Beans Farming in Narok; Lessons on Planting, Weeding and Pest Control

I will give you a very brief description of the lessons we learnt on planting weeding and pest control because. Take them very seriously. This phase of crop cultivation is what really determines whether you will reap bountifully or not.

  • By all means, select your seeds well. Seek help from available agricultural institutions/practitioners if you aren’t sure. If you cannot get certified seeds, get the ones that you can but take you time to sort them well, selecting the healthy, undamaged ones for planting. Good quality seed means high quality produce.
  • If possible, pre-spray a broad spectrum herbicide two days before planting. This will go a long way into saving you the trouble of dealing with the weed menace when your crops germinate. Even if weeds grow later, you will have more time concentrating on improving yield rather than controlling weeds. Remember that more weeds means more pests, so if you are going to wait to deal with weeds later, you sure will have to deal with very destructive pests harbored in there at the same time. If you destroy weeds and leave pests, they will have only crops to feed on.
  • Do a good research on modes of planting. I will tell you for sure that so far, in Narok, there is no planter for beans. They lie to you that they have but truth is that they are using the maize planter. The gauge (spacing and number of seeds) will not be right. Available planters are for wheat and maize. Last year (2014) I cultivated 10acres of beans and used people (manual laborers). I did not regret.
  • When planning to spray, whether herbicide, fertilizer or pesticide, consult agricultural experts if you aren’t sure what chemical to use. It is also wise to decide early whether you want to use a tractor or knapsack sprayer. Whatever you choose to use, consult the operator on the amount of water they normally use on an acre of land or per drum used. It will help you make closer approximations on the amount of chemical(s) to buy for your job.
  • Do not do things in a hurry. Plan well your timing and finances. It will cost you much if you delay in carrying out any particular measure, be it weeding or any other. Close monitoring of crop is critical and so is quick decision making. Delays will cost you.
  • If you come across a situation, be it weeds, pests or disease invasion that you do not comprehend well, a photograph can help when you are seeking help from an expert. Make use of your smart phone.


Beans Farming in Narok; Second Visit_Planting

Five days after we paid for the land and left Narok with instructions to get us a harrow and planter, it rained heavily. Now, very wet soils are not easy to work on when planting, so, that first rain was good enough to propel us into action. We traveled on a Saturday to Narok, and arrived at around 10.30am. It is a two hour journey, if using private means of speed limits up to 100km/h. Public means take longer. 10.30am was a good time since the sun was out and the ground had dried a little, which is advantageous to the harrow and planter. For those who do not know, a harrow is a form of plough that is used to loosen soil just before planting. It breaks up and redistributes the soil surface in preparation of seedbed and field planting operations. A Planter(sometimes called a seeder), on the other hand is a machine used for placing your seeds inside soil (planting).

A Harrow _image courtesy of Land pride
A Harrow _image courtesy of Land pride
A Roller and Chisel Plough_Image courtesy of Ndume
A Roller and Chisel Plough_Image courtesy of Ndume
A Planter _ Image courtesy of Ndume
A Planter _ Image courtesy of Ndume







The prices we were told for harrowing ware 1500/acre and 1300/acre for a bean planter. However, from experience, these prices were exaggerated by brokers who thought they’d found a kill.

We hadn’t bought the seeds yet, so we went looking for seeds at the market and managed to get 7 bags of the variety we wanted (Wairimo), and 3bags of another variety (Nyayo). A bag of seeds was going at 6700 due to the high demand.

In 2014 I had planted beans on a 10 acre farm and had used 5bags which I bought at much lower prices . I was therefore expecting to use 15bags on this one. Since we couldn’t get the 15 immediately, we decided to start with what we had. We transported the 10bags to the farm.

The job started at around 12.30pm, the harrow having been given about an hour’s start-off advantage before the planter came in. The job went on well with no hitches, and by 7pm, we had finished harrowing and done about 15acres of planting. Darkness having set in, we had to call it a day and resume the next day, a Sunday. Only about four bags of seeds had been used on the 15acres. I was concerned about the ratios used, but was assured that it was the correct ratio for beans and I needed not to worry. I even told them how I’d used 5bags the previous year on a 10 acre piece but they said that manual planting was different from mechanized planting. After a long discussion, I decided to let go and hope for the best. That day we incurred unplanned costs on accommodation for the night.

We woke up early the next day with intentions of finishing the job early but the Planter guys let us down. They arrived at the farm at 12pm, and only after we had gone to look for them. Anyway, we were through with the job by 6pm, having used only seven bags on a 32 acre piece. I wasn’t satisfied with their explanation, but there wasn’t much I could do about it. We sold the remaining 3 bags at same price as we bought and left for Nairobi soon after.

So here is a summary of our costs for the second trip to Narok:

  • Fuel cost – 3000
  • Harrowing (1250 per acre) – 40,000
  • Planting (1300 per acre) – 41,600
  • Bean seeds (6700 per bag) – 67,000-20,100(we resold 3bags) – 46,900
  • Seed Transportation cost – 1000
  • Accommodation and food – 2500
  • Miscellaneous – 1000

Our total expenditure during second Visit was therefore 136,000/=

By the end of the second visit, we had learnt a lot of lessons about time, money and people; lessons that are very expensive to a young investors like us. The main reason for my story is for me to share those lessons so that fellow youth do not have to experience the same. That will be the subject of my next article; “Lessons from First and Second Visits”. Afterwards I will move on to tell you about the Third Visit.


Beans Farming in Narok 2015; First Visit

In march 2015, I asked a friend to get me and a business partner of mine a piece of land for lease in Narok so that we can do some farming, as usual. Farming is something I do every season, hence the statement ‘as usual’. So we got a good piece, 32 acres in size, at a place called Lamasharian (near Empopong Primary School), about 6km from Narok town. We got  good host(land lord), honest and straight forward. Of course this you only get to know after dealing with someone for sometime, as it is naive to have complete trust in someone you are meeting for the first time, especially hen it is on matters involving hundreds of thousands.

So we met, visited the location of land, agreed on a lease price and went to an advocates office with our witnesses to draw an agreement. Below is a breakdown of the costs (in Kenya shillings) we incurred on the first day:-

  • Fuel cost (to and fro Nairobi-Narok) – 2,000
  • Land leasing cost – (4500/acre) 144,000
  • Ploughing cost – (2,000/acre) 64,000
  • Advocates fee 1,000
  • Miscellaneous 1,000

Our total expenditure on the first day was therefore 212,000/=

The land was ploughed with a chisel tiller, known to break down the soil to a lot finer particles than the normal one. The finer chiseled soils retain water for longer and is a good strategy for areas with low rainfall like Narok. We found land already ploughed so just refunded the landlord the monies for tilling. After the deal was closed, we blessed it the Maa way, with mbuzi choma, and left for Nairobi after giving instructions to find for us a good Harrower and Planter in readiness for the planting day, soon as the first rains fall.

Our second Visit was a planting Visit. I’ll tell you about it in my next article; Beans Farming in Narok 2015; Second Visit.