Kakuzi’s bold plan to boost shareholder value

Fruit exporter Kakuzi Plc has unveiled an ambitious plan to double both avocado and macadamia production in the next ten years even as the firm embarks on other diversification initiatives to boost shareholder returns.

The plan, which will also see the Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed company expand its Blueberry production project was unveiled during the firm’s 96th AGM where Kes24 dividend was declared for the fiscal year 2023.

Kakuzi’s diversification plans will also see the company turn to AI and AgTech to help revolutionize sustainable farming even as the fruit exporter undertakes to import better-yielding macadamia seed varieties from Hawaii in USA, and Australia.

The firm’s Board chairman Nicholas Ng’ang’a said the agribusiness, which has the vision to be Africa’s leading superfoods producer and exporter, will focus on sustainable crop and animal production to significantly increase shareholder returns.

Kakuzi, Mr Ng’ang’a added, will also explore non-agricultural revenue streams which are in line with its long-term strategies, to help cut the firm’s overreliance on macadamia and avocado crops. Already, Kakuzi’s Blueberry pilot project is showing positive results.

The diversification strategy also features a market expansion programme with enhanced domestic sales and exports to emerging markets India and China over and above the traditional European market.

“Kakuzi PLC has over the last few years laid a solid corporate governance, business growth and return on investment foundation. We are not just a farm, we are now an integrated, sophisticated agribusiness enterprise with a capacity to be a leading player in the international markets,” Mr Ng’ang’a said.

Read also: Kakuzi readies maiden avocado export to India

Diversification of crops

He added, “We must continue to make good decisions to sustain growth with the diversification of crops, developing our markets, both domestically and internationally, and our value-added range being vital pillars of our plans. Still, we must ensure we do this responsibly and responsively to climate action needs.”

“Our planning is and must remain for long-term value rather than short-term returns”. Mr Ng’ang’a emphasized adding that the company has maintained an enviable track record on dividend payments over the last 5 years.

Kakuzi PLC Managing Director Mr Chris Flowers noted that plans are underway to nearly double avocado production and exports from three million four-kilo equivalent cartons to five million over the next ten years.

“This will be achieved by a combination of young orchards coming online and completing the plantings next year, as we also seek to mitigate market and shipping risks by using different varieties that mature during different periods of the year,” Mr Flowers said.

Mr Flowers added that Macadamia production will also be ramped up from 900 tons of kernel to 1,500 tons over the next ten years.

To facilitate sustainable production, Kakuzi, Mr Flowers said, is banking on strategic water harvesting and irrigation to improve yields while introducing new macadamia varieties from Hawaii and maybe, in time, the latest Australian varieties.

In environmental stewardship, Kakuzi is working closely with government and commercial sector players to expand the use of integrated pest management and technology in agriculture to minimise the use of chemicals. As part of the firm’s Agricultural Technology (AgTech) ventures, Mr Flowers singled out investments in Artificial Intelligence systems for crop husbandry and management.

“At Kakuzi, we are clear that artificial intelligence (AI) will undoubtedly have a role to play in our operations, and we plan to invest in AI-linked Ag-tech solutions as part of our commitment to increasing our operating efficiencies,” Mr Flowers said.

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