French bean farming in Kenya is widespread, especially in warm-wet regions such as Thika, Machakos, Uasin Gishu, Kisumu, Narok, Nyeri, parts of Kajiado county, Western Kenya, Naivasha, Murang’a, and lastly, Kirinyaga.
French beans are high-yielding and can be very profitable depending on the area of cultivation (hillside or lowland) and soil type (clay, sandy clay loam, red soils).
Scientifically known as Phaseolus vulgaris, french beans are generally grown in regions with well-drained soils and rainfall ranging from 900mm to 1200mm per annum. On the other hand, french beans thrive well in dry areas under irrigation.
French Bean Farming in Kenya
Even though the crop has a low consumption rate locally, farmers can make more money by growing and exporting the produce to European markets.
You can achieve this through companies that are specialized in exporting agricultural products. Keep reading, and we’ll show some of the export outlets available in Kenya.
But before we look at the export market, let us look at some of the French bean varieties in Kenya.
French Beans Varieties in Kenya.
The French bean variety typically depends on soil type, maturity period required by farmers, resistance to pests and diseases, plant yield, and quality.
Hence the need for farmers to treat their seeds first to protect them from soil-borne diseases such as Rhizoctonia, Fusarium, and Pythium.
The standard varieties of French beans in Kenya.
The Fresh Market Variety includes;
The Processing French bean variety comprises;
- And lastly,
French Beans Varieties in Kenya – Other types include
As earlier stated, french bean farming requires warm and sunny weather during the peak growing season, but the crop is also tolerant to cold depending on the variety.
Beans are generally grown in well-drained soils and rainfall ranging from 900mm to 1200mm per annum.
French bean farming is thriving in rich soils(with plenty of organic matter) with a slightly acidic to alkaline pH of 6.5-7.5 at the optimal growing temperature of 14-32°C, depending on the variety.
French Bean seeds are planted at a depth of 2 – 3 inches, with 10-14 inch spacing between rows and 15-18 inch spacing within the row.
Farmers should ensure the seeds are not planted on dry, shallow, or exposed soils.
French beans require a lot of water during the growing season, especially during the flowering and pod development stages (10 liters/plant daily). French bean seeds may also be planted in hills or as a broadcast.
It is important to note that French beans are also susceptible to waterlogging, and the plants should be grown on raised beds with good drainage with constantly flowing water through the French beans field site (4x4m for every 25 meters of French bean row)
Fertilizer Application and Weeding
It is best practice to apply Di-ammonium Phosphate (DAP) to provide Phosphate to the plant before planting and then top it off with Calcium Ammonium Nitrate (CAN) twice (for nitrogen) once the crop has produced three leaves and again at flowering.
French bean farming in Kenya – The best time to plant
The average maturity period of French beans is 45-60 days. Thus with a scheduled planting, you can ensure that the crop is always ready between October to mid-December and from mid-January to the end of May. Do your maths.
However, if you live in a warm area, start planting from mid-August to mid-October, then grow again early in December. Easy, ha?
French Bean Farming in Kenya- Harvesting
With an average yield of 3,000 – 6,000kg per acre, french beans are harvested before the pods are fully mature, usually between 42 and 56 days after planting and up to 2 months after the first harvest.
In addition to the above, and for you as a farmer to maintain high export quality, french beans should be picked at regular intervals, ideally three times per week. French bean flowers and young green French Bean pods are also selected to be sold as fresh.
Now, let us talk about the section that has kept you here for this long, Marketing. It is important to note that French beans are in high demand all year round. And with the right market, you are sorted for life.
You can start selling to supermarkets, export companies, and even the hotel and catering industry (HORECA).
The good news is that some of these clients will come looking for you as they know the quality of French beans from Kenya. And if you want to increase your sales, you can also read about the success story of how this farmer secured the French bean export market.
French bean farming in Kenya is a great way to ensure a constant supply of this highly demanded vegetable. With the right market, you can make a good profit from your crop. French beans are relatively easy to grow and only require some basic knowledge of farming practices.