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West­ern farmer abandon­s maize pro­duc­tion for more profitable French beans export market

french beans ready for market

Rachel Njoroge, a farmer in Trans Nzoia, West­ern Kenya can now af­ford to ac­cess in­ter­na­tional mar­ket with her pro­duce for more in­come after abandon­ing large-scale pro­duc­tion of maize for French beans.

Be­fore she learned about ex­port farm­ing about six years ago, Rachel used to grow maize, the tra­di­tional cash crop in the area. However, cur­rently, only a small por­tion of her land is ded­ic­ated to maize after she real­ised that hor­ti­cul­ture crops have a shorter pro­duc­tion cycle and are more prof­it­able.

Her first har­vest on half an acre was 2,100 kilos of French beans after plant­ing six kilos of cer­ti­fied seeds. She hired 24 people to plant, spray, weed, and har­vest her beans.

“French beans take between 45-50 days to ma­ture and once ready the crop can be har­ves­ted for three weeks of con­tinu­ous in­flow of cash,” said Rachel.

She sold the har­vest at Sh150-200 a kilo in ex­port mar­ket which saw her rake over Sh315,000 which was much more than what she used to earn while grow­ing maize.

RE­LATED ART­ICLE: Uni­versity drop out makes over Sh0.5m net in­come a sea­son from French beans farm­ing

To sup­ple­ment her in­come from French beans, she also plants to­ma­toes, black night­shade, cab­bage, pota­toes, and kale, which she sells loc­ally.

Rachel says that the idea of grow­ing ad­opt­ing hor­ti­cul­ture crops for in­come was sold to her by Farm Africa through mar­ket-led hor­ti­cul­ture that the Grow­ing Fu­tures pro­ject pro­motes among farm­ers in Trans-Nzoia and El­geyo Marak­wet Counties.

In this, the farmer has been trained on how to grow ex­port-qual­ity crops, set up sus­tain­able re­la­tion­ships with buy­ers and run a prof­it­able farm­ing busi­ness that has cre­ated jobs for many oth­ers in her com­munity.

RE­LATED ART­ICLE: Nandi farmer who quit maize for French beans gets guar­an­teed mar­ket

rachel njorgoge french beans farmer

In Novem­ber 2018, just when the short rainy sea­son was sub­sid­ing, Rachel de­cided to plant to­ma­toes on two acres, por­tion of her land. En­vi­sion­ing a loom­ing water short­age, she hired la­bour­ers to dig a reser­voir where she har­ves­ted rain­wa­ter for ir­rig­a­tion.

“After seed­lings in the nurs­ery bed had sprouted, I hired 15 people to trans­plant. Af­ter­wards, I would get someone to spray the crop against pests and dis­eases oc­ca­sion­ally. Dis­eases and pests are pre­val­ent dur­ing the dry period. I in­ves­ted in ex­pens­ive chem­ic­als to main­tain a healthy crop. I also hired la­bour for ir­rig­a­tion once a week.”

In March 2019, har­vest­ing com­menced. Rachel ob­serves that this was by far her best to­mato yield yet. Dur­ing the one and a half months of har­vest­ing, she hired 100 cas­ual la­bour­ers.

RE­LATED ART­ICLE: Pas­sion fruits, French beans and snap peas farm­ers win bid to sup­ply Nairobi busi­ness­man

Rachel’s pro­duce was ready for the mar­ket when the de­mand for to­ma­toes was high, thus fetch­ing a good price. The de­mand was so high that buy­ers picked the pro­duce at her farm, sav­ing her the trans­port cost.

“From the profit, I have bought a farm vehicle to ease trans­port­a­tion of pro­duce to the mar­ket. I also plowed back some of it to farm­ing, paid school fees for my three chil­dren and saved an­other por­tion for fu­ture in­vest­ment.”

4 thoughts on “West­ern farmer abandon­s maize pro­duc­tion for more profitable French beans export market”

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