Where peas farmers earn in abundance from the soil
“To grow the peas, I prepare the farm by ploughing first and then harrowing to make the soil finer. The spacing from one row to another is 2.5 feet while from one hole to another is three inches. After planting, I cover the seed with little soil,” Majau says, adding that he uses DAP fertiliser applied at a ratio of 5kg per a kilo of seeds and properly mixes it with the soil.
Irrigation is done carefully to prevent waterlogging while the seeds start germinating after two weeks, the stage at which the plant is sprayed with pesticides. Weeding starts a month later and he also applies CAN fertiliser to prepare it for flowering.
“Peas is a very delicate crop and has to be taken care of properly, therefore, spraying is a must to control pest attack. Snap peas are usually thicker and broader than snow peas, and they have to be staked after 45 days,” says the farmer, who is among those contracted by Vegpro Kenya Limited, which exports fresh produce and cut flowers. The company supplies farmers with certified seeds.
With prices of the peas ranging from Sh60 to Sh100 a kilo, a farmer can take home more than Sh600,000 from 6,000 kilos per acre. However, Majau says the highest he has ever earned from an acre was Sh530,000, some two years ago.
“At times prices rise to Sh150 a kilo, but this is a very sensitive crop because in the past I have harvested crop that is less than Sh30,000 from an acre yet I had spent over Sh70,000,” says the father of three, who has, however, built a good house and owns a lorry that he uses to transport produce, all proceeds from his farm.
According to him, with proper management and timing, peas are a lucrative crop as compared to carrots or potatoes. From an acre of carrots, he harvests crops worth Sh200,000 while for potatoes it drops to Sh160,000 with a production cost of about Sh50,000 for both crops.
He says they ask farmers to visit their offices with a copy of the contract, after which they also invite an official of the contracting company and involve the Horticultural Crops Development Authority so that the contract is binding and to ensure the grower is protected.
“There are some hidden clauses that farmers should be aware of especially in regard to quality. Sometimes when there is a glut in the market, the buyers introduce stringent quality checks with the intention of rejecting some of the produce,” says Mr Muruatetu.
He notes that for peas, they advise the farmers not to sell their produce at less than Sh50 per kilo since they would go at a loss because the cost of production is high.