Making Kenya’s Farmers More Climate Resilient
Yvonne Otieno found a way to fight food waste
Yvonne Otieno, founder and CEO of Miyonga ⎮Photo: @Alan Mola
Farmers face many challenges, from growing unsuitable varieties of crops in the wrong ecological zones, to lacking a prerequisite certification that would grant them market access and post-harvest losses caused by the lack of using modern cutting-edge farming technology.
As Miyonga’s CEO, Yvonne deals with these challenges every day. Her company is active in the processing and exporting of fruits and vegetables grown in Kenya.
In 2015, Miyonga began as a small-scale operation located on Yvonne’s own land. As time passed, Miyonga kept growing and now the company provides customers with fresh produce, dried and powdered fruits throughout Kenya and various European countries.
To meet the rising demand for fresh and processed fruits, Miyonga started working with contract farmers located in Kenya’s various climatic regions. The diversification of agricultural product sourcing and the different regional harvest periods allows for year-round operations. However, the fruits and vegetables still required transportation from their various locations to the processing and packing facility in Nairobi. For Miyonga, this meant costs and risk in quality losses as the products make the long journey from the farm gates to the city.
In response, Yvonne invested in a mobile processing facility, which is a 40-foot shipping container with an integrated dryer. Now, fruits are no longer dried in Nairobi but at the aggregation sites, whereto the farmers can bring their fruits for processing. The mobile factory moves from one aggregation site to another, depending on when produce is ready to be harvested and processed.
The aggregation site in Taita Taveta: Container Dryer and Solar Powered Mill
Photo: @Kilian Blumenthal
Processing fruits into dried or powdered products gives value to surplus and second-grade fruits that are perfectly nutritious but would not make it to national or international markets. By using these previously lost crops, the contracted farmers are able to sell more of their harvest and increase their income.Farmers in Kenya rely on rainfed agriculture. They're especially vulnerable to droughts and flooding which can destroy their crops says Yvonne Otieno of Miyonga #Kenya #agriculture Cliquez pour tweeter
Yvonne’s enthusiasm in leading Miyonga and working with farmers led to a cooperation agreement with Water and Energy for Food’s East Africa Hub in late 2020. The Integrated Development Partnership with the Private Sector is an eye-to-eye partnership where both sides agree on activities that are beneficial for the greater good, but also for the private company. The activities’ costs are split equally between the partners.
Miyonga and the East Africa RIH’s partnership focuses on supporting farmers’ climate resilience efforts and piloting climate-smart food processing. Miyonga and the East Africa RIH provide contracted farmers with training on good agricultural practices. The training supports them in adapting to the effects of climate change, increasing their yield and decreasing pre and post-harvest losses. Farmers also receive support to pursue organic certification, which will open up new markets and help meet the growing demand for organic products.