[Kenya] Agris expands Evergreen Herbs production capacity with new greenhouses
Evergreen Herbs Ltd, one of East Africa’s producers of fresh cut herbs, has started operations at a farm that was set to close in Kajiado, Nairobi.
Evergreen Herbs Kajiado (EHK) adds 15 hectares of greenhouses and 6 ha of open field production to their existing 25 ha production site at nearby Athi River. The new investment saves 100 Kajiado jobs and creates 150 new positions.
Agris acquired Evergreen Herbs in March 2020, just as the global lockdown devastated Kenya’s herb industry. “COVID hit at the very start of the business,” says Ran Kadosh, Agris Managing Director. “Sales fell by 70% overnight and we had to lay off 80 out of 300 staff.”
“But we knew our geography and the technical know-how of our management team positioned us to produce a unique offering, so we decided to use the time to invest in new infrastructure - roads, drainage, greenhouses and irrigation.
“Demand for our herbs now exceeds pre-COVID levels and we’ve been able to make the Kajiado investment. We are anticipating a busy season as winter demand from Europe comes online.”
Evergreen Herbs now employs 650 workers, 50% female, across its two sites and production is growing month-on-month. Their mission is to become East Africa’s leading fresh herb producer, capitalising on the Nairobi climate, their range of greenhouse sizes, and new agri-technology to produce an extensive basket of fresh herbs, all year round.
“We are investing heavily in new solutions to reduce the need for chemical inputs and to extend shelf-life.” says Amir Kerner, Evergreen Herbs Managing Director. “We are going further than most producers to harness the latest agri-tech. A new hydroponics system will allow us to fine-tune micro and macro feeding elements. Biological products combined with Integrated Pest Management eliminate chemical residues.”
Kenya’s horticulture sub-sector - flowers, herbs, nuts, spices, fruit and vegetables - has grown rapidly over the past decade to become one of the country’s top foreign exchange earners. Global demand for fresh herbs is increasing at a CAGR of 3.9% between 2018 and 2025. 2020 lockdowns have created a supply shortfall in the market as producers in East Africa and around the world have been forced out of business. Domestic demand is rising too, especially from urban supermarkets and the restaurant sector.