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    2018 06 09 Kenya Tea CT 33

    By George Munene

    According to Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya the average prices of smallholder teas have jumped 40 percent at auction owing to the minimum reserve price put in place by the government in July this year.

    The recorded increase is from an average of Sh209.38 to Sh293.13 per kilogram from the sales of July and part of September 2021. This translated to increased revenue of 172 million shillings within a one-month period.

    The government through KTDA at the beginning of July set the minimum reserve price for processed tea at the Mombasa auction at Sh268. This unprecedented move was aimed at cushioning smallholder farmers. 

    Related News: Eldoret company develops tea picking device halving production costs

    Related News: Njeru Industries shakes up tea buying with fast payments

    While introducing the reserve price, the KTDA board and the Agriculture CS noted that tea prices had declined below production cost making it difficult for smallholder producers to make a profit from their tea.

    “The payments made to smallholder tea growers through Kenya Tea Development (KTDA) factories declined from Sh58.76 per kilogram in 2016-2017 to Sh36.64 a kilogram in 2019-2020. Reforms within the tea sector are vital in arresting this worrying trend,” Munya pointed out.  

    The CS further added that KTDA through the Agriculture ministry has requested a fertiliser subsidy worth Sh1 billion which will reduce fertiliser cost from Sh3,073 to Sh2,473 per kilogram bag.

    Related News: Bomet County begins direct tea sales to Iran, offering farmers improved prices

    The tea sub-sector earns the country over Sh120 billion annually and is the primary source of livelihood for over 650,000 farmers supporting over 6.5 million people.

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    farm africa res

    By George Munene

    The Farm Africa Growing Futures project is helping over 4,000 young farmers in western Kenya acquire the skills to grow vegetables that are in high demand then linking them to domestic and international markets.

    The funding is focused on western Kenya where 80 per cent of the unemployed population is under 35, with farming employing 70 per cent of the country’s rural population.

    The youth aged between 18-35 years are trained to acquire technical assistance in horticultural production and agronomy, helping the farmers produce the quantity and quality of produce demanded by high-value buyers and certification schemes.

    Related News: Agritech startup giving market to small-scale banana, pumpkin, sweet potato, arrowroot & yam growers

    Related News: Kenyan mango farmers resume exports to lucrative European market

    They are provided with access to agricultural technologies such as drip-irrigation systems, fertilisers, seeds, and pesticides.

    The farmers are further linked to domestic and international markets through training to help them meet export markets’ standards. Once trained farmer groups then facilitated to secure export contracts guaranteeing a market for their produce.

    Founded in 2011, Farm Africa is helping farmers in Trans-Nzoia and Elgeyo Marakwet Counties capitalise on the growing demand for produce such as French beans, mangetouts, kale, tomatoes, and cabbages.

    “Growing Futures focuses on the youth who are unable to continue schooling and are interested in venturing into agriculture. They acquire technical skills on crop production as well as business skills on how to run their farms as a business,” explained the project’s coordinator Mary Nyale.

    Related News: Meru sunflower farmers get ready market from climate adaptation project

    For Joseph Kiplagat, the project has been a godsend. After failing to secure an office job, the father of four ventured into agriculture. 

    Initially struggling to make ends meet while sorely growing maize, through Farm Africa, he shifted to cultivating a mix of vegetables which has enabled him maximise his profits. 

    The project which also operates in Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, and DR Congo is funded by supermarket chain Aldi UK. Medicor Foundation and UK aifd. 

    Farm Africa: 254 20 273 1664/ 254 721 576 531/ 254 734 721 208

    Email:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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    french beans

    By George Munene

    In Kandara, Muranga county, 25 farmers, who banded together as Golden Greengrowers to produce beans on contract for export, have been able to increase their farming acreage, benefit from economies of scale, and supply exporter Total Fresh with 8 to 10 tonnes a week of vanilla French beans. 

    The group, which is also now running an additional 100 outgrowers, has seen a marked improvement in the lives of its members since they came together as a collectivised operation in 2017. Before that, most of them were farming at a subsistence level, but by forming a group, they have been able to act as a large farmer.

    As soon as they were benefiting from their collective large scale, they opted for contract farming, which means they do not need to worry about finding buyers once they have produced their products. They now sell their French beans at Sh60 per kilo, but they aim to acquire their own source of transport, which will increase their selling price to Sh100/Kg. 

    Related story:Contract farming doubles income for Bomet farmers

    Augustino Muiruri, a horticultural consultant and the group’s field man explains that French beans need warm weather and well aerated soil with little hard pans in order to thrive. 

    French beans are a short-term crop, taking only 49-52 days to mature. This makes them low on maintenance, demanding little in labour costs as they only need to be weeded every so often; making it an ideal crop for many of the group’s young members. 

    Farmers need 8kg of seeds for an acre, that cost Sh1200. The seeds are sowed directly. Fertiliser is added and then they are manured. From then on, fertiliser is applied on the 3rd and 5th week. Watering is done thrice a week.

    The main pests they have to deal with are whiteflies, cutworms, leafminers and thrips. Pesticides for all these can be purchased from accredited agrovets.

    Related story:East Africa Breweries Limited takes sorghum contract farming to Kakamega

    It has not all been smooth sailing though, said Muiruri, with harvests hit by some issues of poor leadership and with bulk purchases of farm inputs such as manure, fertiliser and chemicals. However, the group has surmounted its challenges to sharply reposition its members.

    To get into contract farming, the group had to have at least 3 acres of farmland where it could rotate the crop to maintain a steady supply throughout the year.

    Augustino Muiruri’s contacts: 0720 529035

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