Enterprise

Entrepreneur mints cash from seaweeds fertiliser

seeweed

Summary

  • Over the last couple of years Kenyan consumers have increasingly become picky eaters.
  • With reports raising the alarm over the application of toxic pesticides that put consumers’ health at risk, the demand for food grown without chemicals has been increasing.
  • Seeing this exponential growth, Mr Mohamed Abubakar sniffed a business opportunity to provide organic fertiliser.
  • The Mombasa resident had for long seen seaweeds washed on beaches go to waste as it decomposes.

Over the last couple of years, Kenyan consumers have increasingly become picky eaters. With reports raising the alarm over the application of toxic pesticides that put consumers’ health at risk, the demand for food grown without chemicals has been increasing.

This has over the years fuelled demand for organic food, leading to the growth of the market from farm-to-homesteads on-order deliveries to fully-fledged retail businesses.

The demand has seen the size of land under organic farming rise to 173,000 hectares, according to Kenya Organic Agriculture Network which was formed to coordinate, facilitate and provide leadership and professional services to all members and other stakeholders in the organic agriculture industry.

Seeing this exponential growth, Mr Mohamed Abubakar sniffed a business opportunity to provide organic fertiliser. The Mombasa resident had for long seen seaweeds washed on beaches go to waste as it decomposes.

He had seen farmers collect the seaweeds for use on their farm for their nutrients. Mr Abubakar decided to do his research into how he could turn the weeds into liquid fertiliser.

It took him nearly three years, of trials and testing before he came up with a refined product which he registered under the name Morganics Liquid Seaweed Fertiliser.

“It has been a long journey. that has consumed approximately Sh60,000 in capital,” he told the Enterprise, adding that he started selling the organic fertiliser six months ago.

The father of seven, makes the products in Ganjoni, Mombasa.

“I produce liquid seaweed foliar fertiliser. It’s 100 percent organic and very effective,” said Abubakar, who grew up in Mombasa.

He harvests the seaweed on Mombasa beaches.

“We use a fermentation process. We harvest the seaweed, clean it to remove sand and other impurities, then ferment it for about 45 days under controlled environment,” he explained, adding that no chemicals are added during the process.

The entrepreneur, who is in the process of acquiring certification from Kenya Bureau of Standards, produces an average of 300 litres of seaweed fertiliser per day.

He currently makes the fertiliser manually, but with demand looking promising, he said he may soon be forced to source funds to mechanise the production.

In the meantime, he said he increases or reduces production depending on the order from clients.

“So far, we have had excellent results on all crops we have field-tested it on. We have seen a great increase in yield. I believe this is the best organic foliar fertiliser we have in the market,” said the entrepreneur.

“So far, I’ve got orders all over the country but it’s mostly through social media and word of mouth. I’ve also done a few farmers training,” said Mr Abubakar.

He sells one litre of the liquid fertiliser at Sh800, and five litres at Sh3,500.

Application of the fertiliser is done by spraying or using a watering can at a ratio of 50: 20 (50ml of fertiliser mixed with 20 litres of water), and applied weekly.

“Out liquid seaweed fertiliser contains macronutrients, micronutrients, trace elements and multiple growth hormones - everything that a plant needs and requires from germination to fruiting,” he explained.

Following the growth of his venture, Mr Abubakar employed five workers.

“We plan to move to a bigger processing plant, increase our production, maintain high quality and come up with more organic farm inputs, to serve farmers and help produce healthy crops,” added the entrepreneur.

He was, however, quick to add that the market is big enough to accommodate everyone.

“We are not out to compete with the big boys. Our aim is to give farmers an effective, low-cost fertiliser with great coverage, and to kick out chemical fertiliser dependency. Our aim is to help produce healthy, chemical free crops,” emphasised the entrepreneur.

He urged farmers who intend to use his products to first soak seeds.

“This will give you better germination percentage, healthy and uniform germination, although Morganics Liquid Seaweed Fertiliser can be used at any stage of plant development throughout the fruiting stage,” he advised, adding that the fertiliser is good for all the crops.