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Hotels opt for small horticultural growers for their supplies

A farm in Isinya is the latest beneficiary of the growing interest by big hotels in the country to source for their produce from smallholder farmers on the premise of quality and consistency.

This is a departure from the past where the hotels have chosen to work predominantly with large scale suppliers.

Daniel Muiruri the director of Jidan Enterprises has a ten acre farm in Isinya Kitengela dedicated to horticultural farming and is one of the major suppliers of ArtCaffe a leading upmarket hotel in Kenya.

In a relationship that has lasted for over six years Muiruri says he has not only increased the area under cultivation, but added over 50 jobs while boosting his revenue.

Seeing a market opportunity in a notice board in 2009, Muiruri contacted ArtCaffe with a view to supplying the hotel with fresh produce. After receiving a nod Muiruri started small, supplying as little as 10kgs of commodities in a day.

But a growing middle class with an affinity for spending and conscious of their health has seen the hotel expand to cater for more food varieties, moving from just one outlet to five currently, and with the expansion demand for raw materials has equally increased.

Muiruri now supplies among others lettuce, herbs,cabbage,red onion,green pepper and potatoes.

On average he supplies 80kgs of tomatoes,70kgs of tomatoes,200 pieces of lettuce and other produces depending on demand. “Sometimes I cannot even meet the demand because the hotel needs these produces frequently. Market has really expanded for me. I attribute it to the long standing mutually satisfactory way of doing business. While I make every effort to deliver the produce in time knowing how important this is, I also love the way they are very prompt in paying me,”said Muiruri.

But the increased demand has also come with added responsibilities for him. The daily supplies has meant having ready produces daily, and in large quantities. “At the beginning I had a small portion of land under crop cultivation, but with the rising demand it has meant me clearing more land for cultivation and rotating the way I grow crops to ensure constant and seamless supply,”added Muiruri.

It is a venture that has seen him earn more than 200,000 in a month with tomatoes, onions and herbs being his cashcow. He sells a kilo of tomatoes at Sh80, Sh20 more than the major markets.

Having a ready market has insulated him from market vagaries, where a glut has seen farmers sell produces at throw away prices. His greatest achievement however is the many jobs he has created over the years. “Having started with only one car, and less than ten workers, I have grown my business to employ about 50 workers both permanent and casuals since I supply to many outlets like ArtCaffe. This wouldnt be possible if I never found such outlets. I feel as a child of the earth I have done my bit in making the world a better place by contributing in giving incomes to dozens of Kenyans at a time when Kenya is facing the worst unemployment figures in its history,”said Muiruri.

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