African Agency for Arid Resources Limited (Agar Ltd) is an award-winning Kenyan company dealing in natural resources from the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands of East Africa. Started as a commodities’ agency specializing in the trade of gum Arabic and resins such as Frankincense and Myrrh, we soon started creating value addition and distil the resins into essential oils. Shortly after a retail line followed comprising of 10+ essential oils, aloe-based cosmetics, shea butter and carrier oils under the Essenza by Agar™ brand, now present in 4 countries.
We express strong environmental and social impacts through our work in arid and semi-arid lands: When we collect and process arid lands’ resources such as Frankincense and Sweet Myrrh which are present in Essenza™, we actively diversify income and strengthen the livelihood of pastoralist communities and while doing so we raise awareness and advocate for conservation, bio-diversity and sustainability, being the two resins products of trees. We are also actively involved in reforestation and land regeneration efforts and work closely with local governments in Kenya, NGOs and other stakeholders including the United Nations.
The so called “ASAL – Arid and Semi-Arid Lands” counties of Kenya, covering around the 80% of the national territory, are where AGAR operates.
The inhabitants of these counties are mainly pastoral communities covering vast areas including the Borana, Samburu, Turkana, Somali, Rendille, Gabra, Pokot only to mention a few ethnic groups, yet together they consist of only 10% of the population of Kenya. Poverty index levels are amongst the highest in the country, and so are unemployment.
These areas fall in the “Arid and Semi-Arid” criteria as they receive rainfall between 0-300 mm (dry) and 300 and 600 mm (semi-arid). Because of these characteristics, the agriculture is limited or non-existent; furthermore, frequent droughts have been intensified by climate change.
Yet, Kenya’s Arid and Semi-arid lands are endowed with a rich diversity of plant resources, especially types of Acacias, Boswellias and Commiphoras exuding gum and resins and other resources with commercial value. The region, which depends almost entirely on livestock production, is highly underdeveloped, with poverty levels being among the highest in the country.
Several studies recognized the potential that exists in developing the off take of NTFPs (Non-Timber Forest Products) such as gum and resins, honey, aloe and agave/sisal, honey etc as the right step towards sustainable economic development of these arid and semi-arid lands of Northern Kenya.
Increasing desertification is also an issue, being of the symptomatic problems of climate change, plus the widespread practice of cutting trees to produce charcoal, common to 70% of Kenya and accentuated in areas of interest due to the absence of electricity, and very difficult to regulate. In the ASAL counties income depends almost exclusively on the beef and goat’s meat value chain, a feature linked to the tradition of the pastoralist communities in object, hence these natural resources help communities diversifying their income and be more resilient to drought, which is cyclic.
It is within this context that AGAR operates, focusing its action on the most poverty-stricken areas of Kenya and Uganda, as we work also in Karamoja – the least developed district in Uganda – aiming at creating market access for high potential alternative livelihood and supply clients with high standards products in both bulk and retail.
In pursuing our vision, we also offer professional services: