In Summary
  • The agreement dictated that the company would be buying 40 tonnes of bananas per month at Sh21 per kilogramme.
  • But things took a turn for the worse in January when the company scaled down its purchases, buying at most five tonnes.
  • Twiga Foods said that they have reduced the tonnage they collect from farmers as they are upgrading their cold storage facilities.
  • The firm is working with 1,700 farmers in Kirinyaga, who are part of a network of 14,000 spread in 20 counties.

Jean Munene from Kanyekini ward in Kirinyaga County has been a banana farmer for the past seven years.

On her six-acre farm which hosts 2,000 plants, huge banana stems stand heavy with fruits.

The retired teacher grows four varieties of bananas namely the Fhia-17, Williams, Grand Nain and Plantain, with every hole holding a maximum of four plants.

Last year, Jean and 104 other banana farmers in Kirinyaga considered themselves lucky after an agro-processor, Twiga Foods, started buying their produce after signing a contract with the growers.

The agreement dictated that the company would be buying 40 tonnes of bananas per month at Sh21 per kilogramme.

The group was also to receive tips on growing the fruit and managing diseases and pests.

In the past one year, Jean and other members of Ramiini Banana Growers, where she is the secretary, enjoyed good returns enabling several farmers to increase the acreage under bananas.

But things took a turn for the worse in January when the company scaled down its purchases, buying at most five tonnes.

Farmers are now stuck with overgrown bananas, some that are rotting on the farm while others are being fed to domestic animals.

“We feel shortchanged. We have nowhere to take our bananas because we have a contract with the buyer who is also buying from some non-contracted farmers at a lower price,” she notes.

Twiga Foods said that they have reduced the tonnage they collect from farmers as they are upgrading their cold storage facilities.

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