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Starke ayres Launches its Seed Range in the Kenyan Supermarkets


STARKE AYRES, a South African vegetable seed company has appointed Pannar Seed Kenya Ltd, as its exclusive distribution agent to avail quality and certified seeds in innovative small retail packs to the one stop retail shops spread throughout Kenya as well as the entire East Africa region and also to establish a strong retail seed distribution brand.

Kitchen gardening among the middle class and the bourgeoisie residing in Kenya's towns and cities is a flourishing phenomenon.However, according to Henry Wanjala, Sales and Marketing Manager Pannar Seed Kenya Ltd, most of these people are not able to access seeds in the most convenient locales where they shop.

It is on this rationale that Pannar Seed Kenya Ltd has been appointed as the distributor for Starke Ayres hybrid seeds. Starke Ayres itself is a South African based company that has been working with Nakumatt, Uchumi, Naivas and Chandarana; some of Kenya's top, one
stop chain stores for the past 4 years.They have brought quality, certified hybrid vegetables, herbs and lawn grass seed varieties closer to the Kenyans.

Previously, seed stores were located in less strategic areas and not easily accessible, furthermore the bulk packaging was not ideal. Consumers prefer an 'all under one roof ' experience when shopping. Pannar Seed Kenya and Starke Ayres have therefore launched; creative small-size retail special packs of 1-10gms suitable for customers involved in kitchen gardening in urban and periurban areas.

The demand for small seed packages is growing exponentially noted Dharmesh Roopsingh, Retail-Sales Director Starke Ayres. He added that there is a booming growth within shopping malls in Kenya, which is creating awareness for the need for fresh vegetables and herb kitchen gardens, as well as lawn grasses for aesthetic landscaping of their modern houses. Kitchen gardening is a thriving trend in Kenya. "People want to grow their own vegetables for healthy eating purposes", noted Henry. Constant buying of vegetables from supermarkets is very expensive and many people are turning to producing their own to cut budgets.

Some middle class Kenyans are using kitchen gardens for subsistence and to anextent commercial purpose, supported Wanjala. Additionally, uptake of herbs-with medicinal and
aromatic value-is also on the rise. "We have been able to capture the Kenyan market because of the convergence of these market forces. In Nakumatt alone, the retail store, controlling 80% of this business, we are selling between 15, 000-20, 000 packets a month", Wanjala said. This is an indication that many middle class people frequenting supermarkets have a need for seeds. It is not the tradition of supermarkets to stock seeds, however, Starke Ayres and Pannar seed are breaking this limitation.

Riquey da Costa, Retail Sales Manager- Africa is in agreement with his colleagues regarding the Kenyan market. He said that Kenya is the second fundamental market for them after Zimbabwe as it has a well developed retail chain store system. As a result of this, the South African Hybrid seed company sells more seed packets in Kenya than Nigeria, a country bigger than Kenya, and the most populous in Africa. Pannar eedestablished in Greytown South Africa in 1958- is currently in 6 African countries: Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya and Tanzania.

Before Pannar Seed and Starke Ayres were sisters, but Pannar was sold and the two have retained good working relationships. Pannar Seed Kenya Ltd is a registered seed merchant, a member of Seed Trade Association of Kenya (STAK); the Managing
Director of Pannar Kenya, Macleod Nkhoma is the Vice Chairman of STAK.

Since being founded in Kenya 13 years ago, Pannar works closely with other stakeholders in the seed industry and the entire agricultural sector to develop new hybrid seeds of the highest quality suited for the Kenyan market. Da Costa and Roopsingh believe that quality is the major driving force for their hybrid seed company. Starke Ayres adheres to the uality standards set by KEPHIS for seed developers and attempts even to go a level higher.

Starke Ayres seeds are stronger, disease resistant, easier to sell and grow. "Our seeds are seeds of success, at Starke Ayres we live by this slogan. Our laboratories are all ISO certified and we use the highest technology to develop our seeds, such that when a customer buys our seeds, he or she buys a packet full of technology" Roopsingh asserted.

Starke Ayres seeds developed for Kenya market are tried and tested and grow well within the latitude."During the 2013 Nairobi ASK Show customers saw, felt and tasted the success of our hybrid seeds, they bought everything we had at the stand, the demand was overwhelming and we could not on the day meet all the sales orders placed by the customers who came to our stand", Roopsingh noted.

In addition to selling seeds, the company offers technical advice to farmers. For instance at the show aforementioned, Starke Ayres had experienced agriculturalists who advised customers on how to grow and take care of the seeds they bought.

Life span of the seeds sold at the supermarkets is extended to ensure that the seeds do
not germinate on the shelves. Sales representatives are tasked to make sure that Starke
Ayres shelves in the supermarkets are well organized, cleaned and positioned at strategic places within the retail stores."Our seeds are packaged in good and attractive packages. On the packages we offer a pictorial guide with information in English, Portuguese, French and Arabic, on the best agronomy practices for a certain seed.

"Seeds are freshly packaged for a season with a validity period of up to two years, bears
a lot number from KEPHIS as a mark of quality and the expiry date is indicated as well", said Wanjala who is tasked to oversee Starke Ayres supermarket seed distribution in Kenya. Wanjala, Roopsingh and Hortfresh crew visited Thika Road Mall and were able to
see a Starke Ayres rotating stand for easy display and hanging of seed packets placed
in a tactical place near the high moving electrical gadgets and food stuffs.

The business has been good and even attracting people with relatively big plots within the peri-urban areas. For instance some people in Karen and Runda want packages of 50-500gm. Thus it is cumbersome and a little bit expensive to buy these quantities in packs of 10 gms. As a result Starke Ayres supplies a variety pack sizes to accommodate all growers.


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