Horticultural crops for export
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CTA. 2005. Horticultural crops for export. Rural Radio Resource Pack 05/2. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57197
Eric Kadenge talks to a French bean farmer and a mango farmer, and the extension worker who has been helping them, for example with record-keeping.
Horticultural crops for export Cue: Kenya is well known as one of the major African suppliers of fruit, vegetables and flowers to European markets. In January this year, a group of European buyers, including some of the big supermarkets, introduced a new set of standards for horticultural produce. Called Eurepgap, the standards require all suppliers to grow their produce in accordance with strict rules - and to be able to prove that they have done so. Failure to meet the standards could mean that a buyer will refuse to accept the produce, potentially a big loss of income for the farmer. So growing for export markets remains a challenging business, not least for small-scale farmers. To find out how farmers are coping, and to learn about the support offered by the agricultural extension services in Kenya, Eric Kadenge recently visited two farms close to Nairobi. He also spoke to an extension officer who has been helping both farmers with their production and their marketing. IN: ?My name is Bernard Ngoi? OUT: ? alongside their food crops.? DUR?N 7?55? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Sarah Ndegwa concluding that while growing horticultural crops for export is a demanding activity, it can also be financially rewarding. Transcript Ngoi: My name is Bernard Ngoi. I plant French beans, baby corns and maize for eating. Kadenge: Do you also plant the French beans for eating? Ngoi: No I plant French beans for selling. Kadenge: Right now we are in your farm and I can see that you are busy as well as your colleagues here. What is happening, what are you doing? Ngoi: Now we are preparing to plant some French beans. Kadenge: Why did you decide to grow French beans for sale? Ngoi: It is the crop for which I can get money easily, because we use one and a half months to get money. Kadenge: What are some of the biggest challenges you face with this crop? Ngoi: Sometimes when we have no fertilizers or the money where we can get it, it is difficult for us, because if you plant without fertilizer or manure it cannot do well. Also we use some labourers but we give them 120/- per half day. Sometimes we use a machine for pumping some water. So sometimes we get loss instead of profit. Kadenge: Why do you have to use labourers? Ngoi: It is because if we use cows we cannot prepare well, so as to make the French beans grow well. Kadenge: And you've mentioned that you also have to use a water pump to pump water. Where do you get this water from? Is it from that river ahead of us? Ngoi: We get water from this river, you can see. Also we built a gabion here - you can see it. And we were helped by local government. We can use it and plant more and we can get money. Kadenge: Now the level of the water here is very, very low. Is this what usually happens or are there times when you have a lot of water here that it actually flows like a big river? Ngoi: Yes, in December, January to May it flows very much, and there is plenty of water here. Kadenge: Other than the problems of pumping water and the cost of production of French beans, what other difficulties do you face in terms of growing French beans? Ngoi: Sometimes there is some limit in marketing. And if we plant and it is not carried, we lose some kgs (kilograms). Kadenge: So they are very perishable. They have to get to the market quickly. And how do you carry them from your farm to the market? Ngoi: We use wheel-barrows to carry these to our nearest market, so it can be carried by the agent to send it to Machakos or Nairobi. SFX Car stopping, door closing. Kadenge: We have just arrived at Mr Katumbo's farm. He grows all kinds of fruits but what you can see most as you enter his farm are the mango trees and as you shall discover he has more than five different varieties of mango trees that he grows here. Katumbo: I am Peter Mutisya Katumbo. I am a horticultural farmer. I grow a variety of mango fruits, oranges, tangerines, tomatoes and also some paw paws. Kadenge: Of all the crops that you have mentioned, what do you grow most? Katumbo: Mangoes. I've got about more than 10 mango varieties. Kadenge: OK. Let?s move closer to this heap of mangoes here. What are they doing here - why are they heaped here? Katumbo: We are going to ferry these to Nairobi for marketing. Kadenge: So why don?t we take a walk to the farm and then continue to discuss a little bit more about your mango farming? SFX Footsteps. Kadenge: So we are standing just next to one of the mango trees here that seems to be very, very heavy with fruit. Now this is what variety? Katumbo: This is called Kent. Kadenge: Now why did you decide to grow mangoes? Katumbo: I would say I was looking for a crop which can give good returns. This appears to be the only cash crop that can do well here. Kadenge: Are there any challenges that you face as you bring up these mango trees? Katumbo: Yeah there are all sorts of challenges. You find various diseases attacking the crop. Spraying of chemicals is very necessary. The required chemicals, for example fungicides. To export mangoes to Europe has become somewhat a big problem, because now we have newly-introduced conditions by EUREPGAP. Kadenge: Now what word would you have for somebody that is thinking of growing mangoes? Katumbo: I would like to tell him that growing mangoes should be taken seriously. It seems as though it is the only viable cash crop in this area. Kadenge: So thank you very much for taking us around your farm and we've enjoyed talking about the various fruits especially about mangoes. SFX Car stopping. Ndegwa: My name is Sarah Ndegwa, I am a specialist in horticulture, and I am doing extension work for the Machakos district. I give guidance on production and after production we link the farmers to the market. Kadenge: We have just visited two of the farmers you work with. One was a French bean farmer and the other one is this mango farmer. Let?s start with French beans. What are the conditions necessary for the cultivation of French beans? Ndegwa: Generally what is required in almost all of the crops is record keeping. Because you need to know: time of planting, time of spraying, and what chemicals you sprayed, the dosage, the quantity, source of seed, for example - where you bought the seed from. So the farmers have to record every step of their activity, and this also helps in the traceability and also the expected time of harvesting. Each crop has its own chemicals. We do give a spray programme for each crop. And the chemicals depend on the time, the stage of the product. Because let?s say you are harvesting: you need to use chemicals that have a short post harvest interval, like one day or two days. The same thing with mangoes. If you are harvesting, at harvesting stage we actually discourage spraying at harvesting stage for mangoes. So most of the chemicals for mangoes you start when they are flowering. Kadenge: One of the things that the two farmers have mentioned has been accessibility to the market and the exploitation by middlemen. Is this something that you are able to address, as a horticultural development agency? Ndegwa: We are working very hard on this because we have been helping the farmers on production and they have managed to do good quality produce. We have a list of exporters that we have approached, and local markets also. So we are trying to link them with the farmer. Like this mango farmer; we just brought an exporter to him and he bought his mangoes and he bought even from the farmers around here. He is able to collect from the farm and pay them on the farm. And the same case with the French bean farmers. We are linking them with a buyer. That way the middlemen issue is being tackled; but only for those farmers we are working with. Kadenge: But since these are high value crops, are you seeing a difference? Do they change the lives of the farmers here, who may not have been making much from the usual subsistence farming of maize and beans? Ndegwa: Over the four years that I have been in extension work I have seen horticultural farming making a difference in farmers? lives. They are able to pay their school fees and meet other small expenses, because they are doing their horticultural farming as a cash crop alongside their food crops. End of track.