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    Relay cropping keeps Kiambu French bean farmer earning through the year

    french beans

    A French beans farmer in Ngoliba, Ki­ambu County, who lost about Sh100,000 four years ago due to the lack of a ready mar­ket as she har­ves­ted, has since ad­op­ted relay plant­ing on now 15 acres to give her a con­stant har­vest that is gen­er­at­ing an in­come of Sh150,000 a month.

    Start­ing off in French beans farm­ing from her bank­ing job, Jecinta Ngina in­ves­ted Sh400,000 of her sav­ings and loans to lease an acre of land and in­vest in farm in­puts.

    After 45 days, the 36-year-old former banker with no ex­per­i­ence in farm­ing har­ves­ted her first crop only to reaslise that there was no ready mar­ket, which saw her sell the en­tire product=uc­tion for the best price she could get, of Sh24,000.

    RE­LATED CON­TENT:Trans Nzoia farmer ditches maize for French beans, earns more in ex­port mar­ket

    This saw her re­con­sider her mar­ket and pro­duc­tion, and at­tend train­ing or­gan­ised by hor­ti­cul­tural and chem­ical com­pan­ies in Thika, where she net­worked and at­trac­ted cli­ents.

    As a res­ult, today, she has leased 15 acres, where she grows to­ma­toes, French beans and baby corn.

    For French beans, she has di­vided her farm into blocks of an acre each where she plants the crop so that at any given time she has a young French beans crop, an­other await­ing ma­tur­ity and a ma­ture one ready for pick­ing. She then plants French beans for two sea­sons, and ro­tates with to­ma­toes or baby corn.

    “I get an av­er­age of Sh150,000 from an acre of French beans a month, which is my profit,” said Ngina.

    RE­LATED CON­TENT:Mango and French beans ex­porter buy­ing the pro­duce from out-grow­ers

    A kilo of French beans fetches between Sh50 and Sh180 de­pend­ing on sup­ply and de­mand. She har­vests an av­er­age of 2,000kg a month, while a crate of to­ma­toes goes for between Sh1,000 and Sh2,000.

    The French beans and baby corn are mainly for ex­port, while she sells the to­ma­toes in the local mar­ket where she makes about Sh40,000 from an acre of to­ma­toes monthly, which goes to run­ning the en­tire farm.

    She sells the to­ma­toes to traders who come to her farm and pay in cash.

    She plants baby corn on about three acres and sells it to an ex­port­ing com­pany at Sh25 a kilo. From ex­ports through one com­pany, she now has tens of cli­ents and en­sures their de­mand be­fore plant­ing.

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    The ex­port­ing com­pan­ies give her a list of chem­ic­als she is al­lowed to use and those that are pro­hib­ited. The chem­ic­als keep chan­ging. She is also in­struc­ted on the pre-har­vest in­ter­vals after spray­ing.

    She grades the pro­duce at a shed in her farm, to en­sure only qual­ity ones are de­livered. 

    “Farm­ing needs some know­ledge and pas­sion. I do not have a back­ground in ag­ri­cul­ture, but I had the pas­sion to learn and farm.

    ”This has helped her meet many chal­lenges, in­clud­ing er­ratic weather. When it is dry, she uses drip ir­rig­a­tion and pumps water from the nearby Chania River. But “when the rains are heavy, my crop is des­troyed,” she said.

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

    En­sur­ing a mar­ket is also an on­go­ing chal­lenge. “Some­times cli­ents fail to hon­our their prom­ise to buy pro­duce even after they agreed be­fore the plant­ing sea­son.”

    Her plan is to ex­port her pro­duce dir­ectly, but she is still mas­ter­ing the many li­cences, which, she says, are rig­or­ous and costly.

    Her farm­ing prac­tice has seen her won an award by the Min­istry of Ag­ri­cul­ture and Elgon Kenya for being the top young farmer in Mur­ang’a County.

    She now has a full-time farm man­ager and also em­ploys cas­ual la­bour­ers from time to time to help with plant­ing, weed­ing, and har­vest­ing.

    Jecinta Ngina canbe reached on :0714723004

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