Development of organic markets in Kenya can be traced back to 1998/1999 when Kenya Institute of Organic Farming (KIOF) and Association for Better Land Husbandry (ABLH) started organic marketing initiatives. In 1998 KIOF started a basket scheme and had an agreement with one of green grocers in up-market Nairobi to be distributing the baskets on its behalf. The basket scheme failed due to logistical problems. This basket scheme has lately been revived and is doing quite well.
Through a company named Farmers Own, ABLH started marketing of organic produce from smallholder farmers. The organization also initiated ecological labeling. This initiative has not been able to take root and has not achieved formal organic certification orientation.
Corner shop, a green grocer situated at upmarket Yaya centre started an organic corner in 2000. This organic section has been experiencing supply consistency problems and a limitation of variety. Other initiatives include a Farmers Market in The Village market which was organized monthly by Green Dreams limited, a partnership had been established between Green Dreams Ltd and Fresh N’ Juicy the main supplier of fresh fruits and vegetables in Nakumatt supermarket. This relationship however failed. Su Kahumbu of green dreams limited had started an organic corner under fresh n’ juicy in one of Nakumatt stores (Village market). The initiative failed due to lack of supplies. KOAN began offering organic market services to the rural smallholder organic farmers, from the farm gate to the market.
Currently, the number of trained farmers on organic farming has reached a conservative estimate of 30,000 with more and more requests of training coming from all over the country. Many NGO’s and CBO’s have been initiated to train farmers on organic agriculture as a sustainable way of farming which encourage the use of resources within the farm.
There has been a push from KOAN for a paradigm shift for organic agriculture to move from having a kitchen gardening and food security approach to one that is market orientated. On its formation and being handed the mandate of spearheading the development of organic agriculture in the country, one of KOAN’s major role was to facilitate the development of the organic market in the country. Through its National Market Development desk KOAN undertakes market development activities with an aim of building the consumer base of organic products. These activities include: