Hussein Ali and Tasmin Yaseen are busy working at their small value addition plant in Elgon View, Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County.
He picked up the interest in food value addition from his parents more than a decade ago as he saw his mother make chilli sauce at a restaurant they owned in Eldoret town.
“I decided to start making the sauce after friends made inquiries when I made samples. They liked it and I decided to fill the gap,” Hussein explains.
He used Sh2,000 to purchase small quantities of chilli pepper as he processed them manually but he has since bought a blender and hand-printing machine that he imported from China.
To make the sauce, he sources dried chilli pepper from a firm based in Eldoret town, which exports to the European Union at between Sh170 and Sh550.
The couple makes three categories of chilli sauce, that is, mild, hot and intense that are packaged in green, yellow and red branded bottles. They use three different varieties of chilli for the value-added products.
To make the products, the dried chilli is blended and cooked with other spices.
“The process of blending takes place for about an hour depending on the quantity. It is boiled with other spices for around an hour until it reaches the desired texture. We let it cool for a day and store it in containers. After that we pack in a jar and deep it in hot water to create a vacuum or sterilise before sealing them. The whole process takes about three days,” says Ali.
Their products are certified by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs), says Yaseen, adding they use social media platforms and referrals to market their products.
They package the sauce in 500g bottles and sell them at Sh500. In a week, they make between 200 and 300 bottles.
They sell them to a retail chain in Eldoret town and to other markets such as Mombasa, Nairobi, Nakuru, Kisumu and Kakamega.
Dr Josiah Chivue from the department of Seed, Crop and Horticultural Sciences, University of Eldoret, says chilli needs well-drained soils with a pH range of 6.0-6.5. Water stress should be avoided during fruit development as this leads to both flower and fruit abortion.
“For value addition, the market prefers chillies that are bright red that are either dried or turned into powder.”