The high amount of coconut husk waste in Kenya and the need for coco peat among horticulture growers is what made James Kapombe establish his own company Cocogrow in 2018. Cocogrow produces coco peat locally, which is not the usual route to follow as 99% of coco peat in Kenya is still imported from other countries. “At the moment we are focusing on improving the quality of our coco peat for the growers, yet we are running into challenges with machinery and remaining high waste.”
“Not where we want to be”
Kapombe explains that the piloting for their production is going on well, but there is still much more to be done. "Our current production capacity is 2 tonnes a day which is very low compared to the market demand. At the moment we are looking to acquire a coco peat block making machine, which will help ease logistics."
Reducing waste by making ropes
While CocoGrow is using existing coconut husk waste to produce coco peat, there is still much waste left (coir fiber). In March 2019 CocoGrow's first production site in Mariakani, Kilifi (North Coast, Kenya) was totally burnt down through a fire accident. The company relocated to a factory on the South Coast that same year. "At the new factory, we recently acquired an automated rope making machine from India. This is a great way to utilize the coir fiber and the ropes can then be used for gardening, hops, construction, and scaffolding, for example.”
Creating value added products
“For us it is important to improve the quality of our coco peat in this pilot phase, then we can offer value added products to growers as we scale up. Through a program with experts from PUM Netherlands we have been able to improve existing processes and develop protocols for a streamlined and consistent process according to European standards. We hope that the future will bring us the high quality and consistent product we are aiming to provide growers,” says Kapombe.
Partners and funding
“While we want to optimize the production and improve quality , we cannot underestimate the capital intensive nature of the operations hence we are always looking for potential partners and funding,” says Kapombe.
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