Ready banana market relieves frustrated coffee farmer

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Tranz-Nzoia farmer William Ndalila admires bananas at VI Agroforestry farm in Kitale on August 5, 2016. A Nyamira County farmer has found solace after coffee frustrated him. PHOTO BY LABAN ROBERT.

A frustrated Nyamira County coffee farmer, who moved into banana cultivation, has found the new venture more rewarding due to the quick and constant market.

Coffee farmers in the country suffer millions of shillings losses not only to black market dealers, but also to factory break-ins in search of the beans every month.

But Ezekiel Moseti, who delved into the banana farming is making more than Sh12,000 from the young farm, which he established in April 2015.

He started with 50 stems, but the number has multiplied as more suckers spout and mature. 

“The population has been growing steadily. From selling one to five bananas per month early this year (2016), have reached an average of 20 over the same period. The least bunch fetches Sh400 while the ‘giant’ ones earn up to Sh800,” the Magwagwa farmer said.

The losses trickle down to farmers.

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Although he has not uprooted the few coffee stems, Moseti is concentrates more on bananas, tomatoes and other vegetables for “quick and sure money”.

From the 30 coffee bushes, he harvests about 70kg in two months before selling the wet beans to brokers at Sh20 per kilo to raise money for supporting the vegetable sector.

“Bananas have a rich market in Nakuru, Nairobi, Kisumu, Mombasa and other major towns in the country. Trucks camp at Magwagwa while others go round the villages collecting the bananas. It is ready and reliable money, unlike the coffee, which may pay or not even after delivery of the beans to the factory,” he said.

Moseti started with 10 tissue cultured banana while the rest are indigenous. One of the varieties is local- and it is called ‘Ekegusii’, which gives small but numerous fingers. The other one is locally called ‘Ng’ombe’, which yields fewer fingers than the ‘Ekegusii’ but they are longer and highly marketable for plantain.