Snow peas the new cash cow crop for Njoroge a renown Runner Beans’ Farmer

Snow peas the new cash cow crop for Njoroge a renown Runner Beans’ Farmer

John Njoroge Mwaniki is an agricultural whiz; he is one type of a farmer who loves venturing into crops which many refer to as difficult to farm. He began farming close to 2 decades ago mainly growing vegetables for the local market. His farming adventures led him to Timau, Meru County where he met a snow peas farmer and was impressed by the superior export prices the crop was fetching. Later on he joined the bandwagon but due to the cold weather in his rural home near Kimende, Kiambu County and challenges of frost, he gave it a pause and concentrated on runner beans.

He is now back to snow peas farming with a bang, growing 17 acres of the crop, though he is still farming runner beans which he considers as goldmine. After learning vital agricultural lessons, he opted to growing snow peas in tunnels constructed to a length of 75 meters to prevent frost effect and pests attacks.

Tunnel farming involves constructing tunnels like greenhouses structures swathed in plastic heavy gauge polythene that serve as cocoons. The idea of tunnel farming is to shield the crop from hash elements of weather while increasing production window to all season.
Snow peas are climbing plants and members of the legume family. Other plants crops in this family are Sugar snaps and Garden peas. Garden peas fondly referred to as minji and are the most commonly consumed in Kenya though there is a variety for export.

The pods are flat with very small peas inside; the whole pod is edible although the tough ‘strings’ along the edges are usually removed. Snow peas are mildly flavored and can be served raw or as cooked, delicious stir fries.
They are ready for harvesting after two months. They grow well on all types of soils but preferably well drained sandy loam soils. The soil should be rich with organic matters as it enhances better growth by supplying nutrients at a slower rate. They do not thrive in highly acidic or alkaline soils or saline soils.

“My farm is known as Muhungu farm, and I grow high end produce for export purposes. I grow two varieties of runner beans White Emago and Equatorial and also I grow the best snow peas varieties for Kenya; Oregon Sugar Pod II, Sweet Horizon or Snow Wind,” Njoroge explained.

Snow peas require to be supported; this is done after the tendrils appear during the vegetative stage. Knitting thread or manila thread is tied to the vine in a crisscrossing manner and fastened on supporting wire. Proper weeding and pest management is important to ensure that they are not competing for nutrients or getting affected because they are heavy feeders. To break pests and disease build up in the soils, they require to be crop rotated with cabbages or other crops of different family, rich in iron.

He uses cabbages to enrich the soil. “When I grow the cabbages for crop rotation my main purpose is to treat the soil not to sell. I have invested in a machine called porter or field king chaffer which I use to slice the cabbages into small pieces, thoroughly mixing the slices with soil and as they decompose they replenish the soil with the much required nutrients,” he elucidated.

As he continues to scale the heights in the agricultural world, Mr. Njoroge has been re-investing in buying land to increase his farming acreages. Njoroge is a revered farmer and has mentored many into farming while attracting the ears of vegetable exporting companies who usually pay him a visit to get a glimpse of what he is cultivating.

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