Competitiveness of smallholder snap Bean production in Kirinyaga county, Kenya
Past studies have indicated that trade in snap beans is highly profitable. However, there is limited information on costs and how value added benefits are shared by value chain participants. The objective of this study is to assess the competitiveness of small farmers of snap beans and to assess how the value-added benefits are shared by various participants of the snap bean value chain in Kirinyaga County. A random sample of 139 farmers consumers were interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire. Focus group discussions and key informant interviews were also conducted with 10 brokers, 5 transporters, 5 exporters, 5 supermarket stores, 2 processors, 10 local vendors and 100 consumers. The value chain analysis software developed by FAO was used for financial analysis to capture the share of value added by each chain participant. One-way ANOVA tests were conducted to compare the mean value added between the actors in each channel and to determine if any of those means are significantly different. Levene’s Test of Homogeneity of Variances was used to test for the suitability of using ANOVA analysis in this study. Four main marketing channels were identified that comprised domestic (formal and informal markets) and export channels. Results indicate that no major value addition involving change of form was done by the players at any level. The existence of formal domestic channels shows that production and marketing of snap beans that targets the domestic market can be increased. Farmers had the lowest share of value added among the chain participants. In the formal domestic channel farmers had a value added share of 15.6% compared with 16.3% for brokers, 30.5% for retailers and 37.6% for processor, respectively. The mean value added for the chain actors were statistically significantly different in all the four channels. Multiple comparisons using Tukey post-hoc test further showed that all means, except between farmers and brokers, were different. Shorter chains where brokers were excluded provided farmers higher benefits than longer chains. In spite of this lower share of value added by farmers, the study finds that the small farmers were still competitive and that the entire chain was profitable in all the four channels that were analyzed. The study recommends that while the Government should have policy interventions that seek to reduce the number of market intermediaries in the chains, farmers should also consider venturing into value addition practices such as trimming and packaging their beans for the local supermarkets. It further recommends that farmers should sell through exporters as this channel offers them more benefits. The results would provide exporters, researchers and government officials with additional information in formulating policies which will enhance export competitiveness of Kenya’s smallholder snap beans production.