French bean farming is a lucrative venture that is slowly gaining the attention of many farmers. The consumption in the international markets, especially in Europe has been increasing rapidly over the years. Since the production is relatively low to satisfy the rising demand, the European Union is only left with an option to import. To succeed in the lucrative French bean farming venture, the following tips should be considered:
Use contract French bean farming
Understand and selling in the export markets can be difficult and expensive. The local consumption of French beans (mishiri) is relatively low in Kenya. Before investing in mishiri, it’s important to secure a contract with export companies to get your produce to the export market, get market advice, and obtain agronomy support from the experts. Contract farming assures farmers that they will have a market for their French beans.
Before getting into contract farming, it’s important to understand the crop varieties, agri-chemicals, and packaging methods that the company requires. Some of the companies that sign contracts with French bean farmers include
- Everest Enterprises
- Finlays Flamingo Horticulture Kenya Ltd
- Kenya Horticultural Exports Ltd (KHE)
- VegPro Ltd
- Keitt Exporters Ltd
- KenyaFresh Produce Exporters Ltd
- Wamu Enterprises
- Everfresh Produce Ltd
Select the best variety for your region
There is a wide range of varieties that flourish in Kenya which include Boston, Serengeti, Vanilla, Teresa, Star, Seagull, Samantha, Tiezo, Pekera, Buffalo, Julia, Gloria, Paulista, Rexas, Espadia, Moonstone, and Picasso.
The growth requirements for French beans vary depending on the variety. For instance, the water requirements for different varieties vary. Varieties such as Vanilla require a lot of water and perform best during the rainy season. Other varieties like Serengeti, Boston, and Star flourish in both the dry and the rainy seasons. Before investing in French bean farming, it’s important to understand the ecological requirements of the variety you want to plant and the climatic conditions, soil properties, and water availability in your region. To succeed in French bean farming, adequate water supply, and well-drained soils are required.
Besides, the varieties produce different categories of French beans. For instance, Vanilla and Serengeti are good varieties for “fine pods” while Star and Boston are good for “extra fine pods” and “bobby beans”.
In Kenya, French beans perform best in Nyeri, Murang’a, Thika, Narok, Uasin Gishu, Meru, Kirinyaga, Western Kenya, Nakuru, various parts of Kajiado, Laikipia, Machakos, Kibwezi, and Naivasha.
Target the seasons when the demand is high
The European Union provides the largest market for French beans. To enjoy the profitability of French beans, it’s important to understand the two seasons in the export market. The high-demand season runs from early October to late April. The prices are at the peak in March to early May since the production and supply are relatively low due to the effects of the heavy rains especially the high rates of diseases such as anthracnose. Besides, the EU markets face winter during this period forcing them to import large volumes.
The high demand and low supply make the prices hike to even Ksh 150 per kilo. The low-demand season runs from June to late September. At this time, Europe can produce French beans hence only export small volumes. Besides, the supply from farmers producing with the long rains exceeds the demand which makes the prices plummet to even Ksh 30 per kilo.
Adhere to the quality and phytosanitary regulations
Farmers are required to maintain the export quality of French beans, adhere to phytosanitary requirements, regulate their pesticide use, and adhere to the regulations by EuroGAp, GlobalGAP, KEPHIS, and other regulatory bodies.