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Kwale citrus farmers triple earnings by forming marketing groups

Citrus farmers in Kwale have tripled the prices of their produce from between Sh80 and Sh150 for a 30kg bag to between Sh300 to Sh400 after forming common working interest groups to market their produce.

In this, the farmers worked with the Kenya Agricultural Productivity Project to mobilise farmers in the citrus value chain.

Farmers at the location level were grouped into four zones, each zone comprising one common working group (CWG). Three farmer representatives in each of the four zones were elected to serve at the location level. Another three representatives were elected at the locational level to sit on the sub-county committee. Each sub-county also elected three officials to serve on the county committee.

The county committee represented the farmers and signed a contract with the service provider (Misamu Agrovet Consortium) who built the capacity of the farmers at a tune of Sh4.1m.

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The service provider hired grassroots partners who were deployed to locations where citrus is grown. This team ensured that farmers were sensitized on the importance of selling their produce in standardized bags. Initially, more than half of the farmers had been selling their fruits packed in non-standardized bags, which led to 50 per cent losses.

The farmer common working groups were then linked to buyers from other regions including Mombasa, Nairobi, Nakuru, Thika, Eldoret, and Kisii.

For the control of pests and diseases, KAPP assisted the farmers, through their groups, in purchasing insecticides and fungicides. The farmers were also given technical advice on how they could control pests and diseases through practical demonstrations.

As a result of the interventions, farmers’ yields per tree increased from 350 to 500 fruits per tree per year. Fruit production per year increased from 33,243 bags (30 kg bag) in 2012 to 55,625 bags currently for 1,460 (1020 males, 440 females) farmers.

The total income of 1,460 farmers (1020 males, 440 females) increased significantly from Sh5.2m to Sh18.1m in the third year. The return to investment index calculated for the citrus farmers was 2.27, an indication that for each shilling spent by farmers, there was Sh2.27 realized.

Isaac Ndivo, a member of one of the CWGs in Lukore location for instance has increased the number of his citrus trees from 100 to 400. In addition, he earned Sh30,000 from the sale of citrus seedlings and Sh65,500 from the sale of citrus fruits.

From the earnings, he has purchased two oxen at Sh36,000 and a water tank at Sh16,000. He uses the oxen to plough his farm. This has enabled him to increase the acreage under citrus cultivation from two to four acres. He anticipates earning over Sh150,000 in the subsequent seasons.

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