Kenyan bean farmers thrive with support from Farm Africa

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Farm Africa

Premium Supplier 20th February 2019

Kenyan bean farmers thrive with support from Farm Africa

On an unbelievably steep hillside in the beautiful rolling hills of Elgeyo Marakwet in western Kenya, mother of seven Lucy Marani proudly shows off the neat rows of French bean plants that have transformed her family’s life.

While visitors struggle to keep their balance due to the incline, Lucy is steady on her feet and steady in her conviction that the new business approach she is taking to farming will continue to grow a brighter future for herself and her children.

Fittingly dressed in an elegant jacket that wouldn’t look out of place in a boardroom, Lucy explained that her family’s finances are secure for the first time since she started following a structured business plan on growing and marketing vegetables that are in high demand. Lucy commented:

“Before I grew green beans here, I grew a local variety of garden peas to sell to local markets. I farmed, but didn’t look for a market until the crops were ready. There were so many peas on the market. By the time I found a buyer, the crops would have rotten and we would make losses.”

Now, her story is very different. Lucy only plants crops that she knows in advance she has a buyer for. Lucy is receiving support from the charity Farm Africa as a part of an extension to the organisation’s Growing Futures project, which was made possible by matched funding received from the UK Government, who matched donations made to the charity’s Growing Futures appeal.

The appeal, which ran from October 2017 to January 2018, raised a total of £410,000, enough to help a total of 2,000 farmers in Elgeyo Marakwet set up profitable horticulture businesses.

The project helps farmers escape poverty by growing and selling a variety of vegetables such as French beans, garden peas, mange touts, tomatoes and cabbages and working together in groups to develop business plans and sell their aggregated produce in bulk.

Lucy commented: “I have learnt from Farm Africa to manage my money. I have learnt about book-keeping, financial literacy, leadership, good governance and marketing. We have learnt from Farm Africa that you have to first find a market before you start to plant beans.”

The new approach has translated into a higher and more consistent income for her family, which is greatly benefiting her children, who are now able to attend school regularly. Lucy continued: “The project has changed my life. It has helped me educate my children: I can now pay their school fees.”

Lucy’s success has inspired her two oldest sons, Davis, aged 19, and Felix, aged 21, to also take part in the project. Davis and Felix are typical of participants in the project, whose core target group is young people aged between 18 and 35. The project aims to enable young people to create their own thriving careers in a market where job opportunities are few and far between.

The chefs Ashley Palmer-Watts and Dennis Mwakulua visited the Growing Futures project in 2017 while in Kenya for Nairobi Restaurant Week. Dennis commented: “Farming can be a way for young people to earn a good living and support their family. People don’t see what Farm Africa does. It does a lot! Especially empowering the youth to see that farming is a good way to make a living.”

There are millions more small-scale farmers across eastern Africa in need of support. That’s why Farm Africa has just launched its Coffee is Life appeal, which is raising funds to help more farming families across eastern Africa grow more, sell more and sell for more.

Coffee is Life appeal
Give before 8 May 2019 and donations to the appeal will be matched by the UK government. Your donation will support Farm Africa projects across eastern Africa, and the matched funding you unlock from the UK government will directly fund a Farm Africa project that will give women in Kanungu in western Uganda the opportunity to make a decent living from coffee farming.

You can donate and give farmers in Africa the opportunity to thrive at or by calling 020 7430 0440, lines are open 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.