonymous with high-quality agricultural products, and offers lessons for other countries across the South. The country has been able to combine innovation in new technologies (it is a pioneer in mobile phone applications like m-banking), with quality control for its products like the Coffee Kenya Brand logo (http://www.coffeeboardkenya.org) and ease of access to information on Kenyan products and resources via the internet – crucial to drumming up international business – like the SME Toolkit Kenya (http://kenya.smetoolkit.org/kenya/en) .
There are several advantages to improving standards and productivity in agricultural products in Africa. The first is regional: greater productivity and efficiency will help in reducing malnutrition and food crises that have plagued the continent for decades. Secondly, it also allows Africa to export food to other countries with fast-growing economies and boost the continent’s wealth.
The dramatic changes taking place in African countries – especially rapid urbanization that has made the continent home to 25 of the world’s fastest growing cities (International Institute for Environment and Development) – means there is an urgent need to increase food production and stabilize rural economies to support farming.
Kenya is considered home to one of the continent’s most successful agricultural production zones, with multiple agricultural products and brands developing a solid global reputation for quality.
The country benefits from the fertile Great Rift Valley (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Rift_Valley) , where the country’s biggest crops – tea and coffee – are grown.
Agriculture is a key part of Kenya’s economy: 75 percent of the working population is employed in the sector. Farming sits behind tourism as the country’s second biggest contributor – 20 percent – to the gross domestic product (GDP).
Kenya has had a great deal of success with fruits, vegetables and flowers (Kenyan flowers are a mainstay of many European supermarkets). Kenya has been able to achieve this by using well the 10 percent of the country’s land that is suitable for farming.
Around Mount Kenya (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Kenya) , the cool and wet climate is perfect for farming tea, coffee, flowers, vegetables, corn and sisal. Other products that have been successfully grown include sugar cane, pineapple, cashew nuts, cotton, and livestock-related products – dairy goods, meat, hides and skins.
Kenya’s main export markets are the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Pakistan and the United States. This agricultural export success has had a knock-on effect of reinforcing a global reputation as one of Africa’s best countries for business.
In the tea market, James Finlay and Williamson have a strong reputation and sell to major supermarkets in the UK.
Another successful tea company is Kenya Tea Packers Limited (Ketepa) (http://www.ketepa.com) . A Kenyan-owned company, it enhances the standard of living of the small scale tea growers of Kenya who are the bulk of its shareholders.
Kenya is one of the world’s top 20 coffee producers and has a good reputation for its Arabica beans. Kenya produces 2 million bags of coffee a year and the coffee industry employs 6 million people (www.coffeeboardkenya.org) .
When it comes to exporting flowers (http://www.kenyan-flowers.com) , Kenya is a global powerhouse: 38 percent of the world’s exported flowers are grown there. The majority – 97 percent – are sent to the European Union. Its popular flowers include chrysanthemums, roses and carnations. This time-sensitive crop benefits from the air links of its capital, Nairobi.
Kenya even has a successful brand of beer, Tusker Lager (http://www.tuskerlager.co.uk) . It is a leading export and is proudly African, with its elephant logo and motto “My beer, my country.” It has a large market in the United Kingdom.
Published: June 2010
- Small businesses looking to develop their brand can find plenty of free advice and resources here. Website: www.brandingstrategyinsider.com
- Brandchannel: The world’s only online exchange about branding, packed with resources, debates and contacts to help businesses intelligently build their brand. Website: www.brandchannel.com
- Just Food is a web portal packed with the latest news on the global food industry and packed with events and special briefings to fill entrepreneurs in on the difficult issues and constantly shifting market demands. Website: www.just-food.com
- World Vegetable Center: The World Vegetable Center is the world’s leading international non-profit research and development institute committed to alleviating poverty and malnutrition in developing countries through vegetable research and development. Website: www.avrdc.org
- Marketing African Leafy Vegetables: Challenges and Opportunities in the Kenyan Context By Kennedy M. Shiundu and Ruth. K. Oniang. Website: http://www.ajfand.net/Issue15/PDFs/8%20Shiundu-IPGR2_8.pdf
- Olam: A global food supply company in ‘agri-products’ that got its start in Nigeria – shows how a Southern brand can grow and go global, and overcome the difficulties of cross-border trade. Website: www.olamonline.com
- Dutch Design in Development will help Southern entrepreneurs and small enterprises to develop their brand and design identity and production processes by using experienced Dutch designers. Website: www.ddid.nl/english/index.html
Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.
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