Baby corn, French beans, snow peas, pigeon peas and bullet chilli were once not too familiar among Kenyan small-scale farmers; they were mainly grown by large growers for export. The crops are grown under stringent conditions that the export market demands and thus, only the large growers had the capacity to do so and export directly in the past.
But this is not the case anymore as over the years, an increasing number of small-scale Kenyan farmers, including those in villages, have embraced the crops and are exporting them through agents. It is lucrative business that is picking up fast among smallholder farmers in the east African nation, after many of them were frustrated by crops like maize.
In Meru County, central Kenya, Joseph Majau is one of the farmers growing a variety of peas that include snow, garden and pigeon peas for export: "I have been doing it for over seven years and it is a profitable business compared to growing crops for the local market.”
The price of the peas ranges between US$0.60 - 1 .00 per a kilo, with the farmer growing the crops on two acres and at any time taking home up to 6,000 dollars in a good season.
Tugumo Group in Cherangany in western Kenya grows French beans for the export market. Leader Joshua Etyang' said they started the venture in 2017 after being trained and contracted by exporting firm VegPro.
Xinhuanet.com reports how the east African nation earned 1.5 billion dollars from horticulture exports in 2018, a 33 percent rise from 2017, according to the ministry of agriculture. Of the figure, vegetables contributed 280 million dollars.