Jedidah Wacera King’ori may not be a household name, but the IT graduate turned farmer is quickly making a name for herself as a French beans farmer in Isinya, Kajiado County.
Like any other story, hers is one of ‘from rags-to-riches’ story punctuated by sheer hard-work, resilience and determination.
Jedidah Wacera says she started her IT career at the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries in 2009 after graduating with a diploma in Information Technologies from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology commonly abbreviated as (JKUAT).
In May 2018, Wacera says the desire to quit formal employment and be her own boss was growing day by day and she couldn’t resist the urge.
She quit to venture into the unknown world of farming.
Earning a paltry Sh18,000 per month at the ministry, Wacera knew failure in her new venture was not an option.
Armed with Sh180,000 capital from her savings and loans from friends and family, Wacera established Tail Fin Enterprises and ventured into French beans farming in her rural home, Makuyu in Murang’a county.
For someone starting from scratch, and with no enough capital since lenders were not willing to advance her credit, Wacera says it was not an easy venture and contemplated quiting at some point.
“It was not easy at first. I remember I was not able to access money from banks”, she says as she reminisces.
Today, Wacera among the leading exporters of French beans courtesy of her 15-acre piece of land in Kajiado, a journey she says has not been easy.
Tail Fin Enterprises exports French beans to markets in United Arab Emirates. Her main challenge has been accessing US and EU markets.
The EU for instance has since introduced stricter measures on Kenyan beans as it seeks to tightens checks on residue levels among other parameters — a move that has made accessing this market even harder.
With these measures, beans from Kenya will be subjected to a 10 per cent mandatory sampling.
The doubling of sampling rate from 5 per cent previously, is expected to adversely hit farmers and make EU market more expensive to access.
On the same land, she is also farms onions, butternuts, and cabbages which she sells locally.
Wacera has employeed 3 permanent staff and 20 casual labourers on the farm.
She says the minimum size of land you can use to grow French beans is 1 acre although she recommends 3 acres for a start.
An acre under the beans according to her can yield about 4.5-5 tonnes which she sells at Sh 80-100 per kg for local market and Sh450-Sh 500 per kilogramme if exported..
“With French beans, you have to plant every other week and it matures at between 45 and 50 days,” she says.
In a good month, she rakes in between Sh300, 000 and Sh350, 000 in profit.
In the next 5 years, Wacera expects to extend the area of land under French beans.