French beans, Money growing on soil for Kabura

French beans, Money growing on soil for Kabura

When Jane Kabura began farming at Birika area along Isinya-Pipeline road, she was doing it to supplement food to St Paul’s       Children’s Home; an orphanage institution she runs in Ngong, Kajiado County.

Jane mainly majored in tomatoes and kales until she attended a one month agricultural course at Latia Resource Center that her eyes and mind opened up to the many opportunities that are present in the soil.

Six years down the line, she is happy that she found greener pastures in French beans cultivation; reaping handsomely from the crop. She quit tomatoes farming after encountering market uncertainties and exploitation by middlemen. Her 5acre piece of farm is an awesome sight of lush healthy beans at different stages of growth. The farm has been partitioned into quarter acre blocks which she plants one after another in interval of time ensuring she is in the supply of the commodity throughout the year.

“Upon completion of the Latia training, I carried out soil analysis and paid for consultancy with them for one full year. They also trained my two staff which was quite expensive, but am reaping the fruits. After deducting my expenses and the cost of running the farm, I reap about 200,000 from a quarter an acre,” she joyfully explained.

Her farm has been contracted by one of the major exporters in the country. “Contract farming is the best as I am guaranteed of ready market of my produce. The company supplies the seeds for planting as well as avails an agronomist who checks the progress of the beans on a weekly basis,” she narrated.

For one to be a successful farmer, one needs a good supply of clean water for irrigating crops. She has invested in a borehole where water is pumped by use of solar energy from the many solar panels erected on the farm. This enables her to cut on electricity bills. “I used to do drip irrigation but the water in this area is salty, once the water is dropping it retains some coatings aroud the hole thus clogging the holes where water is dropping,” she said.

She opines that for the crop to yield well, it should be well spaced. She has planted baby corns to act as wind breakers. “We have also adopted permculture, a process of inter growing various plants which act as insect repellants and the plants also replenish the soil with nutrients.One such plant we have planted is mabaki among others” she said

‘Mabaki’, or Comfrey (botanical name: Symphytum officinale), in Kenya the plant is also well known under the name knitbone, knitback, or local: (Mabaki, in Kikuyu).

She has also started farming herbs such as Mint, Rosemary, Mari gold among others.

French beans have a short cycle and matures within 45 days of planting. She harvests three times a week for three to five weeks.

“I use farm manure during planting. I mix DAP with manure when planting. CAN for top dressing is applied first at three leaf stage and a second application follows at the onset of flowering. Foliar feeds are also recommended to boost crop development and production. The choice of the fertilizer usually depends on soil fertility analysis which is usually determined by soil testing,” she said.

According to her, the first weeding of the crop should be done two to three weeks after they sprout, followed by a second weeding about two weeks after the first weeding. “When weeding, a lot of care should be taken to avoid damaging the shallow roots, especially during the first weeding. The crop should not be weeded at flowering time and when the field is wet to avoid shedding of flowers, and soil compaction,” she narrated.

Her advice to other farmers is to do their homework properly and carry out a lot of research on the crop to cultivate. “Visit other farmers, visit agricultural institutions and probably take up a short agricultural course. Farming is nice; it motivates you when you see the crops growing well knowing that this is money growing in the soil,” she concluded.

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