Over 2,200 small scale farmers who were previously into coffee and miraa production have found a new venture in banana farming thanks to free open markets in the area frequented by buyers and Twiga Foods, a B2B fresh produce firm which contracts farmers in the county.
This started some years back when coffee prices stated fluctuating while miraa was also losing ground in the local and international markets with bans in the United Kingdom (UK) and Somalia and locally in Kwale and Nyandarua.
“Dwindling coffee prices since 1980s made me to uproot several trees and replaced them with bananas. Currently, my 10 acres land are now under banana farming because the crop is doing well in the market,” Aaron M’Aburi, former Chairman of Imenti South Banana Growers Association.
Today there are free open air markets in South Imenti Sub County where banana farming has taken root running from Monday to Friday at Ntharene, Muruiri, Igoji, Mwichuine, kamachege and Kariene.
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In these markets, traders from all over the country park up their bicycles, lorries and pick-ups as they scramble over the produce.
This has excited the farmers who have increased productions to 127, 575 tonnes of bananas annually something which has attracted formal byers.
Twiga Foods is such buyers which now working with over 2,200 farmers in Meru on contract basis. The farmers are able to produce 36 tonnes every season.
“Meru has become one of our best location for banana sourcing with over 8,505 acres under the crop. We source the produce from growers and deliver it directly to the vendors,” read a statement from Twiga Foods website.
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In this, the firm is able to eliminate brokers, monitor quality of the produce and reduce farmers’ post-harvest losses.
The company, so far has banana collection centres in Githongo, Mitunguu, Mujwa, Egoji, Maua and Mikinduri in Meru.
“As such we guarantee a market, promptly pays for produce, transparent pricing, so farmers can get estimate how much they will get for their produce besides offering agronomist support to growers.”
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