As a farming country, it would be unfair to me if i don’t explore the top 20 most profitable farming ventures in Kenya. Farming has a ready market due to the aspect of food as a basic need. However, this business venture needs the right skills and utmost care if you want to become profitable.
Farming is a broad industry and every product can make profits. Some of the factors that inform this list include the availability of the market, startup capital, and product demand.
Tips on How to make money farming in Kenya
There are various ways you can make money from farming in Kenya. These include;
- Selling farming seedlings
- Utilizing technology such as the use of greenhouses and hydroponics farming.
- Implementing crop rotation techniques
- Adoption of organic farming practices
- Selling in bulk
- Value adding the farm produce
These factors help you to make more money by increasing the value of your products and reducing the cost of production.
Top 20 Most Profitable Farming Ventures in Kenya
Below is a list of the top 20 most profitable farming in Kenya.
1. Dairy Farming
Milk and its associated products are one of the most consumed farm products in the country. Kenya is a big tea-drinking country making milk a common friend in our homes. Some of the other milk products include yoghurt, ice cream, butter, and cheese.
The demand for dairy products has made dairy farming a lucrative venture that you can consider. This has made it better by the availability of a ready market through the well-established dairy cooperatives that buy milk across the country such as Brookside and KCC dairies. With the market in place, your role as a farmer is to take care of production.
One key advantage of dairy farming is you can practice it in almost all parts of Kenya.
To start dairy farming, you need to get the most important production asset which is the cow. Some of the common dairy cattle breeds in the country include Friesian, Jersey, and Ayrshire. These produce an average of 25 litres of milk per day when put under optional conditions
However, dairy farming requires a lot of care and is capital-intensive to undertake. A mature good-breed cow costs over 100,000 shillings. You also need to factor in other capital costs such as housing and cow feeds.
In the commercials, a liter of milk retails an average of 40 shillings translating to at least 1,000 shillings per cow in sales per day. Profits will depend on how well you manage the production costs. However, if you have such 5 cows, it is possible to earn 3,000 shillings in profits daily.
The other main challenge with milk farming is price fluctuations. Without proper planning, this could get you out of business when prices get lower than production costs.
2. Tomato farming
Tomato is a must ingredient in almost every Kenyan meal. This has made the demand for tomatoes almost insatiable. They are also easy to grow and can thrive in almost all-weather conditions as long you give them adequate water.
Becoming a profitable tomato farmer requires you to minimize production costs and good market timing. You also need to farm the best potato varieties such as terminator, big rock, and Zara.
On average, tomato farming produces 35 tonnes per acre and takes 75 days to mature. At the current market price, a Kilo of tomato fetches 50 shillings. Hence, an acre of tomatoes can earn you up to 1.5 million shillings in sales per acre.
The total production cost of tomatoes per acre is 250,000 shillings on average. Learn more on Tomato Farming.
3. Maize Farming
The moment I think about maize farming, something very familiar comes to my mind. Ugali. This is a staple food in the country whose key ingredient is maize. Hence, as long as Kenyans are eating ugali, maize will always be in demand.
The maize market is so lucrative that Kenya is a net importer of the product. The production locally cannot satisfy demand. This is one of the reasons the cost of maize flour has been consistently rising.
One of the key elements to becoming a profitable maize farmer is a big piece of land. Some of the top maize-growing areas in Kenya include Transzoia, Uasin Gishu, Nakuru, and Narok counties.
Maize farming does well in the temperature range of 15- 30 Celsius. It also requires adequate water to grow optimally and takes 3-4 months to achieve maturity. This makes it possible to grow maize for 3 seasons a year.
The production costs per acre of maize average 25,000 shillings. In return, an acre produces up to 30 bags under optimal conditions. With a bag retailing for 6,000 shillings, this gives you sales worth 180,000 shillings and a profit margin of 100,000 to 150,000 shillings per acre.
Hence, the more acres you farm, the higher the returns. One key advantage of maize farming is the availability of a ready market by the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB). Hence, this should be the least of your worries when getting into maize farming.
4. Tea Farming
As a top tea-producing country in Africa and top 5 globally, tea farming remains a top earner for farmers in the country. Currently, millions of Kenyans both on a large scale and small scale are engaged in team farming.
Tea farming does well in cool and wet areas such as in the highlands of rift valley and central Kenya. As a cash crop, most tea produced locally is exported to Europe, North America, and the Middle east.
Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) is the body mandated to collect and sell tea on behalf of millions of Kenya tea farmers. This has made it easier to farm the crop as the market is ready. KTDA also helps farmers access services such as extension services and procurement of fertilizer.
As a tea farmer, you get monthly payments that currently average 21 shillings per Kilo. You also get a bonus payment yearly that comes in July. On average, the bonus payment is between 40 – 50 shillings per kilo.
Hence, in this farming venture, the more you produce, the more you make. Some of the tips to increase production include using modern tea farming methods such as pruning and pest control and increasing the size of farming land.
5. Chicken Farming
Chicken is a top choice source of meat and eggs for millions of Kenyans. It is in most cases considered premium meat and hence creates value in the product.
This is a delicacy that is available in almost all homes and hotels. So, why not take this opportunity to start a chicken and supply the ever-growing demand by Kenyans? At a profit of course.
When doing chicken farming, you need to decide whether you are targeting to produce meat or eggs. This is because there are different types of chicken for all these roles. Meat-producing chickens are known as broilers while egg-producing are known as layers.
You can also choose to venture into the kienyeji breeds that have become more common recently due to their tasty meat and eggs. However, they cost more to grow but sell at a premium.
Chicken farming requires a lot of care due to its susceptibility to both diseases and predators. They also need healthy feeding to achieve an optimal output.
The main challenge with this farming is high price fluctuations, high production costs, and lack of a guaranteed market. These factors could lead you to losses if not well managed. Hence, you need to do adequate market research and get the right experience to farm chicken profitably.
On average, it costs 30,000 shillings to start a small chicken farm. It also costs 160 shillings to raise 1 chicken to maturity. When you include the cost of buying chicks and other fixed costs, selling a chicken gives you up to 150 shillings in profit with a sell value of 500 shillings in the market.
Total income from chicken farming depends on the number of chickens and the ability to minimize production costs and yet maintain optimal output.
6. Sugarcane Farming
As the main raw material of sugar production, this farming venture is making farmers millions across the country. Other than sugar production, sugarcane is also used to make juice and traditional brew, It is also consumed in its raw form.
The bulk part of sugarcane farming happens along the sugar belts of western Kenya. This is where the majority of sugar factories are also located such as Mumias, Kbras, and Nzoia.
Sugar cane farming does well in areas with temperatures averaging 20-27 Celsius also takes up to 24 months for the sugarcane to mature and get ready for harvest.
Kenya remains a net importer of sugar meaning the demand is higher than the current production levels. This creates a lucrative gap for sugarcane farming that you can tap. There is also a ready market for sugarcane due to the many cooperatives that buy cane from farmers in the sugarcane-producing regions.
On average, farmers make 180,000 shillings per harvest season per acre. Getting into this farming is also not capital intensive as long as you have the land. Maintenance costs are also low during the growth period.
7. Coffee Farming
Kenya is a top coffee-producing country globally with most of the coffee produced locally exported mostly to Europe, Asia, and North America.
Coffee farming has a ready market due to the well-established societies across the country. Hence, as a farmer, this is the least of your worries. Your key efforts should be in achieving maximum production and lowering production costs.
According to the available information, you can make an average of 500,000 shillings from coffee farming per acre per year.
Coffee bushes take an average of 2 years after planting to start producing coffee berries. Some of the main types of coffee breeds grown in the country include Robusta and Arabica. The crop also does well in the highlands with frequent rainfall such as central, eastern, rift valley, western and eastern regions in Kenya.
On average, a farmer is currently earning 100 shillings per kilo of coffee.
8. Onion Farming
Some of the most farmed onions in Kenya include bulb and spring onions. However, despite all this, the country is still a net importer of onions. This means the demand remains higher than production creating a market gap that you can tap as a farmer.
Onions farming is suitable for regions that average 13-35 Celsius of temperature. However, if you want to farm in hotter areas, you can consider doing irrigation and use of greenhouses.
The average maturity period for onions is 3-4months while an acre of onions requires 1 kg of seedlings for farmers. Farming onions requires various care solutions such as weed control, pest control, and Disease control.
On average an acre of onions can produce up to 20 tonnes after harvesting. With a Kilo selling for 50 shillings, it translates to at least 1 million in sales for an acre of onions. The cost of production for this amount of onions is 200,000 translates to profits of 800,000 shillings from farming an acre of onions.
However, due to the rampant price fluctuations, this could change depending on the season. Some of the best places to sell your onions include local markets, hotels, and institutions such as schools.
9. Vegetable Farming
As a basic necessity in every meal, the vegetable market is big and ready in Kenya. Vegetable sellers are found in almost every part of the country both in large markets and estates.
There is a wide variety of vegetables that you can farm in the country. It all depends on the weather and market forces. Some of the most common vegetables in Kenya include Cabbage, Spinach, kale, and Carrots.
Vegetable prices are very volatile and hence you need to focus on market timing. The goal is to produce when the supply is low. This includes times such as during dry seasons.
The key advantage of farming vegetables is that they can grow in almost all parts of the country and don’t require a lot of start-up capital. It is also possible to use greenhouses in growing them.
10. Wheat Farming
Wheat is a key ingredient in making flour that is necessary for making bread, chapati, and cakes. These are all common meals for Kenyans whose consumption happens almost daily in all meals.
Some of the top wheat-growing areas in the country include Narok, Nakuru, and Nanyuki. Wheat production depends on the type but on average, you can get 50 bags of wheat per acre.
Wheat is sold in 90 kg bags that cost an average of 3,500 to 4,500 shillings per bag depending on the market prices. The growth cycle of wheat is 4 months between planting and harvesting.
The demand and price for bee products make it among the top 20 most profitable farming ventures in Kenya. Some of the products that you get through beekeeping include honey and wax
These are used in many areas such as honey consumption and the making of candles with wax. As the main product of beekeeping, honey is used as a sweetener due to its natural nature.
With a kilo of honey costing an average of 1,000 shillings, it is an indicator of how lucrative this venture is. Beekeeping does well in arid areas. With almost 80% of Kenya’s land mass consisting of these conditions, it makes it possible to do this farming almost in every part of the country.
One of the key requirements to start beekeeping is a beehive. You can either opt to make or buy one. on average a standard beehive costs 10,000 shillings. You will also need the honey harvesting tools once it is ready.
Some of the key places you can sell honey include hotels and supermarkets.
12. Fish Farming
Fish has become a key source of white meat in the country. The demand keeps growing making the current production levels inadequate. This has made Kenya a net importer of fish. As a fish farmer, you should take advantage of this gap to increase supply in the market.
Some of the most consumed fish in the country include Tilapia, salmon, and catfish. To start fish farming, you need to set up a fish pond and access a reliable supply of water. Fish can do well in almost every part of the country as long as you have the relevant setup.
Some of the main costs in setting up a fish farm include buying fingerlings, building a fish pond, and fish food. Fingerlings cost an average of 10 shillings each. Building a fish pond depends on various factors such as size and quality.
A pond hosting an average of 2500 fish will cost between 30,000 to 50,000 to construct. It costs up to 100 shillings to feed one fish up to maturity.
An average fish sells between 200 and 300 shillings depending on the size and supply. Hence, you can book a profit of 100 shillings per fish in the market. Some of the main places to sell your fish include various fish markets, hotels, and supermarkets.
The more fish you farm, the higher the profits. The maturity period to harvest fish is 6 to 9 months.
13. Goat Farming
The Kenyan’s appetite for nyama choma has made goat farming a profitable venture. The demand keeps rising as consumption expands. This is visible in the increasing number of roast goat meat joints in all parts of the country.
One key advantage of goat farming is the ability to do it in almost all areas of Kenya. However, most of the farming is currently happening in dry areas such as Narok, Samburu, Kajiado, Isiolo, and Laikipia.
The Key costs in this venture include buying goats and food. This will be higher if you are zero grazing them. However, if you have a big piece of land, you can lower the production costs by producing your goat food. It takes an average of 1 year for a goat to mature.
A mature goat sells for 7,000 and 10,000 shillings. The production costs of each average of 3,000 shillings translate to 4,000 shillings profit for each goat. Hence, the more goats you have, the higher the profits.
Some of the best places to sell your goats include hotels and butcheries.
14. Rabbit Farming
There is a growing rabbit consumption in the country as an alternative source of meat to traditional meat sources. Farming rabbits is not capital intensive making it possible for the majority of Kenyans to start.
Some of the key costs in farming rabbits are stock costs. A young rabbit costs an average of 350 shillings. The goal of a farmer is to rear until maturity and then sell them at a profit. A full-grown rabbit weighs 5 kgs and is currently retailing at 1,500 shillings.
The production of rabbit meat is currently very low and hence those farming them have an almost guaranteed market. Some of the top rabbit meat buyers include your immediate neighbors and hotels that serve this delicacy. Some organized groups source rabbit meat such as the Rabbit Breeders Association of Kenya and the Rabbit Republic Limited.
Another product of rabbit farming is urea. It is currently retailing at 500 shillings per half a liter. The rabbit urine is a key ingredient in making pesticides. Some of the top buyers of this product are greenhouse farmers
15. Apple Farming
An apple a day keeps the doctor away. This is an indication of how apple farming is critical to satisfying the demand in the country. Apples grow better in areas with good rainfall.
Apple plants take an average of 9 months to start producing fruits and have a lifespan of 20 years of fruit supply.
This type of farming requires you to have adequate land space to enable the trees to grow and expand. An acre of land can grow up to 500 apple trees with an average production of 200 fruits per tree. In total, you can produce 10,000 apple fruits per acre. In the market, you can average 20 shillings per fruit translating to 2 million shillings in sales per season.
Farming apples start with buying seedlings that cost 300 shillings each. some of the best apple markets include the various markets in the country, hotels, and supermarkets.
16. Watermelon Farming
Watermelons are some of the most consumed fruits in the country due to their sweetness and affordability. You will find them in almost every supermarket, grocery store, and fruit kiosk.
These fruits can grow in almost every region of the country. However, they tend to do better in hot areas such as eastern, Kajiado, and coastal areas.
Farming an acre of watermelons requires 4,000 seedlings that can produce up to 8,000 melons after harvesting. A melon takes an average of 3 months to grow and hence you can farm them 4 times a year.
On average, a quality melon can give 100 shillings profit per piece. Hence, the more you produce, the more you make.
17. Potato Farming
Potatoes are key ingredients in the bulk of Kenyan meals making them among the top 5 staple foods in the country. They are also used to make chips and crisps that millions of Kenyans consume daily.
The main potato growing areas in Kenya include central, western, and rift valley regions. This is because they do well in areas whose average temperate range is between 16- 20 Celsius.
Potatoes take an average of 4 months to mature with an acre producing 7,000 kgs of potatoes. On average a potato farmer makes 200,000 profits from potato farming per season.
The market for potatoes is readily available across all local markets, hotels, supermarkets, grocery stores, and large institutions such as schools.
18. Rice Farming
Kenyans’ love for rice is at the top with ugali. As a staple food in the country, its demand and related products make it among the top 20 most profitable farming ventures in Kenya.
Some of the main rice-growing areas in Kenya include Mwea, Ahero, and Bunyala. Rice is a selective plant that requires an adequate supply of water and favorable temperatures to thrive.
Almost all rice in Kenya is grown through irrigation making it suitable if you are near such environments. On average you can harvest 50 bags per acre with each weighing 70 kgs. Each retail has at least 6,000 shillings depending on the season and demand.
You can farm rice on your land or through leasing. The Rice market is found across all places in the country. Some of the major rice markets include wholesalers, supermarkets, hotels, and local shops. The price of rice depends on various elements such as grade and quality. A key example of High grade and quality rice is pishori. It also costs more than other lower grades.
Although the production of rice is increasing, the current output cannot satisfy the local demand. Hence, there is still a big market gap for new rice farmers in the country.
19. Tree Farming
Trees are a great source of timber which is used for various purposes such as making furniture. As such, tree farming is very lucrative if you have the land and patience to farm.
The reason for patience is that trees take a long time to mature. One of the most common trees farmed in Kenya is Eucalyptus. It is also one of the fastest growing and takes up to 20 years to achieve maturity.
Harvesting trees depends on the uses. If you are farming trees to sell as poles, then you should harvest them when its 5 years. If you are farming for sale as transmission poles such as those used by Kenya power, you should harvest at 15 years of age. However, if your goal is to sell them for timber, it takes 20 years to get ready.
An acre of land can take grow 1,000 trees. With a selling price averaging 10,000 for a mature tree, this could fetch you up to 10 million per acre. A tree seedling costs less than 100 shillings.
The market for tree products is readily available. Some of the key customers include wood traders and timber workshops. Another advantage of tree farming is they need little maintenance and care. Mostly, you just plant and forget. You will only do regular weeding.
20. Avocado Farming
Avocado is the latest wonder fruit in Kenya due to the increasing demand and prices in the market. New markets for Kenyan avocados have been opening up recently such as that in China and Europe.
Locally, avocado prices have been rising resulting in increased farmers’ income. The recommended number of avocado trees to farm in an acre is 40. Avocados can grow in almost every part of the country as long as there is access to water.
An avocado tree requires at least 2 years before it can start producing fruits. However, it takes 4- 5 years to achieve peak production. Hence, this is long-term farming that needs the patience to succeed. On average, an avocado tree produces 250 kgs of avocados per year.
With a kilo of avocado retailing at 60 shillings in the country, a single avocado tree could make you an average of 15,000 shillings a year resulting in a minimum of 500,000 of yearly income. However, your income could grow if you can tap into the export market.
The advantage of Avocado farming is that it requires little maintenance after planting as long as there is access to water and fertilizer.
some of the places you can sell your avocados include local markets and factories that use them to make oils.
Below is a recap of the top 20 most profitable farming ventures in Kenya.
- Dairy Farming
- Tomato farming
- Maize Farming
- Tea Farming
- Chicken farming
- Sugarcane farming
- Coffee farming
- Onion Farming
- Vegetable Farming
- Wheat Farming
- Bee Keeping
- Fish farming
- Goat farming
- Rabbit farming
- Apple farming
- Watermelon farming
- Potato farming
- Rice farming
- Tree Farming
- Avocado Farming