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RSS By: Jeanne Bernick, Top Producer

Jeanne, Top Producer Editor, grew up on a beef cattle operation in Southwest Missouri and now writes from the heart of corn country in Eastern Iowa.

Enormous Market Potential for Kenyan Vegetables

Nov 13, 2012

We left Nairobi on Friday morning for Lake Naivasha region and a stop off at the a beautiful viewpoint in the Rift Valley.

Rift Valley

After that, we continue southeast to a vegetable farming project near Naivasha. The project is helping smallholder farmers by strengthening them in training and Extensions, linking them to private sector markets, such as supermarket chains, and offering access to new lending vehicles. The project grows 13 different crops, with the top being potatoes, carrots and cabbage. In Kenya, vegetables can be grown year round.

Smallholders grow 80% of the produce for Kenyan consumers, and with 1 million new mouths to feed each year, vegetable demand is on the uptick. By forming larger groups of small farmers, these farmers can command better prices and negotiate for seed and other inputs. The group brings samples of their vegetables to the supermarket. If there is a contract, the supermarket then works with the group on a planting schedule around demand needs.

The project is also teaching better agronomic skills. For instance, agronomists introduced crop rotation to the farmers, and they increased their potato production from 8 tons per hectare to 35 tons per hectare. The farmers also have problems with potato blight, and are now spraying by hand. Fertilizer is a combination of manure, lime or gypsum and DAP or NPK. Inputs cost about $282 for a quarter of an acre. Vegetable farmers can sell their product for about $585 per quarter acre. Farmers get 65c per pound of potato they sell.

egetable farmer photo

"We used to have problems with marketing, and we would plant our crops not knowing where to sell," says Esther Waithira Chege, Marketing Chairlady of the vegetable group. "By pooling together, we have pushed out the middle man and can talk directly to the supermarkets."

"We are now doing business farming, not farming to plant a crop and feed the waste to animals because we have no market," Waithira Chege says.

Most of the increased profits from the vegetable group will be used for school fees and some for savings.

Learn more about my trip to AFrica. Read my travellogue.>>

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COMMENTS (1 Comments)

Gerald - Cedar Rapids, IA
Wow, you missed a great opportunity to talk about the famous Rift Valley. Here is the Wikipedia introduction on Rift Valley Fever, which is a devastating disease they deal with there on a sporadic basis.

Rift Valley fever (RVF) is a viral zoonosis (affects primarily domestic livestock, but can be passed to humans) causing fever. It is spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes, typically the Aedes or Culex genera. The disease is caused by the RVF virus, a member of the genus Phlebovirus (family Bunyaviridae). The disease was first reported among livestock in Kenya around 1915, but the virus was not isolated until 1931. RVF outbreaks occur across sub-Saharan Africa, with outbreaks occurring elsewhere infrequently, but sometimes severely. In Egypt in 1977-78, several million people were infected and thousands died during a violent epidemic. In Kenya in 1998, the virus claimed the lives of over 400 Kenyans. In September 2000, an outbreak was confirmed in Saudi Arabia and Yemen). On 19 Oct 2011, a case of Rift Valley fever contracted in Zimbabwe was reported in a Caucasian female traveler who returned to France after a 26-day stay in Marondera, Mashonaland East Province during July and August, 2011 [1]but later classified as 'not confirmed.' [2]
8:01 AM Nov 24th

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