Beyond the familiar crops that have graced Kenyan fields for generations, farmers are experiencing a new wave of prosperity in fruits farming.
The secret? Rare fruits that were once ignored are now valued commodities for Kenyan farmers, enhancing the lives of those who grow them and earning them millions.
Although some of these fruits are not indigenously grown in Kenya, their health benefits and nutritious value are making them more and more popular among Kenyans.
Those who are benefiting the most, however, are those who have decided to cultivate and sell them.
Kenya is seeing an increase in the popularity of dragon fruit farming because of the high returns and low maintenance costs.
Most of the dragon fruits that Kenya’s elites eat are imported from Vietnam, which is currently the world’s largest producer.
However, because of the strong demand for exports, those cultivated on farms in Kenya hardly ever reach the shelves.
Notably, the cost of growing dragon fruit is predicted to decline over time, even as more farmers adopt this practice.
At Ksh800 per kilogram in uptown supermarkets, dragon fruit is currently one of the most expensive fruits in the country.
However, experts in agriculture believe that farmers could still make up to Ksh10 million per acre annually, even if the price drops to Ksh400 per kilogram.
A number of other variables, such as appropriate maintenance, favorable market conditions, and a ready export market for dragon fruit growers, will also affect the earnings.
Farmers in various parts of Kenya, especially those in the western and coastal regions, are making millions from growing Jack fruit.
The fruit is roughly oblong in shape and slightly larger than watermelon and was first cultivated in Asia.
Unlike other crops, jack fruit can withstand drought and thrives in sandy or loamy soils with good drainage.
Up to 300 fruits can be produced by this unusual plant. A single fruit can vary in weight from five to forty kilograms based on its size.
So, within one year, a farmer can make Ksh450,000 and roughly half a million from 10 trees.
In Kenya, African Horned Cucumbers, also called thorned melons, are becoming more and more popular.
Despite its bland taste, a growing number of farmers are cultivating it because of the high demand from consumers drawn to it by its many health benefits.
Because of its extreme climate adaptability, the fruit yields enormous returns. It thrives in hot, humid, semi-arid climates as well as high altitude locations.
The fruit also helps people who have indigestion due to its fibre content which prevents constipation and bloating.
Its tasteless flesh and numerous prickly protrusions on its mottled skin have earned it the nickname “passion mwitu” in Kenya.
Passion Mwitu is also rich in zinc and calcium which are necessary for the growth of healthy and strong bones.
Thorned melons have also been found to be low in cholesterol which is recommended in keeping the heart healthy.
Due to its high profitability, persimmon fruit farming is quickly gaining popularity in Kenya, with agricultural consultants projecting that a farmer can earn up to Ksh29 million per acre.
The adaptability of the plant to different climatic conditions greatly increases the profitability of the fruit.
The plant requires a temperate climate with temperatures ranging from 20 to 35 degrees Celsius.
The plant requires well-drained, deep soil that is rich in organic matter. For optimal fruit production, the pH of the soil should be between 6.0 and 7.5.
Irrigation allows the fruit to grow in arid and semi-arid areas of Kenya, as the trees require consistent and adequate moisture throughout the growing season.