Know what you eat, eat with prudence: Make some healthy changes with Kenko1st Organic 

Kenko1st Organic Founder Ishikawa Naohito

Founder of Kenko1st Organic Ishikawa Naohito, with his dedicated interest in protecting the environment, has attempted to drastically change how Sri Lankans eat and how agriculture is pursued in the country. 

Kenko1st Organic is a social enterprise that aims to protect the health of consumers, farmers’ health, the health of the earth, and produce and supply safe food. Naohito commented that despite having founded the initiative, he is by no means the owner as they are able to keep doing what they set out to do because of their collaborators, that is the 60 organic farmers they are currently operating with. 

Naohito shared that in Sri Lanka, farmers use a large amount of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, which has environmental and health impacts, and considering how using a large amount of pesticides reap only temporary results and the farmers themselves are the first victims of this issue, the problem continues to worsen. 

Taking into consideration these persistent concerns, for the past 8-9 years Naohito has been working on developing agricultural practices amongst a community of farmers who have joined his cause, and in doing so he has accumulated a supply of fresh organic produce where not only are all the producers certified by internationally or nationally organic certified bodies, but they have a personal relationship with every one of their suppliers: “We know each producer’s faces”, maintaining a hands on approach to production. 

Implementing an ethical business model, Naohito shared that in case of small-scale producers, Kenko1st purchases produce at a fixed premium price throughout the year regardless of market fluctuations, and they also maintain fixed sales prices as well: “Basically the price is always the same throughout the year. We aim to share benefits and risks equally among producers, consumers, and ourselves, not only for the producers or farmers”. 

The Kento1st team at their farm

They have also collaborated with which provides islandwide delivery for a cost of Rs. 49.50, an affordable rate allowing access to organic foods for anyone anywhere in the island. 

Kenko1st also has attempted to think outside the box when it comes to the products in which they offer their consumers – some such products being their organic carrot powder which can be used as baby food, or for facial packs. The no sugar yoghurt, unlike the mass marketed set yoghurts, their yoghurt truly contains no sugar, however they also offer a low sugar option containing 2% sugar in the product. “If you look at the set yoghurt in the store it reads up to 13-14% sugar percentage which is a conservable amount, but if you are diabetic or if you are looking to feed young children Kenko1st’s items are ideal and safe.” 

Naohito also shared that they have a coconut sugar product which was initially almost exclusively an export product, however due to Covid-19 times, they have refocused it for the local market. With regular sugar having a high Glycemic Index (GI) in the hundreds, Naohito said that coconut sugar has a GI as low as around 35. 

Naohito also addressed the relative inaccessibility to organic foods in Sri Lanka particular due to the fairly high price point, he said that it is unfortunate that this is the case stating that in Sri Lanka there is a logistic issue which must be addressed, adding that if they are able to mass produce then this price concern will not be the case. He also said that, not wishing to name names, there are profit making entities that are driving up the price when it comes to organic products, however things are getting better he said. Sharing that within the next 2-3 years, he said that they target creating a more affordable price point for the organic products. A first step has been adopted where they provide a subscription model where a designated pack of produce will be delivered on a subscription basis which allows for nearly 30% discount, delivery free of charge (free delivery only available in Colombo). 

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