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Exporter looking for Cavendish banana out growers to meet increasing export market demand

Cavendish bananas for export

Packed Cavendish bananas ready for market. Photo courtesy.

Lagran group limited, a Nairobi-based fresh produce exporter is seeking to increase the number of their out growers form the current 100 to grow Cavendish banana variety, one of the company’s specialty crop to meet the increasing demand in the export markets.

According to Linda Lagran, the company’s marketing officer, the company exports 50 tonnes of the bananas every month to the Middle East, Asia and European countries. However, they have never met the demand which she describes as huge hence the need for more out growers.

“We started outsourcing farmers to grow this variety of bananas four years ago but we have never satisfied the markets whose demands keep on increasing every other time,” said Linda.

South Korea, for instance, which in December last year gave Kenya a clean bill of health to export green bananas and broccoli to the country, imports 70 per cent of its food and in 2017, bananas were the most imported product in the country recording 834,000 tonnes, worth $1.24 billion, according to statistics released in September the same year by the South Korea Customs Service.

This has intensifies the campaign for the production of the crop by fresh produce export players in Kenya in a bid to curb the trade deficit.

In this, Lagran has been working with farmers within East Africa (Kenya and Tanzania) to grow the crop for Lagran Horticulture Crops for export on a contract basis which is overseen by Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) which is a promoter and regulator of contract farming between farmers and buyers in Kenya.

RELATED ARTICLE: Kenya reclaims banana export markets after ban lift

How to work with Lagran

Farmers who are keen to enter into the deal with Lagran Horticulture Crops are supposed to ensure that they have a land for production which should not be less than an acre and a constant water source that can sustain the crop.

“Bananas is a Moisture-loving plant hence it needs regular watering to sustain its large tropical leaves and produce sweet tasty fruits. This is why we must ensure that our growers have a constant water supply for constant production process,” said Linda.

They are then required to reach out to the company which through its team of agronomists ensure that the key first requirements are met including soil testing and the farmers are set to start organic production of the crop, a practice the company promotes since the use of synthetic fertilisers and chemicals has proven to be a turn off to most consumers.

From there, the growers must buy certified seedlings from the company for quality purposes.

“We understand that to reap big from the venture, a farmer should have good quantities of unpolluted and superior planting material and promote smart farm hygiene practices through correct management of the crop. This is why we insist that they buy the seedlings which we are sure of their qualities,” said Linda.

The farmers are then offered the following:

-Agronomical support

-Technical support

-Marketing of the Produce

-Irrigation systems setup

-Produce value addition among others

RELATED ARTICLE: Group earns six times from banana value addition

Possible returns

An acre can host 500 banana plants that if well tendered, they produce 1,000 bunches a year, each weighing between 80kg to 120kg after 340 days maturity period.

Lagran buys the bunches whose fruits measure 39 to 49mm for thickness and a length of 20 to 23cm each at Sh18-20 a kilo for export while the ones which do not meet the requirements are sold locally.

They also buy chilli, passion, pawpaw, tree tomato, avocado and mango fruits from farmers and just like bananas, only grade 1 and 2 are exported while the rest are sold in local markets.

The company can be reached on +254728201058 or email [email protected]

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