Six High-Profit Crops for Kenyan Farmers: A Guide to Agribusiness Opportunities

By: Justine Nyachieo

The journey in agribusiness continues to be an exciting one, particularly in Kenya, where farmers now have access to international markets. This is further enhanced by the involvement of the youth, who bring advanced technologies that make farming solutions more accessible and affordable. As agribusiness in Kenya grows rapidly, certain crops offer even greater profit potential:

1. Dragon Fruit Dragon fruit, a relatively new but incredibly profitable crop in Kenya, is a vine of the cactus family, requiring support structures for growth. An acre can accommodate about 1,000 support posts, with two vines per post, leading to a plant population of 2,000 per acre. Each vine can produce approximately 30 fruits per year, each weighing around 0.5kg, resulting in a yield of 30,000 kgs per acre annually. The farm gate price was last recorded at Ksh.800 per kilo at Boffar farm, Naivasha, translating to potential earnings of Ksh.24 million per acre per year. However, as local production increases and reliance on imports decreases, a sustainable price might stabilize around Ksh.400 per kg. Even at this rate, a farmer can earn approximately Ksh.12 million per acre annually. For more information, visit Richfarm Kenya’s demonstration farm in Kiritiri Embu or call them at 0724698347 / 0723213602.

2. Passion Fruit Passion fruit farming is a high-value crop that can yield income in its first year. Despite the initial investment, the returns are substantial. The demand for passion fruits rose significantly in 2022, partly due to the increased health consciousness following the Covid-19 pandemic. With a yield of 50,000kg per hectare and an average market price of Sh.50 per kilo, earnings from one hectare can exceed Sh.2,000,000. The staggered ripening of the fruits allows for weekly harvests, facilitating continuous market supply.

3. Strawberries The demand for strawberries in Kenya is high, with a supply that struggles to keep up. This is largely due to their use in yoghurt, ice-cream, jams, and perfumes, with many Kenyan companies relying on imports. An eighth of an acre can produce between 30 kg and 50 kg of strawberries per week, selling for about Sh.200 per kilo. This can amount to Sh.40,000 per month from a small plot. Chandler is the most popular variety, and strawberries can be propagated from existing plants, reducing the need for continuous seedling purchases. For seedlings and cultivation advice, contact Richfarm Kenya at 0724698357.

4. Mushrooms Mushroom cultivation is gaining popularity in Kenya, with a demand that far exceeds the current supply. They can be grown in various substrates

such as maize stalks, bean stalks, wheat straw, coffee pulp, and other agricultural wastes. Oyster and shiitake mushrooms are particularly profitable, able to produce around 10kg per square foot annually. With the current price at Sh.400 a kilo, this can lead to significant earnings from a small space. Richfarm Kenya offers training sessions and pre-seeded mushroom production bags for beginners, simplifying the process.

5. Onions While onion prices fluctuated in recent years, reaching lows in 2020, the crop still holds potential for profit. Proper cultivation can yield up to 20,000 kgs per acre. Even at a low price of Ksh.20 per kg, the revenue stands at Ksh.400,000 in a span of 5 months, with production costs averaging Ksh.120,000 per acre. Future price increases could significantly boost profits, considering historical highs.

6. Pawpaws Pawpaws are a lesser-known yet lucrative crop. Resistant to dry conditions and relatively pest-free, they require minimal care. One acre can accommodate 1,100 trees, each yielding 40 to 50 kg of fruit annually. This translates to around 40 to 50 tons per acre each year, potentially earning 1.2 to 1.5 million shillings at an average price of Ksh.30 per kg. The initial investment is modest, with seedling costs and cultivation expenses typically under Ksh.100,000 per acre.

Conclusion While dragon fruit tops the list of profitable crops in Kenya in 2023, we encourage exploring other promising options like kiwi fruit and blackberry farming. These six crops demonstrate the diverse and profitable opportunities available in Kenyan agribusiness. With the right approach and investment, farmers can tap into these lucrative markets, contributing to both their prosperity and the country’s agricultural growth.