French beans (mishiris)are one of the crops dominating Kenya’s export market with a low local consumption rate. Production of these mishiris is primarily done in warm areas such as Machakos, Thika, Murang’a, Kirinyaga, Naivasha, Nyeri and Embu with the common varieties in the Kenyan market being Amy, Teresa,Samantha, Serengeti Julia and Paulista.
A major outlet for these French beans is the European Union market. And with their weather patterns, the export market in Kenya falls into two major seasons:
The low demand season This runs mostly from June to September every year. It is characterized by lots of supply from those who produce with the long rains and low demand from the EU market as they can produce their own by then. The results from this scenario is one every risk averse farmer should really avoid. The prices are usually low ranging from Ksh 20 to 50 per kg or simply fail to get any market for your produce. This is likely because of the rejections which are part of the menu in this industry. Also, there are a lot of quota issues where companies can choose to buy a certain amount from you leaving you with lots of French beans to feed on.
The high demand season. This usually runs from September to around March. During this period, EU markets are faced with winter and their only option is to import and that is when Kenyan farmers find a gold mine. The major supply during this period is mainly from irrigation hence the supply is typically low. Prices range from Ksh 60 to 80 per kg. If things go south like in 2012 when there was a frost effect, farmers who survived it sold a kilo at Ksh 250. The export companies were looking for them like the Malaysian plane.