The organic industry in Kenya had been in existance before KOAN. However, it lacked a clear direction in which it was going and many producers were claiming to be organic without sometimes even knowing what they were reffering to. It is in this climate that KOAN was formed with the mission: To coordinate, facilitate and provide leadership and professional services to all members and other stakeholders in the organic agriculture industry in Kenya.
KOAN works hard to achieve this mission by carrying out activities that are aimed at unifying the Kenyan industry, thus protecting both the industry itself and the consumers.
KOAN works hard hoping to see an organic industry that meets its vision: A vibrant organic agriculture industry that contributes to a healthy environment, livelihood security and responsive to a growing consumer market.
The conditions in which KOAN works are not as developed as those of the western world and this serves as an advantage in that we can apply the lessons learnt from the well developed industry in the west. It also serves as a disadvantage because local consumers and growers both lack information about both Organic and non-Organically produced foods. With our vision close in mind we endeavour to carry out our duties, knowing that the day is coming when Kenyan organic produce will have a solid place within the Kenyan and indeed international homes.
KOAN intends to meet both its mission and vision. To this it has set itself the target of develping competencies, skills and strategies in the following areas of the Organic Industry:
- Marketing - We intend to boost the motivation of Organic producers by helping them find markets for their produce both locally and internationally.
- Certification and standards - We need to constantly improve the standards of Kenyan organic produce along with those of the world if we are to compete, we therefore work to improve standards and get out producers properly certified.
- Training - We know that despite our producers best will, without proper training they will never be able to meet the Organic Standards. We therefore offer training to our producers and those interested in changing over from non-Organic to Organic productions.
- Extension and information exchange - After establishing markets for our producers and ensuring that they are producing according to global organic standards, we then ensure that they keep abreast with all the latest information so as to keep building on the advancements they have already made.
- Networking - We create activites that allow Kenyan Organic producers to meet potential customers both locally in Kenya and abroad. At these events producers get to know each other and know what they all are doing organically speaking. These networking opportunities have opened many doors and will yet open many more for Kenyan Organic producers.
- Policy and advocacy - Naturally, Organic producers in Kenya have worries and concerns about the future of their activities in a world where non-organic products have big budgets to fund both advertising and lobby & advocacy groups. KOAN takes on this battle as well for Kenya's organic producers. We have successfully taken on the elements that in the past have tried to complicate issues and make life difficult for Organic producers. We hope we can continue to do this in the future.
- Production - Although our producers are Organic, there are all sorts of advvancements being made everyday, both locally and and internationally, we endeavour to share this information with Kenyan Organic producers so that they too can reap the benefits of these advancements.
Who is involved?
KOAN is membership organization with members across the country and unites producers, exporters, traders, NGOs and other like minded individuals and organizations in promoting Organic Agriculture in Kenya. The organization represents over 35,000 farmers and works with partner organizations throughout the country.