Nelson Kariuki

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2011
Community Empowerment through Natural Resources, Agricultural Resources and Technology (CENART,CONSORT)


This profile was prepared when Nelson Kariuki was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2011.
The New Idea
Creating a policy framework for the roll out of an industry, in this case organic fertilizer, is no mean feat. Nelson had to patiently pull together different stakeholders including scientists, researchers, politicians, the international community, and academics who are all in some way custodians of how agriculture works in Kenya. He took this group through the process of understanding organic fertilizer and its environmental, social, and economic benefits to Kenya at a time when there was no formal definition or country standard for organic fertilizer. After ten years of this process, Nelson has succeeded in having a standard and regulatory framework for the production of organic fertilizer established in Kenya.

With buy-in on the benefits of organic fertilizer to the future of Kenya’s soils from policymakers, other stakeholders, and with a policy framework in place, Nelson then demonstrated a grassroots-based economic model that facilitates the distribution of organic fertilizer at scale while creating thousands of jobs for young people and women. He has therefore carefully designed a model that engages young people and women at the grassroots level in the production and distribution of the fertilizer; this is a product that they would also be using, but in addition to producing improved inputs of their own, they are also paid for their work. Nelson is transforming these young people and women from being just farmers, to being soil custodians, by engaging them in the promotion of the use of organic fertilizer for all its benefits to the soil and crop yields.

Nelson is passionate about organic fertilizer, because while growing up he saw how much bigger the fruits from his home garden were compared to what he sees today. While studying to be a farm manager at university, he managed a 50 acre farm and remembers how high the yields were every season without the use of any form of fertilizers. Nelson therefore believes his work has the potential to help people return to eating healthy foods while also enhancing their production yields. Further, he strongly believes that by actively engaging young people and women in parts of the agricultural value chain, young people who would currently rather do anything other than agricultural work, will return seeing the potential to create a viable and sustainable livelihood. Involving grassroots communities in the production, use and distribution of the product, Nelson believes will change their habits—out of an appreciation for the benefits of the product—and turn them into not only socially responsible farmers, but protectors of the soil.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

More For You