Ibrahim Kamau an environmentalist at Global Green Plants Centre, in Nyeri ,on 5 September, 2023. Kamau has more than three hundreds varieties of species and herbs seedlings. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]

A group of enterprising youth in Nyeri County has transformed their love for herbs and spices into a flourishing business. Ibrahim Karanja , founder of Global Green Plant Centre, pivoted from a tree seedling business to focus on the aromatic world of herbs and spices.

“I noticed a gap when everyone was into tree nurseries, so I decided to be different,” shared Karanja (pictured), whose passion was ignited by the delightful scents of Thyme, Basil, and Oregano.

Currently boasting over 100 varieties of herbs and spices seedlings, Karanja’s business journey began in 2020. After extensive research, he and three others ventured into the world of herbs and spices, facing initial skepticism as some dismissed these valuable plants as mere weeds.

Sourcing plants from Nanyuki, Nakuru, and Nairobi, the team propagates them until maturity, a process taking 45 days. The challenge lies in convincing customers of the herbs’ food and medicinal value. Water availability, requiring daily efforts to water thousands of plants, is another hurdle. 

Despite challenges, Karanja is optimistic. Social media serves as his advertising platform, fostering positive feedback and customer engagement. He actively participates in agricultural exhibitions to educate the public about the benefits of herbs and spices.

Karanja encourages youth to consider agriculture, citing the potential for significant earnings. A single herb plant, which matures in 45 days, can sell for Sh100, and with dedication, a farmer can earn up to Sh10,000 in a day.

His dedication to herbs has not only proven profitable but also inspired others. Samuel Kamau, a flower potter, partnered with Karanja and Kelvin to create decorative pots for herbs. The business, initially slow, gained traction as people embraced the pots for both aesthetics and functionality.

Kelvin Ngunjiri, another member of the group, commends Karanja’s initiative. “I met Karanja when I was hawking clothes, but I admire his work. Since joining him, I’ve been able to cater to my needs through the business, urging other youths to join farming instead of idling.”

Karanja’s knowledge, cultivated over seven years, focuses on the medicinal and nutritional value of herbs. However, Dr. Patrick Mbuthia, a Urologist based in Nyeri, emphasizes caution in the use of herbal medicine. While herbs enhance appetite and have historical medicinal uses, the risks of misusing them, especially when combined with conventional medicine, should not be underestimated.