Key lessons from 40 years of growing crop
Meshack Nyambane started farming as soon as he completed his secondary education, four decades ago and has never looked back.
The 67-year-old father of nine is a successful farmer at Nyabiosi village in Nyaribari Chache Constituency, Kisii County, harvesting up to 30 bags of beans a year from the three planting seasons.
Nyambane says he sells his beans for up to Sh10,000 a bag when demand is high and Sh8,000 a bag when demand is low with most of it sold in the nearby Keroka Town. However, some dealers prefer to buy directly from his farm.
“Bean farming is one of the easiest to do. I have seen many farmers opting to plant it with other crops like maize, sugarcane, and bananas making sure that they have utilised their farms to maximise on the profits they get and they have never been disappointed,” says Nyambane.
He also supplies beans to nearby schools and hotels among other facilities and he says he has never struggled to find a ready market for his crop nor has he ever felt any pressure to dispose of his harvest at a throwaway price.
Nyambane says planting crops like beans are easy because they can be preserved for a long time hence farmers are forced to lower prices in a bid to dispose of them, unlike perishable crops which have to be sold at very low prices to lessen losses.
Focus is Key
He encourages fellow farmers to embrace bean farming since they can always keep their produce until the market prices are good and then sell them.
“Currently, I have planted various beans varieties on a two-acre parcel of land and I expect a bounty harvest in the first season of the year. With the profit I get, I will use it to pay school fees for my last three children in secondary school,” says Nyambane.
He recalls January 2015 to March 2015 and January 2018 to March 2018 seasons as some of the worst seasons in his farming journey with lack of rain experienced in the Gusii region leading to huge losses.
Nyambane says bean farming has enabled him to educate his children with some already employed. He argues that he could not have managed the same feat had he kept his focus on other crop farming and dairy farming.
He considers farming a full-time job saying that one thing he likes about it is that he is self-employed and decides the programme of his day-to-day activities unlike working for another person.
“Bean farming is a lucrative activity for most farmers in the Gusii region bearing in mind that many residents have small farms but we mix it with the planting of other crops enabling us to take care of our family’s needs,” he says.
Good and bad days
He plans to use the proceeds from his farming project to acquire more grade cattle, noting that with old age catching up with him, he may not manage his farms as he used to in the past as most of his children are engaged in other activities.
Nyambane says the greatest lesson he has learnt from bean farming is that there is always a high and a low season and a time to make profits and at times there are losses incurred depending on how the crop fared in a particular season.
“One thing I have learnt in farming is to never lose hope. Always be ready to get back on your feet after suffering losses. Farming always has good and bad times with the best times superseding the bad ones,” he says.