There are very few markets where demand exceeds supply. One such market is for Kiwi fruits which, despite being a relatively new idea in Kenya, has taken the market by storm. There are very few farmers who have gotten wind of its valued benefits and you can take advantage of this loophole to make a timely investment. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to go about it.
Kiwi Fruit Farming In Kenya
Step 1: Acquire or Lease a Piece Of Land
Kiwi vines grow well in areas with adequate rainfall and well drained soil. Think about areas that are neither too wet nor too dry and preferably with red soil which tends to be well drained (unlike black cotton soil).
For example Uasin Gishu, Nakuru, Western Kenya, some parts of Kajiado, warmer parts of Central and Nairobi areas. You can start out on a 1/8 th piece of land which can be leased at Ksh5,000 per year or bought for Ksh500,000. Preparing the land will cost you an extra Ksh10,000.
Step 2: Obtain Seedlings
Seedlings are quite rare to find but with a bit of searching you can always find them. Local nurseries as well as online classified sites like OLX are good platforms to start your search.
There is also the option of liaising with seed companies or The Kenya Agricultural Research Institution (KARI) for further assistance. Currently, Kiwi Vines that are ready for transplanting are retailing at an average of Ksh300 per piece.
A 1/8 th piece of land will require about 50 vines amounting to Ksh15,000 in total.
Step 3: Plant & Care for the Vines
Plant the vines at around the month of March to take advantage of long-rains. Note that Kiwi Vines are very vulnerable to strong wings and you may need to invest a bit more infrastructure-wise to protect them (e.g. by building a temporary fence or planting some trees around the farm).
Also you’ll need to invest in a compost manure and some little amounts of fertilizer (D.A.P and C.A.N) to provide the crop with adequate nutrients.
Kiwi plants are susceptible to a bacterial infection known as Psa and so you may need to invest in biochemicals that are usually used on fruits like oranges and grapes.
Step 4: Your First Harvest
The average kiwi vine takes 2 to 3 years to mature and start producing fruits. The first few harvests may however not be as productive but this tends to improve throughout the plants mature life.
You can still commercialize your farm at this time by selling the few fruits that come out of it and healthy vines that you may choose to propagate (Remember, each vine goes for Ksh300 on average, usually bought by new farmers).
Step 5: Take It To The Market
The local market is currently under-served as there are very few farmers who have taken up this idea. You can sell to roadside traders or even approach the big supermarkets.
There is even greater market potential in exporting to neighboring countries.
How much to invest
For 1/8 acre piece of land you will require a minimum of Ksh50,000 and a maximum of Ksh100,000 to start. Cost may however rise if you’re leasing or buying the piece of land for the first time.
How much to expect
A 1/8 acre piece of land with 50 vines can produce 5,000 fruits per year (about 400 Kgs) on a bad season. A bumper harvest can reach up to 10,000 fruits (about 800 Kgs).
Each Kiwi fruit currently retails at an average of Ksh100. In other words, there’s potential for sales revenues of up to Ksh1,000,000 per year on such a small piece of land.
Note that, a single vine farm can produce healthy fruits for up to 15 years of maturity.
There are many benefits of Kiwifruit farming in Kenya, including the fact that this is a relatively passive activity. However, there are potential challenges in that the idea is still new in the market and treading through uncharted territory isn’t always that easy. You should see this as a medium to long-term investment opportunity.
Image Courtesy/ Peach Living Magazine