Name The Vegpro Kenya Trans-Nzoia Outgrowers
GGN 4056186848826
Country Kenya

Profile

The Vegpro Kenya Trans-Nzoia Outgrowers scheme is located in the rift valley province of Kenya, between the Nzoia River in the east and Mount Elgon in the south west. The offices are located a 5 km drive from Kitale’s central business district. The scheme was initiated in June 2015, with bean and pea production trials with Vegpro Kenya ensuring they were ready for market. As Trans-Nzoia is a predominantly grain-producing county and famously referred to as “the maize granary/bucket of the country”, it was a challenge to introduce bean production in addition to GLOBALG.A.P. certification for the export market. Traditionally, the production of beans is regarded as a woman’s crop while maize is seen as a man’s crop in this part of the country. This meant that bean production could only take place after the maize harvest or in small plots that were as small as one tenth of an acre. However, with the continued support of Vegpro Kenya, commercial production began in December 2015, with the first GLOBALG.A.P. certification being achieved in December 2016, with one hundred farmers primarily consisting of women and youths. The eight women and youth groups that came together to form the Vegpro K limited Trans-Nzoia Outgrowers scheme include Baraka youth, Chemoset, Chesubet, Greenlight, Matendo, Kikazi, Tugumo, and Geta rabbit keepers.
The region receives an average annual amount of rainfall between 1000 and 1200 mm and has maximum and minimum temperatures ranging from 10 °C to 27 °C. This makes maize production a predominant economic activity with both large and small scale farmers dealing with the same crop.

 

Achievements

Economic empowerment of women and youths
Both large and small scale farming (from a ¼ of an acre to 500 acres) in this part of the country is dominated by men in maize production, which takes between 4 and 7 months to maturity. This means that women and youths are left with 3-5 months in which they can lease the land for the production and marketing of their products, since most agricultural products are perishable. Beans, garden peas, sugar snap, and mange tout production with the respective GLOBALG.A.P. certification provided the right tools to be able to access EU and UK markets though Vegpro Kenya Limited.
To break even in maize production, one needs a minimum of 20 acres, which 90 % of the people in this region do not have. An acre of maize yields approximately 25 bags of 90 kg selling at KES 1500 per bag, which translates into a total of KES 37,500 in 5 months on average. On the other hand, an acre of beans yields 3.5 tons of beans selling at KES 40 per kg, which translates into KES 140,000 in 3 to 4 months. This actually forced many men to swallow their pride, especially those who own less than one to 5 acres, and got them to venture into the farming of mange touts, beans, and garden peas. The economic turnaround of the group was even featured in one of the local dailies (Daily Nation – export crop lures small-scale farmers from maize, dated 12/05/2017). The women and youth groups are now economically empowered as they are able to lease even larger plots of land all year round, thus greatly improving their living standards.

Soil and water conservation
The group members now have a crop which they can use for rotational purposes, thus maximizing land usage instead of leaving fields fallow as was the case in the past. There has also been a reduced application of nitrogenous fertilizer on maize, as green beans and peas are intensively grown and soil tests have shown an increase in nitrogenous nutrients.
Providing alternative rotational crops has reduced pressure on the soils and largely broken the cycle of fall army worms and lethal necrosis disease, both of which are currently a menace to maize farmers.
Since most bean and pea farming is carried out off-season, it requires a method of planting in which a basin is made in the soil and beans and peas are planted on the edges. The basin is then filled with water, which supports the crop for at least one week without further water application. This has greatly reduced water usage for irrigation.

Hygiene/health and safety aspects
Intensive and extensive training activities have taken place to ensure farmers work and live in safe and hygienic conditions and at the same time produce safe, legal, and high-quality products. After completing their training, the group members now see the sense of ensuring a clean environment and taking note of personal hygiene issues, which were previously disregarded. In particular, hand-washing activities are now being taken seriously.
Plant protection products were previously stored in homes where they posed a danger to households. However, since completing their training, farmers have built designated chemical storage areas in which they keep all the plant protection products. Chemical application is now carried out by well-trained personnel who understand the dangers involved in using plant protection products and are well protected to ensure they are safe.
Purpose-built charcoal coolers, to remove field heat, have been built to ensure the safe storage of harvested produce on the field before collection. The charcoal coolers have thus greatly reduced losses that were previously experienced through high temperatures.