Crops With the Highest Profit Per Acre in Kenya

  • A passionfruit plantation.
    A passionfruit plantation.
    File
  • Despite the steady returns enjoyed by farmers in Kenya, the profession has been mostly been associated with the elderly living in rural areas.

    However, over the last few years, a new crop of young farmers have emerged. Armed with knowledge on best practices, technology and access to information on the best markets, they are raking in millions.

    Speaking to Kenyans.co.ke, Fredrick Murithi, a young farmer currently in the process of planting macadamia and avocado trees on his 30-acre farm in Meru, shared priceless insights into the lucrative industry.

    "If you visit a place called Mitunguu in Meru, you'll be surprised by the lavish mansions that stand out in the country-side. They all belong to a new breed of young millionaires who have been making a killing from their banana farms," he revealed.

    An avocado split in half.
    An avocado split in half.
    File

    He went on to explain that he had decided to ditch his usual maize crop in favor of macadamia trees and avocado due to market conditions.

    "It's actually cheaper to get a bag of maize from Uganda. I had also indulged in farming cabbages but the math just didn't add up. The middlemen used to buy each cabbage head from my farm at Ksh5 only for them to sell it at Ksh80 in Nairobi," he narrated.

    Murithi went on to explain how this 'age of information' has proved to be an invaluable asset for farmers as they can now access any information critical to their success at the click of a button. 

    When it comes to farming in Kenya, land is one of the major challenges. The problem is farmers have no clear land ownership rights. 

    Research and consultations with farmers combined with government data point to emerging crops that have the highest potential of returns per acre in Kenya.

    Avocados

    Hass Avocado is the new goldmine for modern farmers. Before the market was regulated, farmers used to sell a fruit for as low as Sh1. Now they sell one for Sh8. Hass-avocado exporters sell the fruit for as high as KSh 30.

    Just last year farmers in Murang’a county earned Sh500 million from hass-avocados according to Governor Mwangi Wa-Iria.

    One properly watered tree of hass avocado can give you 1,000 fruits a year, which comes to Ksh8,000.

    Avocado trees are very productive and can fruit all year round. At maximum production, a single mature tree can produce 70 to 100 kg of fruits per year. Kenya has witnessed a sharp increase in the number of countries interested in Kenya avocados, these counties are, Russia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, France, Spain, Iran, Libya, and Egypt among others

    Passion fruit farming

    Passion fruit is one of the biggest fruit exports by Kenya. The local market demand is also quite high. They are consumed fresh or the pulp is used for making juice and other products e.g. yoghurt. 

    Passion fruits.
    Passion fruits.
    File

    Passion fruit is one of the biggest fruit exports by Kenya. The local market demand is also quite high. They are consumed fresh or the pulp is used for making juice and other products e.g. yoghurt. 

    There are two popular types in Kenya; the purple variety which grows in high altitudes and the yellow variety which has higher yields and is disease resistant.

    A ¼ acre can grow about 350 passion plants or more. One plant with good care can produce 10–15 kg of fruits in a year. Passion fruits sell for Ksh40–100 per kg while grade 1 for export can go for around Ksh70–100 per kg.

    Mushroom farming

    Mushroom farming is not very old in Kenya. Cultivation used to be a complex affair but research, training and farm visits have made it easier for farmers to venture into mushroom farming.   

    A quarter-acre of land is enough to have an incubation house and a cropping house. You can make use of the vertical space too since mushrooms don’t grow tall. If you have 1000 bags in one cropping room, you can get close to 2 tons of button mushrooms going at an average of Ksh600 per kg.

    According to the National Farmers Information Service (NAFIS) Kenya, the demand for mushrooms averages 1200 tons a year.

    Garlic Farming

    A ¼ acre of land of this high-value horticultural crop can give you about 2.5 tons yield of garlic bulb selling at a farm gate price of around Ksh150 per kg.

    Notably, Garlic requires adequate skills, training and good research to be successful. 

    You’ll need to understand the local varieties, get certified seeds, good soil and best environment. Growing organic garlic is preferred especially for the export market. 

    Tomato plants in a greenhouse.
    Tomato plants in a greenhouse.
    File

    Tomatoes

    Tomatoes are one of the most profitable crops to plant in Kenya. Though the crop performs depending on seasons, there are high chances consistent farmers would make huge returns from the sales.

    Tomatoes can be harvested twice a year. A single acre of land generates profits of up to Ksh 3 million per annum, if done correctly.

    This is where research into the right seed and the right environment in terms of temperature and water play a vital role.

    Strawberries

    The demand for strawberries is bursting at the seams and the supply is low. This is because of the strawberry flavour from yogurt, ice-creams, and jams.

    A one-eighth of an acre would be adequate for a beginner. It takes about 70 days for the crop to mature and produce the first fruits. 

    A farm of that size can produce between 30kg and 50kg of strawberries per week and each kilo averages at Ksh200 in the market place.

    Lettuce

    Lettuce is one of the popular vegetables in Kenya and around the world due to its high nutritional value. 

    It is considered superior because it is high in vitamin C and dietary fibre. One head of Lettuce broccoli retails at Ksh70 to Ksh100. 

    On a good month, you can make Ksh100,000 to Ksh150,000 profit from Lettuce farming.

    Onions

    It’s practically served in every Kenyan dish at home or your local hotel. The onion grows under simple weather conditions. 

    Its health benefits and nutritional value are far much great making it a unique vegetable that farmers should always strive to grow. It is this reason that makes onions have such high demand in Kenya. 

    Onions take between three to five months to mature. The vegetable requires well-drained soil of PH 6 to 7. They are first planted in Nursery then transferred to the field. 

    They require a long dry period of ripening with less expense on managing pests. With an acre of land, one can harvest 20,000kgs of onion which averages at Ksh100 to 200 shillings per kilo.

    According to the Enhanced Food Balance Sheets for Kenya Report 2018, published by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), onion consumption per household remained constant from 2014.

    Most importantly, any would-be farmer is advised to carry out thorough research before diving in. Things to look out for include environmental viability, pests, types of seeds, labour intensity and market availability.

    An onion plantation in Kenya.
    An onion plantation in Kenya.
    File