Kimondo builds seed oils empire
Lifestyle diseases have become a nightmare to many people who are battling with far-reaching complications and many families strained with hospital bills.
Medication costs add up to patients’ woes but an entrepreneur based in Mweiga in Nyeri county could be an answered prayer to people suffering from heart diseases, arthritis, diabetes, lungs complications, respiratory problems among others.
David Kimondo, 65, extracts oils from various seeds including black seeds, pumpkin, chia, flax, castor, and canola and sell them in different parts of the country.
When we caught up with him at his home-based factory in Mweiga he had just finished crushing tiny pumpkin seeds and later filtered the oil before packing it tanks adding to the other two 300 litres in the stores.
He uses an electric machine to crush the seeds and separate openings letting out the paste and the oil. Studies show that oils produced from seeds may have many health and cosmetic benefits and Kimondo who has been in the business for over 10 years resolved to help his countrymen using seeds.
“Many people are suffering from diseases than can be treated by using seeds. We have abandoned our herbs and these diseases have strained economic status of many families,” he said.
He argued that traditionally, consuming seeds was associated with poverty and people threw away seeds not knowing they are getting rid of what they may need most. Kimondo started off with canola over 10 years ago after thorough research on seed oils. Several unsuccessful attempts to extract and purify oils have earned him fame and made him a sought-after seed oils seller.
“I cannot satisfy the demand of the oils because we get orders from far as Kisumu, Mombasa, Kakamega, Nairobi, among others. People have appreciated the importance of herbs in healthy living,” said Kimondo.
In his stores, he has packed oils in 100 ml, 250 ml and in litres as his clients’ orders depend on their need’s intensity. Pumpkin oil is rich in zinc, Vitamin C, oxygen and it is known for its magic to boosts men’s sexual function.
Kimondo has discovered that pumpkin seeds are tiny but they pack a big punch as the oil cures many diseases and restores immunity. Pumpkin seed is also a great source of magnesium, iron, and fiber and it is highly demanded due to its incredible health benefits.
“Many families have disintegrated because some men have low libido. It is also able to treat hormonal imbalances,” he noted.
A litre of pumpkin oils sells at Sh4,000 and Kimondo says he buys a kilo of the seeds at Sh270 from farmers. In a month he said he extracts about 3,000 litres. In effort to help in completing the value chain in his venture Kimondo has contracted over 1000 farmers who supply him with seeds. He has managed to grasp any opportunity to educate farmers on the benefits of planting the crops and supply him with seeds.
“I have contracted farmers from Machakos, Kitui, Nyeri and other counties to supply the seeds. I cannot be in the farm, extract and again look for a market for the oils,” he added.
Kimondo has also taken advantage of Agricultural Shows held in counties and any agricultural training center where he showcases the seeds to educate people on their benefits and also to encourage farmers to plant the crops that would earn them a good living.
“I have to keep educating the farmers because I cannot do the planting and the extracting. I need a consistent supply of seeds because the demand for all these products grows day by day,” said the entrepreneur.
Black and chia seeds are said to cure many diseases and Kimondo has capitalised on the inadequacy of people producing the oils. Clients scramble for his oils, which are rare as Kenya does not have the culture of farming the plants.
Black seed is old as the world is and it is known for its therapeutic medical benefits. Its byproduct can be used as livestock fodder.
Research shows that black seed oil contains thymoquinone, which is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound that may also have tumor-reducing properties.
The entrepreneur said his clients' suffering diabetes, hypertension, asthma, diabetes, and obesity have attested to immunity improvement after consuming seed oils.
“Black seed also helps in embalming the skin conditions, hair growth, weight loss, and its demand is very high. We used to import the seeds from Ethiopia and we are encouraging people to plant Nigella sativa. Because there is a ready market for the seeds,” he mentioned.
The oil is also said to have its ability to reduce viral loads among patients suffering viral diseases, and cancer. Other oils produced include canola, chia, castor, flaxseed oil and fenugreek.
Canola vegetable oil is commonly used for its richness in Omega 3 and 6 that helps in improving heart health. Some people apply the oil on the skin to reduce skin problems such as pimples, acne, aging among others.
Kimondo said he mostly use research projects published by universities for new ideas adding that he has been able to penetrate into some supermarkets in the country besides setting up outlets in various towns.
“We have abandoned our herbs and adopted the western culture. Lifestyle diseases have now become a common challenge in this country. I get motivated when a client comes back to thank me after they get healed and their immunity restored,” said Kimondo.
Kimondo noted that the rarity of the highly demanded oils has seen their prices go high saying that Flax seeds oil goes for Sh4000 same as chia seeds oil. Black seeds oil goes for Sh3000.
The quantities of oils extracted depend on the amount and weight of the seeds.
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