Kakuzi’s fourth ESG report charts a course for responsibility

The Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed fruit exporter, Kakuzi PLC, has published its fourth Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) report, maintaining its position as the first agricultural segment counter to do so. The report, themed ‘For People with Purpose,’ highlights how the superfoods grower tracks and measures its ESG impact in the markets where it operates.

Kakuzi PLC Managing Director, Mr Chris Flowers, stated that the company supports environmental sustainability and biodiversity. It continues to identify the environmental impacts of its activities to minimize and mitigate them responsibly.

“We achieve this by complying with all environmental legislation, assessing the main environmental impacts of our business activities, establishing programs to minimize environmental impacts, and providing appropriate training to our employees,” explained Mr Flowers. He added, “Since 2017, we have scientifically tracked and measured our carbon footprint and published this as part of our annual ESG report.”

ESG commitments

The Principal Secretary of the State Department for Environment and Climate Change, Eng. Festus Ng’eno, delivered a speech on his behalf by the Ministry’s Secretary of Administration, Mr John Elungata. Eng. Ng’eno emphasized that the partnership between the government and the private sector for sustainability has immense potential to drive transformative change.

“If we are to achieve a sustainable future, accelerating towards a low carbon world needs people with a purpose, as outlined in the Kakuzi ESG report,” he said. He added, “This report embodies a vision that exceeds financial consideration and brings to bear the fact that businesses can serve as catalysts for positive growth.”

Following the recent signing of the Climate Change Amendment Act 2023, PS Ng’eno urged private sector players, such as Kakuzi, to explore opportunities in the carbon markets. He noted that the government is committed to strengthening partnerships by providing enabling policies and legal and regulatory reforms.

He explained that the carbon market legal framework outlined in the new law will enable the private sector to engage in sustainable community projects, alleviating poverty and achieving meaningful development.

Mr Flowers highlighted Kakuzi’s decision to invest in climate-smart agriculture to mitigate the impact of drought in horticultural and macadamia nut operations. This initiative aligns with President William Ruto’s move to convene African leaders for the Green Industrialisation Initiative. Kakuzi intends to uphold this strategy to increase its areas under precision irrigation while also enhancing its water storage capacity.

Last year, Kakuzi became the first commercial exporter of African-grown avocados to China, shipping nine containers to the Asian country in the maiden consignment. China’s exports totaled 527 avocado fruit containers, weighing about 11.4 million kilograms during the year.

The 2023 State of Corporate ESG, published by the Thomson Reuters Institute, reveals that ESG commitments are no longer driven solely by reporting but are now intricately linked to a business’s financial performance and long-term success. This includes efforts to mitigate economic risks and capitalize on investment opportunities.

In the year under review, Kakuzi also established an Avocado Academy, a center that coaches farmers on how to increase their knowledge base in avocado production. Using social media, the Academy trains farmers in Kenya and other countries who incorporate the critical learnings on their farms to improve their avocado yields.

Read also: How Kakuzi wanted to shut down media from covering transfer pricing probe

Avocado knowledge

The training is conducted through platforms such as YouTube using short topical videos to upskill their avocado knowledge. Farmers are taught best practices that cover topics ranging from seedling and harvest stages to export, using easy-to-digest content. The Academy also utilizes Facebook to send texts, which is instrumental in capacity-building.

For the community around Kakuzi, the superfood grower offered health services, reaching over 549 community members: 258 men and 291 women. The services offered included cervical and prostate cancer screening, HPV vaccine for young girls, COVID-19 vaccination, VCT, and nutritional assessment.

Earlier this year, Kakuzi assumed a new brand identity, underlining a ‘Growing Together’ commitment to its stakeholders and underscoring its commitments to agricultural development for the domestic and export markets.

The new Kakuzi identity, the firm’s first defined brand visual system and strategy in 95 years, defines who Kakuzi is with utmost clarity and pledges to meet the needs of its community, its staff, its customers and business partners, its shareholders, and regulatory and government leaders, among others. The new Kakuzi brand is also aligned with the national agricultural transformation agenda, with sustainability and climate-smart agriculture at its core.

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