BY DAVID WANJALA
Dedicated to maintain its leading position in the region and provide top of the range plantation management services, Africa Plantation Capital (APC)’s team continued the great work during 2019. The hard work and amazing progress was once more rewarded with the recognition – Best Agribusiness Company of the Year 2019, the fourth time in a row, by the business community and KNCCi during the latter’s business excellence awards in Mombasa early December.
APC’s East Africa operations are supported by a great team of 150+ well trained and skilled staff covering all sections of its operations together with over 200 casual workers who give their best on a daily basis to provide top of the range plantation management services and to make the Group’s plans to become reality.
The company has been operating in East Africa since October 2015. Today it is managing over 800 private plantations, two arboretums, six nurseries, two processing units and five offices in Kenya and Uganda. The ingredients of its amazing growth and success are simple. Without any doubt Kenya was the ideal location to start and the best crop to grow was Bamboo. Bamboo is a highly renewable resource with properties similar to that of timber, supporting green economic development, and thereby contributing to major national development goals such as Vision 2030.
Despite several challenges, APC has accomplished an impressive course in a very short time thanks to the correct planning, the right people and partnerships according to the Mr Kelvin Kaloki, managing director.
“Our power is our human resources. Around the world the group has over 2000 members of staff but we did not have to use them for our East Africa operations. Kenya offers some of the best brains and best human resources a company may need. From simple workers to highly educated and experienced scientists, a company can find the right people to create a successful operation. Our human resources are 100% from East Africa”.
Agroforestry in East Africa is full of opportunities and Africa Plantation Capital Team is here to establish a brand name while creating a strong network and stemming out challenges currently faced by the global timber and biomass industries. Initially targeting to produce biomass for fibre, Africa Plantation Capital is now expanding its horizons and exploits other sectors such as bamboo tea, bicycles, bamboo charcoal, the paper industry and energy sector. Its first bamboo processing facility is now ready and will start production the first quarter of 2020.
This new expansion is to facilitate the group’s major investment into a forestry plantation sector that could be crucial in meeting the challenges currently faced by the global timber and biomass industries, as well as driving the quest for sustainable manufacturing and energy solutions.
The success of APC Group around the world is based on its business model. In order to increase uptake of sustainable manufacturing solutions, and create a lucrative value chain, APC has introduced a vertical production line where the company does everything from land acquisition, seedling propagation, land preparation, plantation management all the way to harvesting, processing, marketing and sales for the final product.
“We prefer to grow a crop that gives us the option of diversified end products that can target different markets. Bamboo for example has several uses from flooring to food, construction, activated carbon, biofuel up to fibre for the textile industry,” said Mr. Kaloki during the KNCCi Business awards.
“We are also getting ready to set up the required processing facilities. International brands such as Bootex, Boorider and ecotech are creating a demand for our bamboo products. The group is ready to manage the biomass produced in Kenya and bring it to the rest of the world via its international sales network,” added APC’s MD.
Another key factor for successful agroforestry projects according to the Mr Kaloki, is the size. Large-scale agriculture and forestry projects anywhere in the world, he says, are usually successful.
“But the size alone will not guarantee any returns. In order to make money out of a big project you need to work hard and plan a lot. A primary factor that needs to be considered is the risk involved. When starting, you have to see what the real expectations are. Short cuts are not the way to go. The investor has to be ready to spend in order to collect. A largescale project provides you the benefits of the economy of scales and makes possible the creation of an integrated value chain.”
Africa Plantation Capital is also ISO 9001/2015 certified by Bureau Veritas under international UKAS standards for Quality Plantation Management. The company has severally been awarded in Asia and Europe, but winning an award from the KNCCi every year since they started has an extra value for them. It is the confirmation that all their efforts have a positive result. As such, they are determined to continue towards a very successful venture, expand more, create jobs and a better environment.