Home Business I have 1,000 seed farmers oiling my path to success : The Standard

I have 1,000 seed farmers oiling my path to success : The Standard

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David Kimondo of Kieni Canola & Food inside the retail outlet in Mweiga town within Kieni constituency, Nyeri County. June 24, 2019. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

Lifestyle diseases have become a nightmare. Millions of people are living with chronic complications, and families are groaning under the weight of hospital bills.

David Kimondo, 65, wanted to do something to help. He came up with a line of products that he believes can ease the suffering for people living with heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and respiratory problems, among other issues.
David extracts oils from various seeds, including pumpkin, chia, flax, castor bean and canola at his home-based factory in Mweiga, Nyeri County.
When Hustle caught up with him, he’d just finished crushing a batch of pumpkin seeds and filtered the oil produced in tanks, adding to the two 300-litre batches he had in store.

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“I’ve been in this business for 10 years now, and I want to help my fellow citizens by making use of the nutritional benefits of seeds,” says David.
Health benefits
He uses an electric machine to crush the seeds and then separates and packs the oil produced.
Oils produced from seeds have been found to have many health and cosmetic benefits.
“Many people are suffering from diseases than can treated by using seeds. We’ve abandoned our herbs and these diseases have strained the economic status of many families,” says David.

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He adds that consuming seeds was traditionally associated with poverty, which meant most people threw them away.
David did his research and was sold on the value of these tiny pips. He started out working on his idea with canola seeds and registered his business, Kieni Canola & Food Industries.
After several unsuccessful attempts to extract and purify canola oil, he finally found a system that works, and added more and more seeds.

David Kimondo of Kieni Canola & Food Industries range calibrates a processing machine at the plant in Mweiga town within Kieni constituency, Nyeri County, June 24, 2019. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

David says he mostly uses research published by universities to get new ideas for his business. And soon enough, word about his products spread.
“I cannot satisfy the demand for the oils. We get orders from far as away as Kisumu, Mombasa, Kakamega and Nairobi. People have come to appreciate the importance of herbs for healthy living,” says David.
He packs his oils in packs starting at 100ml. One of the most popular products is pumpkin oil, which is rich in vitamin C and zinc.
“Pumpkin seeds are tiny but they pack a big punch as the oil helps manage many diseases, builds immunity, boosts libido and deals with hormonal imbalances. The seeds are also a great source of magnesium, iron and fibre. These incredible health benefits have increased the demand for its oil.”
David sells a litre of pumpkin oil at Sh4,000. He buys a kilo of seeds at Sh270 from farmers. In a month, he extracts about 3,000 litres of pumpkin oil.
From humble beginnings, David has built a value chain that now contracts more than 1,000 farmers who supply him with seeds.
He also holds training sessions to educate farmers on the benefits of planting seed crops.
“I work with farmers from Machakos, Kitui, Nyeri and other counties to supply the seeds. I can’t grow the crops, harvest the seeds, extract oil and still look for the market.”
David also participates at agricultural shows in various counties to recruit suppliers and customers.
“I have to keep educating the farmers because I need a consistent supply of seeds. The demand for these products grows day by day.”

David Kimondo the owner of Canola Oil Industry, at his premises in Mweiga Nyeri County sampling his products on July 8 2015. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]

Antioxidant properties
Black and chia seeds are also said to help with the management of many diseases. However, there aren’t many local entrepreneurs working with them, something David has capitalised on.
“My clients scramble for my oils because of the benefits they have and because they’re rare since Kenya doesn’t have a culture of growing these sorts of crops.”
For instance, black seeds, also known as black cumin, have been used for thousands of years for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. And once oil has been extracted from them, their by-product can be used as livestock fodder.
Black seed oil contains thymoquinone, which has been found to have tumor-reducing properties.
“Black seed also helps with skin conditions, boosts hair growth and helps with weight loss. We used to import the seeds from Ethiopia, but are now encouraging people to plant Nigella sativa because there’s a ready market for the seeds,” David says.
Other oils David produces include canola, chia, castor, flax seed and fenugreek oils.
Canola oil is popular for its Omega 3 and 6, which help improve heart health. It can also be applied on skin to help with problems like acne, pimples and to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
David says his clients who suffer from diabetes, hypertension, asthma, diabetes or obesity have reported improvement after consuming seed oils.
And with this popularity, he’s been able to get his products into supermarkets and set up outlets in various towns.
“We have abandoned our herbs and adopted the Western culture. Lifestyle diseases have now become a common challenge in this country. I get motivated when a client comes back to thank me after they get better and their immunity restored,” says David.
During this interview, he received orders from three clients, with one inquiring if they could get canola and chia oils delivered to Kakamega.
David says the rarity of highly demanded oils has seen their prices increase, with flax seed oil going for Sh4,000 a litre, just like for chia seed oil, while black seed oil costs Sh3,000.  
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Lifestyle diseasesEntrepreneurshipJobsHealthSeed oil

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