By Prudence Minayo
Traditionally, most Kenyan farmers have depended on maize and beans to make a living. This trend is slowly changing as the export market is proving to be lucrative. Firms have also emerged to contract farmers to plant the crop for export.
Here is the story of Paul Ng’ang’a who has discovered gold in French beans as told by WoK.
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The value in French beans
Paul Ng’ang’a was contracted to grow french beans by VegPro. French beans have been dominating the Kenyan export market and many farmers have resorted to plant the crop.
In an interview with Farmbiz Africa in February 2022, Paul said that he plants the French beans in one acre of his five acres of farm land. The remainder has maize which he planned to phase out. According to the farmer, maize took a lot of time to germinate unlike French beans. A farmer would then expect approximately 20 bags per acre, thus earning about Sh40,000 to Sh50,000. With French beans, one can invest Sh80,000 and earn thrice the amount.
The farmer told the publication that it has been a year since he got into the business and it was proving to be great. In that season, he harvested 4,000kg of the beans and was hoping to reach 6000 by the end of harvesting. This would give him a tidy sum since the crop takes two months to mature and is bought by the contractor at Sh40 per kilogram.
Planting french beans
Mr. Ng’ang’a found out about french beans from an organization run by USAID called Kenya Agricultural Value Chain Enterprises (Kaves). After growing the crops, he is able to get direct market from VegPro, a horticultural company that exports product. They also provide him with certified seeds.
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For an acre of land, a farmer needs about 10 kilograms of seeds. Before planting them, he applied DAP and afterwards applied CAN for topdressing twice. The first top dress is done when the crop has three leaves and the second when they flower.
To plant the crops, he digs deep then spaces 15cm between plants and 30cm between columns. The crops are then harvested after 45-55 days and the harvesting period can last up to six weeks.
After harvesting, the crops are sold to Vegpro. The farmer has not only found money with french beans but is also able to create employment.
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