By Jackline Mariga
An innovator in Laikipia County has discovered that miraa can produce an energy drink. According to Eric Githinji one of the directors in Mbaachu Productions, khat juice is a natural juice and healthy. Despite the covid effects, this did not hinder these innovators from coming up with such a great idea.
The process The first important thing is purchasing the miraa which they have a specific brand that
they prefer which is either GIZA or Allel. Miraa is a cash crop commonly found in the neighbouring Meru County that provides the source of raw material. The second phase is squeezing the juice using a juicer. According to Mr Githinji, 1kg of miraa produces about 10 litres of energy drink. Currently, 1kg of miraa costs Ksh.500
but the price varies on season. During the rainy season, the cost of miraa goes down compared to dry seasons, which provides the best time for acquiring this vital product. After squeezing they later add some water up
to the right concentration and lime juice for sweetening the product. To ensure that their
product is purely natural, the team uses citric acid as a preservative. Production is on a daily
basis and sometimes on order.“The juice is sweet when it’s fresh that is why we avoid producing large quantities and refrigerating them,” said Githinji. “We also work on orders of other by-products of miraa known as Muguka,” he added.
The final phase is packaging and marketing. The Mbachu package their juice in a 500 ml plastic bottle which cost ksh.300. They have an outlet at the Cedar Mall in Nanyuki town where they sell their products from. They not only produce the khat juice but are expanding their ideas and now they are manufacturing wine from pineapples.
The Support of the County Government of Laikipia has been of great help to small business enterprises.
The county government offers business stimulus at a low percentage of 7, after catering for the 5 per cent. Mbachu Producers are enjoying the network they created after exhibiting their products
during the Kenya Industrial week held in Laikipia last year.
“We created a great network and a good number of customers from that time. It was then that we were able to meet the KEBS through the help of Governor NdirituMuriithi,” Githinji said.
He added that after the exhibition on one day one they received an order of more than 300
bottles of the Khat juice. According to Githinji, people think manufacturing can only take place when you have big machinery. To the surprise of many, their manufacturing has a small size squeezer and
fermenters. He urges the people and especially the youth to start small with implementing their ideas and definitely, they will grow.
Like any other business, these innovators have encountered a number of difficulties the main
one being the KEBs standards. They lament that to date KEBS does not have active standards on the khat quality that are to be used. The innovators are hopeful that our country will put into place such measures.