Financial analysis of production of French beans in Kenya (Phaseolus vulgaris)
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The purpose of this study was to analyze the production costs of French beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) and to assess the financial gain to farmers. The major growers in Kenya are small farmers. The French beans are grown mainly for export purpose and are produced largely near the city of Nairobi where the altitude is between 1 000 and 2 000 meters above sea level and where soil is well drained and rich in organic matter. French beans are among the major horticultural crops produced in Kenya for export. The export season of French beans is from November to April. The farmers visited used irrigation water for production. About 50 mm of water per week was applied using an overhead or furrow system of irrigation. The overhead system of irrigation, however, was comonly used. The farming of French beans is labor and capital intensive. The costing of the inputs such as fertilizers, seed, labor for land preparation and harvesting were estimated. Between 20 to 25 kg of seed per acre (49.4 – 61.8 kg/ha) was used, costing about Kshs 32 for 60 kgs; land preparation was about Kshs 500 per acre (Kshs 1 235.5/ ha). The price for fertilizer for one acre was Kshs 500 (Kshs 1 235.5/ha). The total variable cost was about Kshs 4 670 per acre (Kshs 11 539.6/ha). Gross margin per acre was 16 530 Kshs (Kshs 1 309.6/ha). The estimated labor input on large, mechanized farm for French beans amounts to 3 283 mh/ha. The harvesting, which include picking, selecting and packing approximately 1 300 cartons for export required the highest labor with 3 030 mh/ha; canning, 100 mh/ha; irrigation, 80 mh/ha with 20 applications; weeding, 35 mh/ha; spraying, 14 mh/ha; top dressing, 9 mh/ha and planting, 7 mh/ha. The average yield was between 600 to 1 000 cartons of 3 kg/acre (1 482.6 – 2 471.0 cartons/ha). The price at farm gate is Kshs 21 per carton of 3 kgs. Some of the small farmers had direct access to the export markets but the majority of them had to sell to the exporters. A good majority of the farmers estimated a profit of about 25 per cent but considered employment it provides for them and the rural people a very important benefit.