• Income
Start Date:
May 2022

Increase short term income for farmers

Pilot project on green bean farming


Most families in Ayalagaya and Arri are subsistence farmers growing food and raising livestock for family consumption and selling leftovers, if any. A key Karimu goal is to be able to increase their income, particularly in the area of agriculture and livestock, that uses and improves on skills and resources they already have. Karimu hired a consultant in 2022 to assess the best agricultural opportunities for the local community and cultivation of french green beans for export topped the list. Several farmers have had experience with the crop, but market access was a challenge.


Greens beans provide a fast return on investment given the short cycle-to-harvest time (60 days). They can be cultivated year round where water needs can be reliably provided and on small plots of land, and still yield economic benefits of up to TSh 1,786,000 per acre. The initial investment required is low for new farmers, particularly as the buyer can advance the seeds and farmers can organize in groups to obtain fertilizer, pesticides, agronomy, and Global Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification training (required for project scaling for export to Europe) at affordable prices.  The resulting profits are estimated at more than 17 times the average monthly wage in the area.


We have identified a partner, Home Fresh Tanzania Limited, with whom we will pilot 2 harvests with 25 farmers of ¼ acre each. Home Fresh will provide education and support in growing, harvesting,  post-harvest handling, pick-up from central collection points, and delivery to direct markets. While Home Fresh will provide financing for the seeds, the farmers must provide the upfront investment and labor associated with soil preparation, weeding, harvesting, and packaging for transport.


Our success criteria for the pilot are as follows: 


  • At least 80% of enrolled farmers harvest their crop

  • Harvesting farmers meet the target profit margin of TSh 446,500 per ¼ acre

  • 90% of harvesting farmers are satisfied with the pilot and want to continue

  • Green beans produced by farmers meet quality, freshness and productivity targets provided by Home Fresh 

  • Rejects must be below 10% of the total harvested green beans 

  • Home Fresh demonstrates reliability and transparency as a partner


July 2022 Update: We planted the first crop June 29 and 30. Twenty farmers were able to have the fertilizer on hand for the planting so only 20 are participating in the pilot. Of those 45% are women. The agronomist was onsite to demonstrate how to plant and care for the crops according to their schedule. Each farmer was given 3 kg of  seeds.

Clockwise from upper left: Farmers review and sign contracts with Karimu and Home Fresh, the Home Fresh agronomist teaches the farmers about planting and caring for the seeds, Farmers prepare the fields for planting with the Home Fresh agronomist, Farmers planting the seeds.



October 2022 Update: The first harvest of the pilot was concluded with several challenges. Overall, the harvest was only about 1/3rd of what we expected (600KG beans/farmer), although 1 farmer overproduced by 1/3rd.  Key challenges included:

  • Planting during a cold season

  • Inadequate farmer education

  • Difficulty accessing fertilizer

  • Farmer non-compliance with prescribed fertilizer and pesticide application

  • Inefficient communication between farmers and our partner, Home Fresh. 

  • Poor transportation coordination resulting in higher losses in transit 

  • Lack of clear responsibility across the many steps of harvest, weighing, transit, weighing, payment, reject management,...

Following several meetings with farmers and Home Fresh, several changes are implemented for the 2nd planting:


  • Planting during the best season

  • The farmers were organized into a group with their own leadership to facilitate communications between Home Fresh and farmers and Karimu and farmers. 

  • Home Fresh increased the theoretical and practical education delivered to the farmers

  • Karimu purchased fertilizer in advance for the entire planting to ensure adequate fertilizer for all farmers in the pilot. Karimu will be repaid from the harvest revenue.

  • Improved transit coordination

  • Clarified roles for farmers and Home Fresh across all steps of the process.


Top photos: farmers harvest the beans, lower left: farmers grade the beans, lower right: beans are placed in crates for transport



December 2022 Update: Land preparation and kick off of the second planting started November 1. Twenty eight farmers are participating in the second and last part of the pilot. Of those 45% are women. Only 29% of farmers are from Arri ward. Green beans require regular watering and irrigation is more of a challenge in Arri ward. The farmer group elected its leadership, the Home Fresh agronomist is implementing all the arrangements agreed to in October, and Karimu purchased the fertilizer for the 2nd planting. Harvest is expected between January 24 and February 9. 


Second pilot: planting through harvest.

April 2023 Update: The results of the harvest are mixed. We have demonstrated that green beans can be grown very successfully in the region, though not during the cool season. 96% of farmers harvested their crop and 92% want to continue. The crop can be very profitable with 36% of farmers harvesting at or above our target. Unfortunately only 11% reached our profit target. Contributing factors included:

  • Insufficient cash reserves to pay laborers leaving beans in the field or driving up the reject rate (21%).

  • Lack of coordination across farmers that resulted in labor prices spiking. 


We believe that better planning and coordination could address those problems. However, our partner, HomeFresh, is having cash flow issues and was unable to pay the farmers on time. Karimu stepped in to pay the farmers what was owed and we expect to collect from HomeFresh.  However, this will delay project scale up and will require at least one more pilot harvest either with HomeFresh or another partner.


January 2024 Update: Karimu has identified a new partner, African Vegetables Company Limited, and plans to run a pilot with them (2 harvest cycles) from April to June and then another one from July to September.


April 2024 update: In partnership with African Vegetables Company Limited (AVL), Karimu has supported the first cluster of 28 farmers in planting 7 acres of green beans on April 15th. AVL has provided high quality seeds as well as farming best practices, whereas Karimu helped recruit the farmers, organized them into a self-governing group, and provided assistance with the appropriate application of fertilizers. 

Above farmers receive seeds, plant them, and pose for a group photo.



We expect a second cluster of around 28 farmers to plant an equivalent 7 acres of green beans in the beginning of May.  The first planting had to be split into two due to recruitment pacing and accommodating some plots that were affected by flooding and will be ready a little later.


Green beans can provide a good opportunity to increase farming income given its export potential and short growing cycle. Harvest should happen in around 60 days, when AVL will purchase the beans that meet the agreed quality standards.


We are excited by the prospects of a successful partnership, and aim to expand the scope of the green beans project later this year.



  • Improved income for farmers

  • Diversification of crops



  • Karimu cost: $15,702

  • Farmer cost: Seed, fertilizer, pesticide, labor