In the husky hills of Taita Taveta, a seven-hour drive from Nairobi towards the South, lies a tranquil, little known hidden treasure. It is the processing site of Miyonga Fresh Greens – a woman owned fruit processing company that has successfully partnered with WE4F for more than two years now. In August 2020, the East Africa Hub started a development partnership with the company to support farmers in getting more climate resilient, reduce post-harvest losses and to pilot innovative technologies. This partnership ended in December 2022, but the work will go on.
Let’s take a look back to October 2020: The first activities are being planned and implemented as the global COVID-pandemic reached Sub-Saharan Africa. It is a tough time for most companies, with disrupted supply chains and international shipments stuck due to container shortages. Miyonga is using the time to work on their processing site, that is not yet operational. A 40”- drying container, the centerpiece of the local processing center in Taita Taveta, is eagerly awaited by Miyonga but stuck in South Africa. It would still take a lot of patience until the container finally arrives some months later.
Much has happened since 2020. Despite the global pandemic, Miyonga finished construction on all sites, improved its operations and is now processing delicious, dried fruits for customers in Kenya and Europe. The aggregation site has grown a lot, and also houses a solar-driven mill and cold-storage. Not only have things developed in Taita Taveta, but also in other regions of Kenya, where Miyonga sources its raw products: mango, pineapple, and bananas. In these regions, Miyonga and WE4F had planned and organized trainings on good agricultural practices and conservation farming.
Back again, now to September 2021: A number of trainings on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) are rolled out for cooperatives in Makueni, Taita Taveta, Tana River and Kilifi. It is the height of the pandemic and trainings must adhere to strict rules to guarantee the safety of participants. A maximum of 15 people can gather at once, but the trainings gain traction and are implemented throughout the next 10 months to come.
At the end, a total number of 836 people have been trained in 46 individual trainings on GAP, conservation farming and climate resilience. Miyonga uses this network of farmers to get the raw products it needs for processing. For this, Miyonga piloted two innovative solar-driven technologies. A solar-powered cold storage serves as collection point and helps to conserve the fruit until processing. After the drying process, a solar driven mill grinds the dried fruits into fruit powder- the perfect ingredient for tasty drinks.
Another look back to February 2022: The solar cold storage is finally installed and commissioned, one year after being procured. The shipping from India was delayed for many months as the world went into lockdown.
With all technologies in place, on-site processing could finally begin. Until December 2022, Miyonga processed a total of 7 tons of fruit: 3.3 tons of banana, 0.4 tons of pineapples, 2 tons of coconuts and 1.3 tons of mangoes. For the new year 2023, Miyonga continues its mission to locally produce fruits and reduce post-harvest losses, especially during peak harvesting season when the produce is available in abundance. Miyonga customers have expressed interest to build up a long-term partnership that goes beyond the purchase of dried fruits.
Back in July 2021: Miyonga products are available at Manuyoo, a German-based online store that sells products made in Africa. For Miyonga it is the first time they sell a product in Europe under their own brand.
To meet the growing demand for organic products, WE4F and Miyonga developed a training curricula on organic farming for trainers as well as an internal control system to comply with organic standards. In the year 2023, Miyonga will continue its path to become a certified organic food company, training its farmers on organic farming practices and applying for certification.
More than ever, the focus this year lies on the processing of fruits to fulfill the many orders that Miyonga has received. For the December 2022 to March 2023 mango season, the company has sourced 8 tons of mangoes that are currently being processed, using innovative technologies.
After more than two years of collaboration, the project has come to an end, but the same sustainable development goals remain deeply rooted within Miyonga. The project period was marked by the global pandemic, but also of creative solutions to make the best of it. The development of the company in the short time has been remarkable, and WE4F is convinced that Miyonga will continue to grow and share its positive benefits.
About the author:
Kilian Blumenthal, Advisor in the WE4F East Africa Hub based in Nairobi, Kenya
Kilian holds a B.Sc. in Environmental Engineering of the HAW Hamburg and a M.Sc. in Agricultural Sciences in the Tropics and Subtropics of the University of Hohenheim. His academic research focused on Solar Water Pumping Systems in Bolivia and the Potential Use of Solar Energy in the Maize Value Chain in Benin. He has done numerous trainings on the SPIS Toolbox and gained experience during longer stays in South America and Sub Saharan Africa.