More than 80 farmers from Bahati constituency in Nakuru county are reaping big benefits from growing chives, a herb that belongs to the onion family.
There is growing demand for the vegetable internationally with a kilo fetching up to Sh600. Bahati farmers, who traditionally farmed maize and beans, have now become net exporters of chives after vegetable seed company Premier Seeds Limited introduced them to the crop.
Through a group model, farmers have been able to own greenhouses on credit through a partnership between Premier Seeds and Chase Bank.
The arrangement allows farmers to repay the loan from the proceeds of chives at favourable terms that are agreed upon between the financier and individual farmers.
Farmers make a 10 per cent deposit before the construction of the greenhouses as commitment to the project.
Premier seeds works with the farmers through supply of the certified chive seeds, training the farmers on good agricultural practices, building their greenhouses and linking them to ready markets.
“Most of the farmers have not practiced greenhouse farming before and are growing a crop that requires observance of good agricultural practices and traceability.
We have, therefore, had to do training on every aspect of farming to ensure that the farmers’ produce are compliant with the export market,” said Premier Seeds founder Simon Andys.
Such practices include having a tracking sheet at the entrance of each greenhouse that allows farmers to record the timing of key activities in the greenhouse, including the time of spraying and irrigation.