Today, after planting improved varieties and working as part of a cooperative to boost her access to markets, the 59-year-old grandmother earns 30,000 shillings ($360) a month from her bananas, selling them at 13 shillings a kilo rather than three.
"I am not educated. My father denied me that chance. But I've made something of my life," said Gitau, who has bought seven dairy cows with some of her profits.
She also recently planted 100 passion fruit vines as part of an $11 million project, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Coca Cola, to have 50,000 Kenyan and Ugandan smallholders produce fruit for Minute Maid juice and double their incomes in the process.