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    By George Munene

    Lagran Group Limited is looking for farmers to supply herbs and fruits as well as opening its books to contract chilli, garlic and ginger farmers for the export market.

    “We are looking to enlist the first group of outgrower farmers by the end of December and will be running another recruitment phase at the start of March next year,” says Carol Chelegat, Managing Director, Lagran Group.

    For its outgrower program, the Kiambu road-based agricultural company offers farmers within the East Africa region (Kenya and Tanzania) a ready market for horticultural crops for the export market. The farmer needs to have at least one acre of land and a reliable source of water. The company is currently seeking out chili, ginger and garlic contract farmers. The farmers will be assigned an agronomist to guide them on the best agronomical practices until their produce matures. Once they are ready to harvest the farmer notifies Lagran, their crop is picked and they are paid 30 days later.

    Related News: Herbs and spices marketer looking for chilli out-growers to meet local demand

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    Additional extension services offered to contract farmers are:

    • Technical Support
    • Ways to market horticulture produce
    • Setting up irrigation systems
    • Produce Value Addition

    The company is also currently seeking farmers who can supply:

    • Dried African birds eye chili
    • Fresh red birds eye chilli varieties like demon f1
    • Bullet chili (short)
    • Fresh garlic, grade AAA
    • Fresh ginger and turmeric
    • Passion fruit (purple and yellow)
    • Mountain pawpaw (at least 1.5 kg per fruit)
    • Habanero red and yellow
    • Hass avocado, size 16 to 22

    Related News: Exporter chases any Kenyan Aloe Vera, for foreign buyers

    There is no minimum quantity a farmer can deliver but they will need to provide samples of their produce for testing and have an agronomist visit their farm to ensure their crop meets the required agronomic standards.

    Lagran Group: +254728201058/+254706419244

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    By George Munene

    Topz Rabbits is seeking out rabbit farmers from across the country to help meet the ballooning appetite for the tasty low in calorie and saturated fats white rabbit meat. Currently selling 100 kilograms of raw meat daily—up to one tonne in two weeks—James Mugoh, the company’s head of sales and logistics, says these numbers are still too low, and in an effort to bolster their supplies they are looking to obtain rabbits from across the country as they also work to recruit rabbit farmers.

    Topz which has been in the rabbit business for six years now has embarked on a farmer contracting program of up to 2000 rabbit farmers, a move the company hopes will ensure its abattoirs have a steady supply of meat. “We have had some farmers express interest in partnering with us, but we would love to have even more of them visiting our offices and coming on board,” Mugoh says.

    Related News: Farmer harnesses rabbit urine for compost, fertiliser and pest control

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    The company headquartered at Rosters, Garden Estate in Nairobi, collects a minimum of 50 rabbits from farmers within Nairobi and 80 rabbits from those in other counties. Rabbit keepers with numbers less than that have to transport them to the firm's premises themselves. The buying price per kilogram dressed weight is Sh450 and Sh225 for the live weight.

    “We would like to delve into value addition in the form of sausage and samosas, but at current supply rates, we have to sell all our meat raw— with which we are still well short of meeting the market’s demand for,” James explains.

    Related News: Fact Sheet: Best rabbit varieties for meat breeding in Kenya – Part 2

    In Makuyu, Muranga County, the company runs its own rabbit farm rearing rabbits for slaughter as well as hosting farmers looking to learn the ropes on rabbit farming at a charge of Sh1000 per head. Everything related to rabbit rearing—cages, feeders, watering systems, rabbit medicines are available for purchase by farmers. The company also has a rabbit veterinarian available to farmers its farmers.

    Topz Rabbits: 0723301507/0701735183

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    By George Munene

    Steven Mwanzia of Stephen's Natural Foods, is seeking outgrowers who can provide him a reliable supply of organically farmed yellow and red maize, wild berries, traditional vegetables and edible weeds.

    After 10 years in the indigenous foods space juggling teaching, production and value addition, Steven plans to outsource production to farmers and major on value addition.

    Steven currently has 25 outgrowers spread out across the country.

    For traditional yellow and red maize he is working with farmers in Kitale, Malindi and Ukamabani to meet at least 100 maize bags monthly which he sells directly to consumers, grounds into flour or fortifies with sorghum and cassava used in the making of fermented porridge. Whilst farmgate prices of a kilo of maize hit a two year low of Sh1700 for a 90 kg bag in October of this year, he buys from his farmers at a constant price of Sh4500, a kilo going for Sh60. “You won’t find fairer prices anywhere in the market. Consumers are willing to pay a premium for organically sourced indigenous produce –this helps to keep the farmers I have well-remunerated and motivated”   

    Related News: Vihiga County recruiting farmers to grow traditional vegetables for Carrefour

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    He also provides farmers with a ready market for wild berries such as gooseberries and golden berries. He needs at least 40 kg of berries daily, enough for making 70 bottles of 750 milliliters wine. They are also repurposed into jam, juice, jelly and powder. Golden berries can produce 15 kilograms of fruit over two years with a three-month dormancy window. A farmer can harvest up to 20 tons from an acre of berries. For a kilogram of berries Steven pays Sh200.     

    Stephen is also sourcing for farmers who can grow and supply edible weeds and traditional vegetables such as dock plant, broadleaf plantain and dandelions.

    “My clients place faith in me to source for pesticide and fertilizer free produce, as I am not at every farm watching over all the agronomic practices of a farmer, I have had to build trust with the stable of farmers I work with over time,” says Steven.  

    The 33 year old confesses to have never seen inside gates of a secondary school but in his passion to reintegrate indigenous African foods into our everyday diets, he has found his life’s work. This has seen the self-taught traditional foods researcher transverse the globe featuring as a guest lecturer at Rwandan Kigali and Ruhengeri universities. He has also consulted with KALRO’s African leafy vegetables program and worked with USAID’s Youth agripreneur and Forgotten fruits and crops programs.

    Related News: Siaya group excel in collective marketing of traditional vegetables

    As his five year lease on his current 16 acre farm at Tigoni expires, Stephen plans on downsizing to a smaller two acres in January. “It is impractical to be a farmer, and have adequate time to focus on research, consultancy and value addition,” he explains.

    “The quantities we are currently working at are nowhere near enough to meet the ballooning demand for our products,” Stephen says. Though he is strategizes on getting the Stephen's Natural Foods brand atop supermarket shelves— as with food— he believes in organic expansion: “No NGO or government-supported my business; I have pushed myself to get where I am.

    Stephen's Natural Foods: +254 790 279330

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