Because of its warm and wet climate, Kenya is a major producer of fruits and vegetables. However, pests such as caterpillars and the damaging diamondback moth represent a significant threat to the development of the country’s agricultural sector. Not only can the presence of larvae reduce agricultural yields; the widespread use of harmful pesticides is also significantly limiting exports to the European Union and other strictly regulated markets.
One of the companies supported by the Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC), Kenya Biologics has identified in this critical challenge a unique market opportunity. Marketing and Sales Director Chris Kolenberg developed an effective and completely natural pest-control product that is also in compliance with European market regulations. Showing a small bottle containing a white liquid, Mr. Kolenberg explained: “it’s a virus that once sprayed on plants paralyzes caterpillars and other pests that can destroy tomatoes, beans, cotton, and all the most common types of crops in Kenya.”
Since this natural solution is more expensive than other toxic alternatives, the adoption of the product is still very slow among small farmers, whose produce is mainly sold in the domestic market. In order to target this particular group of clients, the company has developed another green product, the “moth trap.” This ingenious battery-powered cage releases female moth pheromones that can immediately attract male moths. Once inside, the pests are caught on a sticky surface and trapped. “We show this [product] to large and small farmers,” said Mr. Kolenberg. “They are immediately convinced as our trap attracts lots of moths from the very moment we put it in the field.”
Mr. Kolenberg’s company started in 2008 thanks to a grant from the African Enterprise Challenge Fund. Since then, with the support of the KCIC, Kenya Biologics has grown in the national market and it already employs over 15 people. Looking ahead, the center will continue to support Mr. Kolenberg’s company by helping with financial management and by facilitating partnerships with large distributors.
Pictured above: Marketing and Sales Director Chris Kolenberg