As well as being home to some fabulous beaches, Tiwi, located on Kenya's South Coast, is home to something a little more surprising: a very sophisticated one-acre
farm that grows Arthrospira platensis – more commonly known as superfood Spirulina.
Started in 2014, Tiwani Spirulina aims to produce top quality spirulina at aﬀordable prices. Before setting up the business, Tiwani Spirulina's founder and owner, Luke Harries, was already a spirulina convert. He'd been taking daily doses of spirulina powder for over 6 months,based on a friend's recommendation, and found it to have a positive impact on his energy levels and cognitive abilities. Today Tiwani Spirulina is a thriving company selling spirulina-based health products across Kenya.
But let's take a step back – what exactly is Spirulina? The word itself comes from Latin and means 'small spiral' and it's basically a tiny blue-green algae shaped like a spiral coil. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO, 2008), it is a primitive organism originating some 3.5 billion years ago that uses carbon dioxide dissolved in seawater as a
nutrient source for its reproduction.
It grows naturally in mineral rich alkaline lakes such as Lake Texcoco in Mexico, Lake Chad and in several lakes closer to home in the Rift Valley.
Indeed, it is the favourite source of food for the ﬂamingo populations of Lake Natron and Lake Nakuru. Tiwani Spirulina's own strain of spirulina comes from Lake Natron, mineral rich soda lake on the border between Kenya and Tanzania.
Spirulina was harvested by the Aztecs as far back as the16th Century, and traditionally made into a blue-green cake, reportedly popular with Aztec messenger runners. Closer to home in Central Africa, spirulina, known locally as Dihé, has been harvested and processed for generations by women of the Kanembu people who live near the wetlands of Lake Chad. There too, the brightly coloured algae is dried and made into algae cakes for sale in local markets. The cakes are then crumbled into stews and sauces to add nutrients to meals - or even eaten whole by pregnant woman.
So what makes spirulina so special? A quick look online produces a myriad of answers to this question – from it being the most nutritious food on the planet,