DOB Equity invests in Kenyan lab testing business

The firm invested in Cropnuts, which provides lab tests on soil, water and crops, alongside AHL Venture Partners, with food security a continuing thematic for the Dutch family office investor.

Dutch family office DOB Equity has invested an undisclosed amount in a laboratory testing and agronomy services business in Kenya.

The firm made the investment in Cropnuts alongside AHL Venture Partners but declined to disclose the split between the two parties in the joint venture.

Cropnuts provides lab tests on soil, water and crops for farms, research institutions and non-governmental organisations in sub-Saharan Africa. The firm tests samples at its laboratory facility in Limuru, Kenya, and has a network of agronomists in the country to support clients.

The firm holds approximately 75 percent of the market share of Kenya’s horticulture sector, DOB Equity said in a statement.

The firm said that its investment will help to expand Cropnuts’ testing services in larger laboratory facilities and increase sales of its mobile lab units.

“Most smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa don’t have access to the right technical knowledge, such as maintaining soil fertility, or which inputs and their quantities [should be used] in certain soil types; this reduces their yields, in turn decreasing their incomes/livelihood and ultimately compromising overall food security,” DOB investment analyst Arnold Mwangi told Agri Investor.

“Cropnuts found that farmer yields can potentially increase 2x with accurate soil analysis and guided recommendations. Given that roughly 60 percent of DOB’s portfolio is in agriculture and agribusiness, Cropnuts fits perfectly in our portfolio.”

DOB Equity invested in Ten Senses Africa, an organic and fair-trade certified macadamia producer, processor and trader, in November last year, and its other Kenyan investments include an integrated milk processor, Countryside Dairy.

The firm will continue to deploy capital in the agri sector, Mwangi said. “Food security is a core thematic area for DOB. Agribusiness is roughly 60 percent of our portfolio and we will continue investing in innovative, scalable companies that are strengthening food security across East Africa,” he said.

DOB is a family office maintained by the de Rijcke family that is focused on investments in the food, agribusiness, natural resources, retail, waste, mobile technology and clean energy sectors in East Africa. It has offices in Kenya, Tanzania and the Netherlands.