How To Start Farming In Kenya, Profitable Crops

Introduction on how to start Farming in Kenya, types of farming in Kenya, profitable crops in Kenya, cash crop farming in Kenya: Agriculture plays an important role in Kenya’s economy. Some of the major crops used for domestic consumption are corn (maize) and wheat. Soil resources change from sandy to clayey, shallow to deep, and low to high fertility. Though, most of them have serious limitations such as salinity/sodicity, acidity, and fertility and drainage problems. Vertisols, acrisols, lixisols, ferralsols, luvisols, and nitisols are the major soils used in Kenya agriculture.

Cattle and goats are raised mainly for domestic use. Soil consists of solid particles, water, and air and serves as a natural medium for plant growth. The solid particles are made up of mineral components like sand, silt, and clay and organic components consisting of decomposed plant and animal residues like organic matter. Clay and organic matter can adsorb cations/nutrients, playing an important role to plant nutrition.

Soils have microorganisms, which decompose plant and animal residues, and microbes like Rhizobium bacteria, which help certain plants to fix nitrogen from the air. Different types of soils have different profiles with clear horizontal layers are also called horizons. The horizons differ from each other in their physical, chemical, and biological characteristics like color, texture, structure, consistency, presence of organisms, degree of acidity or alkalinity pH level, etc.

A guide on how to start Farming in Kenya, main agriculture crops in Kenya, types of farming in Kenya, profitable crops in Kenya, cash crop farming in Kenya

Agriculture dominates the Kenyan economy for 40% of the overall workforce about 70% of the rural workforce as well as contributing 27% of GDP indirectly through linkages with other sectors. Tea, coffee, cut flowers, and vegetables are the country’s main agricultural exports. Kenya is the world’s leading exporter of cut flowers and black tea. In semi-arid areas, farmers produce about 20% of the output while the remaining 10% of the output accounts for the arid regions. Due to poor incentives, and underdeveloped supporting infrastructure and institutions, productivity remains low in all the regions. Kenya is undertaking agricultural region reforms that are expected to spur growth. A new regulatory framework, arising from the consolidation and sectoral laws harmonization is under implementation.

Agriculture is very important in rural areas of Kenya. Kenya perennially faces supply deficits in food sectors. The country continues to use instruments under some agreements like the COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) and the EAC (East African Community) to limit food imports. These agreements provide for high non-member tariffs on sensitive commodities.  Elements of subsidy still exist in the seed and fertilizer systems.

Climate effect for in agriculture in Kenya

Climate change has become an important consideration in the agriculture sector. Climate change will have a range of positive and negative impacts in the agriculture sector depending on the regions of the world. Effects of the negative impacts include declining agricultural productivity and loss of crops, livestock, fish, and investments in agriculture due to changing temperature levels and precipitation regimes and increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. Also, fisheries and aquaculture are affected through acidification of the water bodies, changes in water temperature levels, and circulation patterns which alter the Physio-chemical properties of the fish habitats and ultimately the productivity.

The agricultural sector is not only impacted upon by climate change but also contributes to the problem. The country’s agriculture is mainly rain-fed and therefore vulnerable to climate change particularly changes in temperature regimes and precipitation patterns, and extreme weather events. This leads to unsustainable land and agricultural water management.

Organic agriculture in Kenya

The modern conventional agriculture sector can be very expensive for farmers. Organic farming is not new in Kenya and it has been practiced since ancient times. This is mainly achieved through the use of organic wastes such as farm, animal, and crop wastes alongside other biological materials and bio-fertilizers. Under organic farming in Kenya, over 182,000 hectares of land accounts for 0.69% of the total agricultural area. Consumers are more and more interested in health and sustainably formed food and expenditures on organic food are rising faster compared to non-organic food.

To alleviate this situation, farmers in Kenya need to practice alternatives that are more environmentally friendly. Smallholder farmers train by using locally available resources that include local knowledge, for maximum production to feed a growing population by the KIOF (Kenya Institute of Organic Farming). This can be realized by choice of crops, planting systems, crop storage, crop protection, and soil conservation.

Intensive training course (1 week) offered by Kenya Institute of Organic Farming for the farmers in Kenya. Then, there is a follow-up to monitor and support adoption. In Kenya, farmers are trained about how to use traditional knowledge for maximum crop production. Farmers have long been using plant and animal manures, but guidance on optimal timing, placement, and quantity was required. Farmers know which crops grow well together and those that are not compatible. In pest and disease management, organic farming management first tries to avoid the problem whenever possible, for example by the use of resistant local varieties and by encouraging natural enemies.

Flowers cultivation in Kenya

Kenya is the world’s 3rd largest exporter of several cut flowers. Half of Kenya’s, about 127 flower farms are concentrated around Lake Naivasha. For cultivating a host of cut flowers agro-climatic conditions in Kenya are best suited. Nakuru, Kericho, Thika, Kiambu, Athi River, Lake Naivasha, Nairobi, Nyandarua, Uasin Gichu, and Eastern Kenya are the main flower production areas in Kenya. Cut flowers are Kenya’s 3rd largest export.

The livestock sector in Kenya 

In Kenya, demand for animal genetics is vibrant among 80% of the dairy cattle breed that is 650,000 small-scale producers. Kenya’s dairy producers appear to be opting for the Aryshire to Holstein breeds due to declining farm sizes and recurrent droughts.

Kenya’s export has never exceeded about 7,500 cattle heads. Major Kenya’s export markets are the Middle East, West Africa, Central Africa, and North Africa. The livestock sub-sector mainly contributes over 30% of the farm gate value of agricultural commodities, about 10% of the national GDP, and at least 50% of the agricultural GDP. The agricultural sector employs about 50% of the agricultural labor force. Also, domestic livestock supply the local requirements of meat, milk, dairy products, and other livestock products while accounting for about 30% of the total marketed agricultural products. About 4.6 billion liters from cattle, 6.4 million liters from goats, and 340 million liters from camels belong to milk production in Kenya by providing an important source of livelihoods to people in Kenya.

Some production constraints include low productivity; poor breed characterization, inadequate breeding services, poor animal husbandry, inadequate extension, and advisory services, inadequate feeds and feeding, disease challenges, and high cost of inputs to markets, and inadequate integration of industry players.

Pig Farming – Pigs are well known in Kenya for producing meat or pork and for bringing back huge profits to the farmer. If you decide to keep pigs you will fast realize that they are easy to maintain. You have to select good pig breeds though to ensure that you get good sizes when you want to sell.

Goat and Sheep Farming – Starting a Goat or Sheep farming business is relatively affordable and the good thing is that they do not need a lot of maintenance. From sheep, you can get wool, skin, sheep milk, mutton, and manure while goats can give milk, meat, skin, and manure. If you have ever bought 1 kg of goat or sheep meat from the butchery then know how expensive it is. Imagine the profits you would be making if you were selling your own and sheep.

Irrigation management for agriculture in Kenya

Kenya’s irrigation sector is mainly categorized into three organizational types. They are smallholder schemes, centrally-managed public schemes, and private/commercial irrigation schemes. In Kenya, the irrigation schemes are owned, developed, and managed by individuals or groups of farmers. Under irrigation, there are about 3,000 smallholder irrigation schemes.

Greenhouse farming in Kenya

Many small-scale farmers in Kenya are adopting greenhouse farming practices to increase agriculture production and boost profits. Some of the popular products being grown in greenhouse systems include Watermelons, Capsicum, and Tomatoes. Greenhouse farming in Kenya enables to use of fewer agricultural inputs. Greenhouse in Kenya utilizes drip irrigation to maximize the use of the available water.

Animal feed production in Kenya

Many people in Kenya venturing into demand for animal feeds. If you are a smart business person you will realize that if you produce your feed that is which will lower your production cost and sell it to farmers, you will generate a lot of income in agriculture.

Fish farming in Kenya

Tilapia, Catfish, Nile Perch among others are some of the fish species that farmers in Kenya raise for profits. Fish farming in Kenya is a profitable business and many supermarkets are issuing tenders for supply. The current price of fish is approximately Ksh. 500 per Kg.

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Catfish Farming In Kenya
Catfish Farming In Kenya (Image source: pixabay)

Poultry farming in Kenya

Poultry farming in Kenya is a widespread occupation and profitable business. Mostly, it is practiced on a small-scale, and predominantly for domestic consumption. Some important poultry birds are chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese, producing meat and eggs. Some farmers have embraced commercial systems in the event of frequent food shortages and fluctuating prices.

Broilers – Broilers are mainly reared for meat. In Kenya, broilers are raised by corporations and individuals. Kenchic Limited industries supply meat locally and also for other countries.

Layers – Some large-scale layer growers in Kenya are Muguku Farms, Kenchic Limited, and Sigma Supplies.

Poultry Farming In Kenya
Poultry Farming In Kenya (Pic credit: pixabay)

Kenbro – Kenbro belongs to Kenchick. These chickens can be reared for eggs and meat. These chickens are fed for 6 months before they start laying. Their egg production is lower compared to that of layers. Those reared for meat take longer to mature compared to broilers.

Steps to start a farming business in Kenya

Agribusiness is the backbone of Kenya’s economy. Kenya people follow some agribusiness tips and applying modern technology systems to make it more profitable.

Step 1) Before you start farming in Kenya, you will need to think about the different varieties of farming that will get into. The different farming choices include planting different kinds of produce, poultry farming, and fish farming, or rearing animals.

Step 2) Diversification is especially in crop farming because different kinds of crops shave different maturity rates. Though, diversifying will make sure that you will have income all year round.

Step 3) Equipment – Before you start the actual farming process you must be prepared with all the necessary things you need. If you want to get into the horticulture sector you need to buy all the requirements i.e., F1 seeds, fertilizer, herbicides, and pesticides etc. If you want to start a dairy farm business then you need to buy good cow breeds, and animal feeds, etc.

Step 4) Decide on what kind of farming or agriculture you want to engage in, make sure you have gained enough capital and knowledge so you can be able to understand the challenges, how to avert them, and manage the farming operations very well.

Step 5) Get a suitable place depending on the kind of farming business you choose, make sure that the land has suitable soil for cultivation and is sizeable enough for farming needs. Check the pH level to make sure it’s normal and as well prepare the land using organic manure if the soil composition is not okay.

Step 6) Before commencing this kind of business practice, there is something you must do; and you have to identify yourself with the right agency or organization that is responsible for certifying organic farmers in Kenya. You can get the right information from them and they will help you to understand the farming practices and make sure that you adhere to their requirement and rule.

Step 7) Market Research – A common mistake by farmers is diving into the business without proper market research. They assume that there is a ready market for their products and they couldn’t be wrong about this. Don’t go into the same business as a neighbor because this will saturate the market. It will cause a domino-like effect and prices will go down and losses for you. To succeed in farming in Kenya, you will need to find products that are on-demand and that you can quickly sell for the price you need to be profitable. Before you venture into these farming businesses in Kenya build relationships with customers is an important task.

Frequently asked questions about farming in Kenya

Why is agriculture important in Kenya?

Agriculture is an important fundamental system in economic development. Agriculture in itself is also a market for industrial goods like machinery, equipment, and fertilizers used in the farming process.

How much of Kenya’s economy is agriculture?

In Kenya, the agriculture sector contributing 33% of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Does Kenya have good agriculture?

Agriculture in Kenya dominates Kenya’s economy. Kenya’s total land area has sufficient fertility and rainfall to be farmed about 15 to 17%.

What type of farming is in Kenya?

Different types of farming in Kenya are Tea, Horticulture, Coffee, Dairy, Sheep, Pig, and Poultry, etc.

Is Kenya’s soil fertile?

The significant response of maize and other crops to nitrogen and phosphorous at various sites in Kenya confirms that soil fertility is declining especially in N and P for many Kenyan soils.

What is the main problem facing dairy farmers in Kenya?

The most common problem faced by farmers in Kenya is the lack of proper storage facilities. Then, this results in heavy losses as most of the milk production goes to waste.

How can I start a small dairy farm in Kenya?

For a successful dairy business in Kenya, you need to follow below steps;

  • Market research
  • Capital and land
  • Ecological considerations
  • Breed selection and fodder
  • Management levels and production systems
  • Select suitable breed for dairy farming
  • Proper health management
  • Recordkeeping

Which are the profitable crops in Kenya?

The most profitable crops to grow in Kenya are Tomatoes, Onions, Beans, Tea, Cabbage, Maize, Watermelon, Bananas, Carrots, and Sugarcane, etc.

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Tomato Farming In Kenya
Tomato Farming In Kenya (Image credit: pixabay)

Which is the best farming in Kenya?

The best farming practices in Kenya are;

Mushroom farming, Garlic farming, Fish farming, Poultry farming, Passion fruit farming, Greenhouse farming, Dairy farming, and Beekeeping, etc.

How do I become a farmer in Kenya?

Successful farming practices in Kenya are;

  • Consider why you want to be a farmer in Kenya
  • Think about your priorities
  • Decide the economic hardships of small farming are acceptable to you
  • Visit farming resource websites
  • Reach out to local cooperative extension
  • Talk to farmers
  • Volunteer on a farm

How do farmers get rich in Kenya?

Tips to get more money by farming in Kenya are;

  • Selling to local businesses
  • Investing in alternative energy
  • Crop rotation habits
  • Improving farm equipment
  • Farmers should boost irrigation
  • Increase the use of fertilizers
  • Improve market access, regulations, and governance
  • Make better use of information technology

Where is dairy farming practiced in Kenya?

Dairy farming is defined as the keeping of dairy animals like cattle for milk production. It is practiced on large-scale industries in the Central and Rift Valley and small scale in other parts of the country like Eastern, Coast, and Western. About 20% of Kenya’s milk comes from large scale and 80% from small scale farmers.

What type of farming do they do in Kenya?

The main cultivating products in Kenya are tea and coffee. Kenya is also a leading exporter of fresh produce like Cabbages, Onions, and Mangoes. Small farms in Kenya grow Corn and also produce Potatoes, Bananas, Beans, Peas, and Chillies.

Which cow gives more milk in Kenya?

The Dairy Swiss cow breed is the best milk cow breed in Kenya. It produces 18 to 20 liters of milk daily while the Brown Swiss produces about 10 to 15 liters of milk every day on an average.

Where are the best dairy cows in Kenya?

In Kenya, people purchase good dairy cattle breeds from authorized farms. Some authorized farms are Gichecha Farm in Ruiru, Manera (Delamere Estate) in Naivasha, the University of Nairobi Farm in Kabete Agricultural Development Corporation in Kitale, and Kisima Farm in Njoro among many others.

How much does it cost to start a dairy farm business in Kenya?

For a small dairy farm business, you want to invest at least Ksh 150,000. For a medium-scale farm, you want to invest Ksh 500,000 and for a large-scale dairy farm, you want Ksh 5,000,000 or more.

What are the dairy goat breeds in Kenya?

There are many dairy goat breeds available in Kenya. These are the goats reared for milk. You can check out local classifieds or online websites for dairy goats in Kenya for sale. While select the dairy goat breeds in Kenya ensures that the breed has high production and quality milk. Below are the popular dairy goat breeds in Kenya.

  • Saanen
  • Toggenburg
  • Barbari
  • Jamunapari

What are the Meat Goat breeds in Kenya?

There are several meat goat breeds available in Kenya. If you are goat rearing for meat, then this is what you should consider. Meat goat breeds in Kenya are highly productive and produce good quality meat. Below are some popular meat goat breeds in Kenya.

  • Boer
  • Mato
  • Black Bengal

If you are purchasing a baby goat, it is helpful that they are properly vaccinated.

What are the important dairy breeds in Kenya?

The country has approximately 18 million cattle according to the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization. These dairy breeds include the Sahiwal; indigenous breeds like Zebu and Boran, Holstein, Frisian, Jersey, Guernsey are some exotic western breeds as well as crosses of various breeds.

What are the commercial chicken breeds in Kenya?

Commercial breeds of chickens in Kenya are

  • Broilers
  • Kari Improved Kienyeji Chicken
  • Layers
  • Kenbro
  • Sasso
  • Kuroiler

How much do you need to start a poultry farming business in Kenya?

You will need approximately Ksh 3,000 to Ksh 25,000 to start a small to a medium-scale poultry farm in Kenya. Though, you need over Ksh 25,000 to start large-scale farms.

How much does it cost to build a poultry house in Kenya?

To set up a well-designed poultry house in Kenya, you will need Ksh 80,000 for 100 layers or 135 broilers.

Is pig farming profitable in Kenya?

Commercial pig farming is a profitable business in Kenya. The demand is high and the market is growing rapidly. But the supply is still limited. Therefore, there are great opportunities of starting commercial pig farming in Kenya.

What is the importance of poultry?

Poultry farming provides eggs, meat, and feathers for human consumption. People love to raise chicken and other poultry breeds. Others raise them for backyard pets and fresh eggs every day.

What kinds of fish are available in Kenya?

Kenya’s inland waters involving cold and warm freshwaters support an abundance of aquatic resources. Barbus, Rastrineobola, Alestes, Black bass, Bagrus, and Labeo are the freshwater fish species in Kenya. Other species are Haplochromis, Lates niloticus, Momyrus, Protopterus, Schilbe, and Synodontis.

Which is the main freshwater fish in Kenya?

The main species caught in inland capture fisheries in Kenya are Nile perch, Omena, Nile tilapia, Common Carp, and Black Bass.

What is the most popular fruit in Kenya?

Bananas are the most consumed fruit in Kenya.

Why is fishing important in Kenya?

Small-scale fishing is necessary to overall household well-being as it provides both income and nutrient-rich food.

Is goat farming profitable in Kenya?

Goat meat has a high demand in Kenya. Goat farming in Kenya needs less capital to start hence makes it an affordable agribusiness venture.

How many goats can you have per acre of goat farming in Kenya?

Depending on supplemental feed, goats can be reared on small acreage land for an intensive system. Depending on the supply of grass and brush, 2 to 10 goats per acre are required for an extensive system.

What are the important dairy goat breeds in Kenya?

The dairy goat breeds that do well in Kenya are Anglo-Nubian, Toggenburg, and Alpine goat.

How many livestock species are there in Kenya?

Cattle (18 million), sheep (18 million), goats (28 million), pigs (334,689), and poultry (31 million) are the major livestock species in Kenya.

How climate is related to agriculture in Kenya?

In the agriculture sector, climate change can disrupt food availability, reduce food access, and affect food quality. For example, changes in precipitation patterns, changes in extreme weather events, and reductions in water availability can result in reduced agricultural productivity.

Where can I buy Galla goats in Kenya?

Galla goats are also known as Boran goats. These are indigenous to the arid and semi-arid regions of northern Kenya and are kept mainly for meat, although they also produce milk. About 16 Galla goat bucklings were selected and divided into four groups of four animals each.

What are the major vegetables cultivated in Kenya?

The major vegetables produced in Kenya are Irish Potatoes, Tomatoes, French Beans, Carrots, Broccoli, Cabbages, Snow Peas, Kales, Spinach, Runner Beans, and Asian Vegetables.

What are irrigation schemes available in Kenya?

Kenya has some managed irrigation schemes that are Mwea, Perkera, Bura, Hola, West Kano, Bunyala, and Ahero. These are covering a total commanded area of 18,200 hectares and averaging 2,600 hectares per scheme.

What fruits and vegetables grow in Kenya?

Kenya mainly grows Plum, Pears, Apples, Grapes, Oranges, Lemons, Tangerines, Bananas, loquats, Dates, Pawpaws, Pineapples, Avocados, Peaches, Apricots, and Passion Fruit. Most fruit varieties are grown in the Highlands region.

What fruit do they eat in Kenya?

Although fruits in Kenya are seasonal, there are always several kinds of fruits available at any one time in the country. Mangoes, Pineapples, Oranges, Passion fruits, Bananas, Pears, and Papaws are the popular fruits.

What is the most profitable vegetable to grow in Kenya?

Cabbage is the profitable vegetable crop per acre in Kenya.

Which is the most profitable vegetable crop in Kenya?

Tomatoes are the most profitable crop to grow in Kenya.

What are the best fruits to grow in Kenya?

The best fruits to grow in Kenya are Banana, Apple, Mango, Orange, and Pawpaw.

What is the profitable fruit cultivated in Kenya?

Passion fruit is the biggest fruit export in Kenya. The local market demand is quite high.

Which county produces most fish in Kenya?

Lake Victoria (Kenyan portion) has always had the largest fishery products, producing about 90% of fish in the country.



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