Listed agri-business firm Kakuzi Plc has announced the release of its third Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) report.
With the report’s release, the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) listed superfoods grower now becomes the first Agricultural segment counter on the local bourse to voluntarily release its ESG report this year.
ESG is a framework upon which companies develop and deploy their sustainability initiatives, including identifying, assessing and managing risks that emanate from social and environmental issues affecting their entire value and supply chains.
Speaking at the release of the Kakuzi ESG Report 2021, aptly themed: Growing Communities, Responsible Value Chains, Kakuzi PLC Managing Director Mr Chris Flowers said the firm consistently tracks and measures its ESG impacts.
“Acutely aware that corporates can and do face challenges, some of which impact the society we operate within and our environment, this ESG report details how we are identifying and managing those,” Mr Flowers said. He acknowledged that: “at Kakuzi, we will continue doing the right thing and correcting our course where we need to. By tracking and publicly reporting our ESG touchpoints and other key social indicators, we are demonstrating our commitment to remain a responsible corporate citizen of Kenya. It is the right thing to do.”
At the event presided over by NSE Board Chairman Kiprono Kittony, assisted by NSE CEO Geoffrey Odundo, the Kakuzi team leader cited Kakuzi as one of the first Companies in the region to put in place an Operational Grievance Mechanism (OGM) The Company has also put in place an Independent Human Rights Advisory Committee (IHRAC) chaired by former Attorney General Prof Githu Muigai, to ensure proper handling of Human Rights related issues. Kakuzi’s IHRAC is benchmarked against the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) global standards for preventing and addressing human rights abuses by businesses and companies.
Alongside IHRAC, Kakuzi, he said, has also operationalized the first independent operational-level grievance mechanism dubbed “SIKIKA”, headed by Justice (Rtd) Violet Mavisi. “At Kakuzi, we believe in reaching the highest standards and do not shy away from the challenges in trying to achieve this, even when faced with headwinds,” Mr Flowers said.
While confirming Kakuzi’s support for the national tree planting campaign aimed at attaining a minimum of 30 per cent forest cover by 2032, the Company, he pledged, will continue to play its part. “We are complementing tree planting with other ‘climate smart practices’, such as how we cook our Food. At Kakuzi we have invested considerable resources in our Jiko Kisasa project. Now over 600 families in our surrounding communities are cooking on these energy efficient stoves, reducing their demand for wood by at least 30%, ” Mr Flowers said.
As part of the firm’s corporate citizenship endeavors’, Kakuzi has continued to be involved in many community projects including economic empowerment, health, education, clean water and sanitation, environment conservation, and climate action.
In 2021, Kakuzi provided more than 2,500 pupils in 28 learning institutions with classroom furniture. The Company also constructed sanitation facilities for use by over 6,000 pupils. During the year, the rehabilitation of Kakuzi Primary School was a major project giving the school a significant facelift aimed at improving the quality of education at the school.
On economic empowerment and corporate social investment initiatives under the model of local partnerships, Kakuzi continues to make avocado seedlings available to community members.
In 2021, farmers sourced over 29,000 quality Hass avocado seedlings from Kakuzi. Kakuzi PLC continues to empowers the communities with knowledge and skills on avocado production and offers free maturity testing for smallholder farmers with a view to addressing quality concerns and improving farmers’ income.
The Kakuzi Avocado Smallholder program has 3500 registered farmers. During the reporting period, Farmers enjoyed a total payment of KSh57.9 million and access to the growing international market.
Additionally, the firm got involved in other initiatives like the beekeeping programme which donated bee hives and conducted training to several self-help groups as part of support to diversify the community’s income.
“As part of enumerating the impacts of the company, supply chain sustainability was pivoted to promote human rights, fair labor practices, environmental progress, and corporate governance. The COVID-19 pandemic was also highlighted, including the obvious dangers the business had to overcome within the supply and value chains. To make resilience, agility, and sustainability a reality, Kakuzi was able to mainstream transparency in how we conduct our business to protect Human Rights across the different divisions of the Company,” said Mr. Flowers.
“One of our major highlights during the year was the journey to access the China market. The China fruit market is very advanced as far as the consumption of agricultural commodities including superfoods such as avocado is concerned. The regulatory entry process was stringent, and the consumers are incredibly discerning and quality conscious. However, we were up to the task and committed to maintaining the Kakuzi quality consistency for all our exports to China, among other markets. I am hopeful that this will work to reveal just how responsible value chains can grow communities.” Mr. Flowers said.