Coconut Oil from Kenya – SerendiKenya Ltd.
Since 2010, the demand for Fair Trade & Organic (FTO) coconut oil from our Serendipol project in Sri Lanka has skyrocketed. In addition to Dr. Bronner’s growing demand for cosmetic grade coconut oil, a global upswing in the demand for food grade virgin coconut oil (VCO) now challenges Serendipol’s capacity. Thus, we had to explore other locations where an FTO coconut oil project would benefit the local community and ourselves.
We found our source in the existing small Coast Coconut Farms project south of Mombasa on the Kenyan coast. Started by the U.S.-based charity Asante Foundation, the project is now owned and operated by our sister company SerendiKenya Ltd. Our staff has so far recruited some 800 smallholder coconut farmers and converted them to organic practices. At the same time, we are expanding and modernizing our modest production facility. As with Serendipol, this will involve the hands-on support of friends, including technicians, architects, oil millers and farmers from the U.S. and EU.
While the project is still in its infancy, we have already become an important local employer — providing working conditions uncommon in other local agricultural industries, including wages above prevailing levels, health insurance, workplace safety and respectful cooperation. Several professionals, motivated by the promise of rural development through Fair Trade, have joined SerendiKenya in management, agricultural services, operations and accounting. Through higher prices for coconuts and prompt payments, we also support the renewed interest among coconut farmers who in the past could not find reliable, well-paying customers for their products.
Supporting farmers by helping them improve their lands through the use of mulching and compost will be a primary focus, just as with all other Serendiworld projects. A re-planting program utilizing higher-yield coconut palms will further help farmers revitalize their orchards, the majority of which have over-aged trees. In our expansion, SerendiKenya receives much technical support from our sister company Serendipol and coconut farmers in Sri Lanka. This is a great example of how our network of companies achieves synergies through personal contact usually available only to large, vertically integrated international corporations.
SerendiKenya has quickly become an important player in the Kenyan Coconut Development Authority’s plan to redevelop the domestic coconut industry — an industry with much promise for local smallholders, workers and communities.
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