With statistics showing that post-harvest losses account for up to 40 per cent of total yield, one Uasin Gishu County farmer has decided to first locate the market before growing courgettes.
Maxwell Kiptanui, who is also a lettuce and butternut pumpkins farmer, searched for courgette suppliers in high-end vegetable outlets within Eldoret and Kitale before embarking on production of the vegetable at his farm in Ziwa.
“While working as a production manager in a farm based in Elgeyo Marakwet, I was inspired by how much someone could earn from farming as I went around marketing produce and creating networking opportunities,” said Kiptanui.
“I realized that by selling produce directly to clients you earn 20 per cent more if you avoid brokers/middlemen and that’s why I resigned in February 2018 to start my own farm,”
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According to a 2015 research titled market research as an important factor for the development of agriculture by the University of Albania, agricultural producers must produce what the market demands and appreciates. This means that market research and customer approach can obviously lead to an increase in product market through the harmonization of production with customer demand.
Kiptanui started his farming venture with two acres of land inherited from his father to plant courgettes (zucchini) and lettuce.
He bought courgette seeds at Sh1200 and lettuce 75g of lettuce seeds at Sh500 from Royal Seed Company, a brand of Kenya Highland Seed and the distributor of certified seeds in Kenya.
He planted 5,000 seedlings of courgette on a 0.4 acre of land and 6,000 seedlings of lettuce on another 0.4 acre, two short season crops that mature within a period of 50 to 60 days.
“At maturity, I harvested at least 165kg of courgettes three times weekly for a period of three months selling a kilo at an average of Sh40. Lettuce on the other hand earned me Sh30 per kilo initially as I had not known the market well but afterwards this increased to Sh50 per kilo when I sold to an exporter in Eldoret,” said Kiptanui.