Company/organization and country: LIMBUA Group Limited, Kenya
Type of project: Research, business implementation, product development
SDG(s) relevant to the project: 2, 12, 13, 15
Topic(s): Industrial innovation, energy efficiency, circular economy, supply chain transparency and traceability, diversity, equity and inclusion, net zero and scope 3 emissions, nature-positive approaches and regenerative agriculture.
Project end date and duration: since 2009 (ongoing)
Abstract: LIMBUA is a German-Kenyan social enterprise, which trades and processes organic macadamias, dried mango, avocado oil and coffee from Kenyan smallholders. We are working closely with more than 7,000 smallholders in the Kenyan highland at the foot of Mount Kenya.
LIMBUA’s approach is comprehensive: One goal is to improve the rural Kenyan population’s standard of living by bringing the smallholders’ harvest to the international market without middlemen, leaving as much added value as possible in the country. Another goal is to protect nature by preventing land degradation, preserving biodiversity and protecting the climate.
In order to reach these goals, LIMBUA covers the supply chain, starting at the tree nursery, via the consulting and supervision of smallholders on their way towards organic certification, the direct purchase from the farmers, the operation of the production sites, all the way to the export and global distribution.
Watch the journey of the fair and sustainable LIMBUA macadamia here.
Nursery: In our proprietary tree nursery, macadamia, mango and avocado seedlings are reared and given to the farmers through the Fair-for-Life fund or sold to them for a fair price. All seedlings are organically certified. For the smallholders to benefit the most, we have developed particularly high-yielding crop varieties for high-quality macadamias in cooperation with leading scientists and based on the farmers’ experience.
Organic farms: The smallholders working with LIMBUA are accompanied by LIMBUA to achieve organic certification and are continuously educated and trained in organic farming. Also, the entire Kenyan LIMBUA team, including management, attends training regularly. On the mixed farms, the smallholders grow a variety of crops, which strengthens the biodiversity. Macadamia trees in particular contribute to healthy ecosystems through their thick leaves, which provide shade and thus protect from evaporation. The roots prevent erosion and bind moisture at the surface. Thanks to an annual precipitation exceeding 1,000 mm in the region south of Mount Kenya, no artificial irrigation is needed. Besides the positive impact on nature, mixed farms provide smallholders with a higher security since they do not depend on just one crop.
Purchase: LIMBUA guarantees to buy the complete annual macadamia harvest from the farmers, paying fair and above-average prices. We use solely digital, calibrated scales, which do not allow any counterfeiting. Our self-developed digital system makes the purchase process faster, easier and safer and enables the smallholders to be paid immediately and securely on site via M-Pesa, an automated mobile payment software, which is commonly used in Kenya. This creates a high degree of transparency and trust.
Production: In order to leave as much added value as possible in Kenya, we process the harvest locally. LIMBUA has established four production sites as well as a nursery in the countryside close to the farms. The proximity results in short transport routes and fresh raw material. In order to use resources responsibly, all parts of the macadamias are used. The outer skin stays on the farms, to be used as a valuable fertilizer. The hard shells are used to heat the ovens, which are part of our self-developed gentle raw food drying process. Furthermore, we use the shells to operate a wood gasifier, which generates additional heat and electricity. In Kenya, LIMBUA employs more than 700 locals, who are mostly members of the farmers’ families. Thus, they are integrated in the value creation and benefit by a demonstrably risen standard of living. The majority of the smallholders and employees are female. LIMBUA supports the self-empowerment of women in all positions and therefore also the prosperity of the families. The pay of our employees exceeds by far minimum wage. Also, they receive contributions to their health, nursing and pension insurance —which is unusual in Africa. This way, LIMBUA counteracts the rural exodus, which often ends in big city slums.
Outcomes: LIMBUA creates great value for the nut and dried fruit industry by offering products, which are not only of the highest quality but have also been traded socially responsible throughout the entire supply chain.
LIMBUA secures the best quality in manifold ways throughout the supply chain: Starting at the farms, LIMBUA purchases only the high-quality macadamia species Integrifolia. Compared to the other common species, Tetraphylla, Integrifolia has a higher oil and a lower sugar content and additionally generates a better yield for the farmers.
Within our production facilities, we secure a gentle raw food drying process by using our specially designed dryers, which are powered by the energy from the macadamia shells. In doing so, the uniform moisture content of the nuts is guaranteed and the risk of mould growth is reduced. Further along in the production process, each macadamia nut is individually cracked with special self-developed nutcrackers and sorted by hand. This guarantees also visually the highest quality. A higher percentage of the macadamia nuts stays as a whole and in addition looks cleaner than nuts that have been cracked by machine.
In order to ensure the greatest possible transparency, LIMBUA has set up a comprehensive traceability system. The core software enables the traceability of the entire supply chain from the farm, via the production site, all the way to the logistics centers in Europe and the United States. As a result, LIMBUA’s customers benefit from a guaranteed 100% traceability back to the individual smallholder and therefore are able to know exactly where the product comes from.
LIMBUA’s high quality and social responsibility is underlined and secured by our certifications, including: the EU organic seal, IFS Food, USDA Organic (NOP), Bio Suisse and Fair-for-Life. Furthermore, LIMBUA reaches a great variety of customer groups since we additionally are Halal and Kosher certified.