Investing in the farming business in Kenya is a wise move for a country whose economic backbone is agriculture. The sector accounts for 40% of the national workforce, with 70% of the rural workforce engaging in farming.
Although the Kenyan highland areas only cover about 10% of the Kenyan land area, they produce 70% of all the agricultural produce with a majority of this targeting the export market. The main agricultural exports in the country include tea, coffee, flowers, and vegetables.
Agriculture in Kenya contributes 25% directly and 26% indirectly to the Kenyan GDP. The export earnings from agricultural products account for more than 60% of all total export earnings.
The government has also made it a key area of focus by making food security a key priority in recent years. This has resulted in to increase in government subsidies and progressive regulations in the sector.
Advantages of Farming in Kenya
1. Minimal skills required- farming is not a complex business structure and requires basic skills to execute more so for small-scale farmers. Unlike other businesses where you have to go to school to attain the qualifications, you can get the basic skills from other farmers. It means that anyone can learn how to farm and take it up, regardless of their educational background.
2. Minimum capital requirement– 81% of farmers in Kenya are small-scale farmers, owning less than 1.21 hectares of land. With the innovation that has greatly benefited the agricultural sector, it is now possible to farm on a very small piece of land while attaining maximum yields. A growing trend in the agricultural sector is digital farming.
3. Ready market– Food is a necessity. Therefore, the market for agricultural products is wide, since every citizen is a potential customer. Another advantage is the availability of food markets across the country.
Challenges of Farming in Kenya
1. Price fluctuations– since many Kenyans are farmers, there is plenty of agricultural produce supply. Due to the high supply of agricultural produce, the prices tend to fluctuate regularly making the market unpredictable. In some cases, this translates to lower yields for the average farmer, compared to other business models.
2. Competition from cheaper imported products– Neighboring countries such as Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Uganda have a competitive advantage in the production of some farm products. This makes it harder for Kenyan products to compete effectively in the market. Some of the products with this challenge include eggs, maize, milk, and sugar.
Why You Should Invest in the Farming Business in Kenya
1. Availability of affordable and adequate agricultural land
In a large country, you can easily get cheap farming land in Kenya. However, if you do not have the funds to purchase a piece of land, you can opt to lease the land for several years.
Since the majority of the world’s fertile and arable land is located in Africa, many foreign investors are leasing thousands of hectares for agricultural purposes.
Land in Kenya is available at a cheap price, especially in rural areas. However, you should carry out adequate research in identifying the type of farming to undertake. This is a key step in understanding the location of the land.
This is because different plants and animals thrive in different environments with varying climatic conditions.
2. Different climate zones across the country
Kenya is located along the equator. Hence, there is less extreme weather such as winter. The diversity in climates in the country allows diversification in farming. This gives you choice from the thousand types of farming that you can undertake.
As an example, the highlands have a cool and wet climate that is favorable for tea and coffee growing. The arid areas favor livestock keeping while hot climates are favorable for wheat growing.
3. Job creation
As we saw earlier, agriculture activities provide employment opportunities for 40% of the labor workforce in the country.
Creating job opportunities for the citizens around you is a social duty that will help improve the living standards of the community members. By empowering the community, you also create a better market for your products in the process.
4. Availability of a ready market
Agricultural products will always be in demand because they are necessities. This makes farming a long-term business despite the changes in other markets.
With this idea in mind, it is time to identify a viable suitable agricultural practice that best suits you.
The government through the ministry of agriculture, partners with small-scale farmers to offer training services and to look for markets for agricultural produce.
It has also put measures in place to limit the number of imported food products such as tariffs. This helps in protecting the local farmers from unfair competition. In return, it translates to more returns.
The farming business in Kenya allows you to start with whatever land size you have at your disposal. Unlike other countries where there are minimum requirements to become a commercial farmer, Kenya offers freedom to small-scale farmers.
The majority of the farmers in Kenya are small-scale farmers, and they use farming as a means to support their livelihood.
With a small piece of land, it is possible to venture into smart farming and make a good amount of money for yourself.
6. Minimum skills requirement
As we saw earlier, farming requires very minimal skills to start especially if you are farming products that don’t need a lot of expertise.
Basic farming skills can be learned from observing and working with other farmers. In case you feel that you need more skills, you can visit a technical institute for formal classes or seek the services of an agriculture expert.
However, basic farmers’ forums should be enough to get you started in the farming business.
7. A wide array of farming methods to choose from
For food and cash crop farming in Kenya, there are a variety of farming methods to choose from. Different farming methods are suitable for different land sizes.
Some of the common farming methods in Kenya include:
- Greenhouse farming
This is a farming practice where crops are grown under regulated water and temperature conditions. Some of the commonly grown crops in greenhouses are flowers and vegetables.
The greenhouse farming method is suitable for areas with a low water supply. It utilizes drip irrigation which helps the farmer control the amount of water.
With a greenhouse system, the farmer can easily control pests and diseases that would otherwise affect the crops outside the greenhouse.
· Organic farming
This is a farming method where crops are grown without the use of pesticides. Organic crops mostly sell at a premium as the demand continues to grow.
However, this type of farming takes more time than the modern methods that use an eternal agent to fasten the growth process.
This is a farming practice where two types of crops are grown together at the same time. In mixed crop farming, the crops grown together are usually of different categories such as cereals and legumes.
The essence of this type of farming is that the mixed crops help to reintroduce nutrients to the soil.
- Conventional farming/shifting cultivation
It is a crop growing practice where the farmer rotates crops on different land sections. For example, maize can be planted on Plot A while next season, maize will be planted on Plot B.
Continuously planting a crop on the same piece of land will quickly drain the nutrients from that piece of land. With time, the crop yields of that given plant will diminish since almost all the nutrients have been used up.
Rotating the crop, or spacing out the planting frequency helps to reintroduce the nutrients to the soil.
- Mixed farming
In mixed farming, crops and animals are kept on the same piece of land. In short, the farmer rears crops and also keeps animals at the same time.
Small-scale farmers practicing mixed farming keep their animals in zero grazing sheds due to lack of space.
Types of farming Ventures in Kenya
- Crop farming
The main categories of crop farming in Kenya are cash crop and food crop farming.
Cash crops are grown for sale since they cannot be consumed directly. Some of the major cash crops in the country include Tea, coffee, flowers, tobacco, sisal, cotton, and cashew nuts.
Just to show how advanced some of these farming is, Kenya is the 3rd largest exporter of tea in the world, after China and India. It also has a sizeable market both in coffee and horticultural exports.
- Fish farming
It is the practice of rearing fish in fish ponds or fish tanks. The main fish kept in fish farms in Kenya are tilapia and African catfish.
With the consumption of fish in the country rising, the returns and demand for fish farmers are also growing.
- Poultry farming
It is the practice of rearing domesticated birds. Some of the common poultry in Kenya are chicken and ducks.
Poultry products are also in huge demand within the country creating a big market for the poultry farmers
Beekeeping is also known as apiculture. It involves rearing bees for the production of honey and other related products such as bee wax.
As a natural sweetener, how is becoming an organic choice by customers who are getting away from processed sugars.
- Livestock farming
Livestock farming involves the keeping of different types of animals. It is mostly practiced by pastoralists in the country. These are people who mostly live in the semi-arid and arid areas across the country such as the Maasai.
Some of the different classifications of livestock farming in Kenya are dairy farming, beef farming, pig farming, sheep farming, goat farming, etc.
Livestock farming is lucrative due to the huge demand and high returns.
Conclusion on Farming Business in Kenya
The above benefits are some of the reasons why you should invest in the farming business in Kenya. Increasing population and friendly government policies are key indicators of an industry that is getting better.
However, you should ensure to embrace modern farming techniques where possible. This is because they assist to reduce the cost of production and increase the amount of production.
Below is a recap of why you should invest in the farming business in Kenya.
- Availability of affordable and adequate agricultural land
- Different climate zones across the country
- Job creation
- Ready market
- Minimum skills requirement
- A wide array of farming methods to choose from