Finding Solutions with Knowledge
Writer: Phoebe Calver
Project Manager: Joshua Mann
Amiran Kenya is the largest one-stop shop for full agriculture solutions in East Africa, playing a key role in the creation of Kenya’s world-leading agriculture sector. Over time the Company has expanded its portfolio of activities and today is leading the way in telecommunications and agriculture.
Synonymous with the highest standards, Amiran is seen as a centre of excellence within the horticulture and floriculture industries in the country; while also leading a major shift in focus towards small scale farmers that is currently being replicated throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
Amiran is part of the UK-based Group, Balton CP, a Company with a strong commercial presence across the region. Since its inception in 1963, the former has been the driving force behind providing complete agricultural solutions in all fields of its expertise. Balton CP is constantly expanding, with branches located in Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia, Nigeria and Ghana. More recently it has opened a representative office in Ethiopia while Amiran works with Balton CP to expand its activity in the region.
“As a start-up Company in the early ‘60s, Amiran grew by introducing new technologies while providing the agri-sector with cutting edge technologies that met the growing demand of the export horticulture industry. So we are very proud to be a big part of that,” comments Aviv Levi, Managing Director of Amiran Kenya.
“When the Company was founded, greenhouses were few and far between so there was a massive opening in the market waiting to be tapped into. Today, Amiran has more than 3,000 hectares of greenhouse growers at its disposal,” explains Levi.
Solid relationships between Amiran and its supply chain is the key to the Company maintaining this dominant market share in Eastern Africa.
Levi expands: “With the growing export market, there is also a growing segment of local investors putting up projects for local produce and exporting some to neighbouring countries in East Africa. Amiran offers project feasibility and turnkey implementation from A- Z.”
Amiran’s holistic approach to projects helps its clients to realise profits in the shortest possible time. Its Business Development team assist to conduct proper market analysis, and help to connect to potential buyers.
“The advantage we have here is that we have the full basket of solutions, from hybrid seeds that we have in the nursery, through the propagation and the right fertilisers, irrigation, pest control solutions through to post harvest solutions through to the right irrigation, all tailor-made to suit the grower’s needs” continues Levi.
In recent years the greenhouse method has been adapted by other vegetable growers, for example tomatoes, cucumbers and herbs exporters.
Amiran is going one step further in focusing its efforts into development projects for coffee and avocado farming. Coffee is a major export crop for Kenya, and avocados have the potential to become a major export crop within five - 10 years. Through seminars and open days, Amiran is raising awareness on how to increase the farmer’s yields and quality of produce.
Its innovative approach towards market evolution also includes Amiran working on creating structures which will enable growers to easily move away from producing set produce in set seasons; therefore ensuring they will be able to increase their profit margin in the off seasons.
Differentiating itself from other companies in the industry, Amiran sells its products alongside training with extensive product knowledge.
“We hold a lot of experience and knowledge that we pass onto our clients, and we believe this is the added value we offer to our clients. Amiran prides itself in providing advice and guidance to clients which helps to build stronger relationships. In addition to this, we represent many leading companies from around the world and constantly look to add on to our portfolio giving our clients a wider range of products and services,” Levi adds.
Amiran can then translate this vast product knowledge and support to the companies it works with, complemented by a comprehensive history and proven track record of excellence.
“Our wide knowledge base translates into growing guides that incorporate all aspects of growing, whether you are farming coffee, avocados, beans or even open field cotton, we will design the irrigation scheme, help you register and choose the varieties/products according to location and target markets,” elaborates Levi. “No matter the crop, Amiran will commit to giving the grower a comprehensive growing guide, provide solutions to challenges and engage in post harvest needs whether you are a famer with a land of 1ha or 1000ha.
“Over the past few years, we noticed the need of up-scaling the small-scale growers, therefore deciding to invest in that sector. We also realised that youth empowerment and young agri business entrepreneurs are on the rise and felt that we should be a part of it.”
Solutions and knowledge
Amiran is a solution-focused Company, and instead of producing physical produce it provides growers with the solutions to their agriculture related needs, backed up with the knowledge and training needed to make it a successful programme.
The Company is working to make sure that the farmers it works with have the knowledge, input, support and resources to be successful in their endeavours; and now, in Levi’s eyes the only thing missing in Africa is good access to the market.
“I can’t tell you that if somebody would grow strawberries today, there would be a good facilitation and good infrastructure to export strawberries in good condition in two days to Europe. If you are a very big company you have your own infrastructure and facilities to do this, but if you are a small grower the country is responsible and the responsibility falls with the government to give you a solution. We can train and we are working on it but it is an aspect that now needs more support from the Government.” says Levi.
The aforementioned training comes in different forms, comprising primarily one-to-one training of others which is integral in building connections with the farmers.
“Our suppliers come over and they give seminars, they will invest a lot of time in the field, there’s an invaluable exchange of ideas and knowledge and then in many cases we’ll do what we call seminars in the community of the farmers,” Levi explains. “We have different kinds of seminars and open days when we bring farmers to the field and we actually demonstrate to them what is transpiring.”
The Company hosts open days and seminars all around Kenya and can receive anywhere between 70 to 200 farmers, providing them with hands-on experience and knowledge needed to achieve success. Amiran also uses these days as a way to launch its new products.
“It’s an excellent time to network and to get ideas from the growers and to understand more about the challenges they face, not to mention a brilliant way of brainstorming to decide the best areas to venture into. So everybody at the end of the day has a very deep interaction with our suppliers around the world,” adds Levi.
Looking forward, Amiran is very driven in its goal to upgrade the level of agriculture in Kenya and for young people to see the commercial potential of its homeland. With the demand of food increasing, the Company’s aim is to show them the opportunities on their doorstep and to demonstrate the ways they can make a living and a future from agriculture.
“We continue to bring on board the young people that are much more open minded and more open to adopting different ideas, we want prosperity for everyone,” affirms Levi.
With a resourceful team and the capacity to support large-scale projects, Amiran can now look forward to advancing the same qualities in other countries around the continent.
“One of the most exciting aspects is that we are located in Kenya but we are working on projects all around Africa. We have the capacity and the capability to do so; and there are a lot of promising opportunities to move to other countries