County Information

Developing a value chain
Muranga County French Bean Value Chain & Gacharo Horticultural Group

French beans are among the top horticultural crops grown in Muranga County. The area under the crop is about 400 acres of which 200 acres are under varieties suitable for canning and 200 acres under varieties for the fresh market. There are approximately 4000 farmers growing the crop on 0.1 acres of land on average.

French beans are popular in the county as they are ready for harvest after short periods of time compared to most horticultural crops (45 – 60 days after planting). The green pods are harvested continuously for about a month guaranteeing the growers regular income despite the labour intensive nature of the crop. The county’s proximity to Nairobi enables the produce to reach the market while fresh, a key requirement for the supermarkets and other outlet such as hotels and restaurants where there is high demand for French beans. 

 

Farmers tending a crop of French beans in Murang’a County

French bean growers faced many challenges before intervention by ASDSP. There were many middle men in the chain, each with their own set of rules and requirements and in most instances the producers did not have a voice or a choice in the pricing of their produce. This scenario led to price fluctuation and market distortion at the expense of the producers. ASDSP and the county government worked together to streamline the French bean industry.

The Muranga County Coordination Unit made an inventory of the French bean value chain players.  The main actors identified were agro-producers, agro-input suppliers, agro- traders, agro- transporters and agro- processors even though processors were located in a different County (Nairobi Count).  The ASDSP targeted the agro producers as the first point of intervention by facilitating the training of the French bean growers on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). This is a quality management system recommended by the horticulture industry regulators that is designed to ensure French beans are grown to the recommended standards both for the local and export markets. The French bean growers were then mobilized into groups and trained by the Department of Co-operative Development Muranga County on group dynamics and management through the support of ASDSP. The groups were registered and coalesced to form the Muranga French Bean Growers Cooperative Society; An umbrella Apex - organization charged with the management of French bean industry in  the county.

With the formalization of the groups, ASDSP, through the stakeholder forum linked the groups to agro- traders.  Formal negotiations between agro- producers and agro -traders resulted in the signing of formal contracts for the marketing of French beans. This stabilized and increased the prices offered to the farmers.

Gacharo Horticultural farmer’s group – French bean agro-producer group

Gacharo Horticultural Farmer’s Group is a member of the Muranga French Bean Growers Cooperative Society. The group was formed in 2014 and is made up of 25 members of whom 8 are women and 4 are youth (2 male and 2 female). They grow French beans and other horticultural crops for the market. Prior to group formation, most members had loose contracts with various middlemen for the sale of their produce. Some of the middlemen dishonoured the contracts, others took the farmers produce and “disappeared” while others offered the farmers low prices on a take or leave basis. The average price offered was Ksh 30 – 35/- per kg of French beans.

As part of the county’s efforts to streamline the operations of the French bean industry, Gachacharo farmers were part of the many groups mobilized into groups by the County Agricultural stakeholders facilitated by ASDSP. The County Government provided them with inputs (seed, fertilizers and pesticides) that later transformed into a revolving fund. The group was trained on GAP and given technical advice on French bean growing from the area Agricultural Extension Officer.  A spray team was formed from among the group members to ensure spraying was done in the right way and on time. Through ASDSP, Gacharo HFG was linked to an agro- trader (InsterVeg Ltd) which signed a formal contract with the group for the supply of French beans. The average price offered for the crop rose to Ksh. 50 – 60/= per kg of French beans.

 

 
Chairman of Gacharo group, Mr. Simon Mbugua addressing the members

The group has a management committee of 5 members, representing the 5 locations in the Sub-county. It is lead by Mr. Simon Mbugua, a young man who holds a college diploma in marketing and sales.  The members plant French beans on 0.1 of an acre, giving a total of about 2.5 acres of the crop.  The county government had invested in water in the area; the farmers are able to irrigate their crop all year round.  Relay cropping of French beans up to three times per year is encouraged to ensure all round availability of the crop. The gross margin realized from the crop is Ksh 10,000/- per cropping with a variable cost of Ksh.5000/-. Farmers are able to earn up to Ksh. 15,000 per year from 0.1 of an acre.

The group members take their produce to a central collection centre for recording, inspection, sorting and packaging. The agro – trader picks the produce for marketing and pays the group three weeks after collection by depositing the money into the group account. The management committee pays the members their dues and retains Ksh. 5.00 per kg of produce. The money deducted pays for management, coordination and security at the collection centre. The money is also used to pay for motor bicycle taxi services hired to transport produce from farms to the collection centre and salary for an internal inspector who is employed by the group to ensure that the stipulated GAP standards are met. The remaining money is used for the group’s internal welfare arrangements.

Muranga County has a high number of young men and women affected by alcoholism. This particular group had embraced two youth who were adversely affected by alcohol and but were now actively engaged in French bean growing as part of their rehabilitation efforts.

ASDSP played a major role in the formation of the group and subsequent training and linkages to markets thereby ensuring regular incomes and higher standards of living for the farmers of Gacharo horticultural group.

Story by Josephine Mogere, Agriculture Information Resource Centre (AIRC)

 

 

 

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