The Pyrethrum Directorate has kicked off decontrol of the tightly regulated sub-sector by licensing Africhem Botanical to produce, process and export the crop.
In a gazette notice dated July 28, the firm was allowed to set up a processing plant in Muran’ga in the next one year.
Head of the directorate Andrew Osodo said Africhem Botanical was one of the four companies that applied for a licence to process pyrethrum after the government invited private players to inject new capital to revive the ailing sector.
“Notice is hereby given pursuant to the Crops Act, Agriculture and Food Authority proposes to give a licence to Africhem Botanical for production, processing and exporting of pyrethrum,” reads the notice.
Mr Osodo said plans to licence three more firms were at an advanced stage and will be conclude before the end of the year.
The three are Chinese firm Senju Development Company, which is setting base in Uasin Gishu County, Highchem East Africa, and Orion which are seeking permission to process the crop.
One of the requirements for a processing certificate is prove of availability of 300 acres of land for development of the crop. They must also contract 300 farmers to ensure consistency in production once the factory starts operations.
This is the government’s latest attempt to revive the industry which produces about 300 tonnes of pyrethrum extracts down from 20,000 in the 1970s.
Kenya was a major producer of the crop in the world, accounting for 70 per cent of the total demand.
Most of the pyrethrum produced is meant for export with the local market consuming less than two per cent.
Statistics from the directorate indicate that volumes of pyrethrum flowers supplied to a Nakuru-based processor dropped from 390 tonnes in 2014 to 290 tonnes last year with projections for 2017 expected to dip further.
In 2014, pyrethrum exports earned the country Sh200 million. In 2015 the country earned Sh207 million from the crop and Sh120 million last year.