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    By George Munene

    An agro commodities trader based in Embu is looking for a consistent annual supply of 10 million tonnes of dried cassava for export to China.

    Dennis Fundi, who previously exported shelled macadamia to the Southeast Asian nation, said he has had difficulty rounding up enough farmers to meet a fraction of this requirement.

    “I have managed to get in contact with a number of cassava growers around Embu but the numbers are still minuscule and the supply erratic. If I could at least meet half of the order, we'd send samples of the crop to China and get the ball rolling,” Dennis said.

    The cassava should have starch content over 67 per cent; moisture, fiber, and silica levels under 14 per cent, five per cent, and three per cent respectively.

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    In tropical regions, cassava is cultivated as an annual crop, and it is the third-highest source of carbohydrates.

    Between 2022-2030 the cassava market is expected to grow 3.9 per cent and reach a market value of $ 5.5 Billion in the forecast period. This will be buoyed by the growth of its use in new industries such as biofuel, animal feed, and laundry. 

    Dennis Fundi: 0700362814

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    Samuel Kihia

    By George Munene

    At the beginning of the year, over 60 farmers with around 100 acres of land in Njabini, Nyandarua County, collectivised under 3 Ridges Agribusiness Organisation. This they say has helped them get discounted prices for farm inputs and more bargaining power when selling their produce.

    “When selling your groceries as an individual, brokers often demand to buy from you in bags, that's how farmers wind up selling 150 kilograms of potatoes for the price of a 90-kilogram bag. With bulk products that can be got from a sing source and location, we have greater bargaining power and are even looking to bypass middlemen and sell directly to agro-processers,” explained the group's chairman Samuel Kyihiah.

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    The group, which is still in its infancy, is working to leverage its numbers to partner with organisations such as USAID.

    Its farmers cultivate potatoes, carrots, broccoli, cabbages, cauliflower, spinach, sprouts, and turnips.  

    For farmers in Njabini, as with most of Kenya, access to markets and the skyrocketing cost of inputs have been the major hurdles to making a success out of farming.

    “We train farmers, are able to make bulk purchases at marginally cheaper costs, and source for markets at a position of relative strength than we were before,” said Samuel. 

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    According to a research paper on the Economic impact of farming cooperatives in East Africa, in Kenya, growing cooperatives provided farmers with collective marketing which improved their incomes compared to noncooperative farmers. Other benefits for the farmers included access to technological innovation and extension services, which were linked to higher-value markets.

    In readiness for the short rains, the farmers are sowing the Unica potato variety targeting crisps and chip makers, and are hopeful that more markets will open up in time. 

    Samuel Kyihiah, 3 Ridges Agribusiness Organisation: 0721813430

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    Spinach Nathan Mala Nyambari Kimabu County By Laban Robert edited2

    In avoiding market middlemen, who eat into the profits, one Kiambu County spinach farmer is making more money from searching and delivering the vegetable on his own to the Nairobi City market.
    Nathan Mala makes about Sh500 more from a sack of 50kg after delivering the spinach to specific Nairobi city groceries.
    Middlemen go round farms in his locality of Nyambari, which is along the Nairobi Nakuru Highway collecting vegetables for sale to Nairobi, Mombasa and other major towns.
    A sack of spinach weighing 50kg is bought at between Sh1,300 and Sh1,500, depending on the supply that day.
    But for Mala, the spinach is bound into bundles, earning at least Sh2,000.
    “Breaking it down into bundles enables me to sell it to various customers according to their desires. From one sack, I get 200 bundles, which fetch Sh100 each. Even after spending about Sh100 on each sack in transportation, I have a bigger margin of profits than those who sell to brokers,” he said.
    From the more than 500 spinach plants, the farmers harvests at least three sacks after 10 days despite the dry spell that has spanning for more than three months.

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    The farm is connected to the Kiambu County water, which he uses for irrigation.
    The ne acre piece of land is majorly covered by the spinach, a few sticks of kales-also known as sukuma wiki-, as well as an 8m by 30m green house.

    The greenhouse currently hosts tomatoes.

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