Herb farming is becoming an increasingly popular venture in Kenya due to its high profitability and low investment costs. With the growing demand for herbs both locally and internationally, herb farming has become a lucrative opportunity for Kenyan farmers.
According to recent reports, a quarter of an acre of land can generate approximately 30 kilograms of herbs, which can bring in a monthly income of Ksh 30,000. This has attracted many farmers to venture into herb farming as an alternative source of income. The herbs with the highest demand include basil, chives, cilantro, oregano, rosemary, mint, and thyme.
Herb farming in Kenya is not only profitable but also environmentally friendly. It requires less water and fertilizer than traditional crops, making it a sustainable way to farm. Additionally, herbs have numerous health benefits and are widely used in the food and beverage industry, making them a valuable commodity in the market. As a result, there is a growing trend towards herb farming in Kenya, with more and more farmers embracing this venture as a means of income generation.
Benefits of Herb Farming in Kenya
Herb farming has become a growing trend in Kenya, and for good reason. Here are some of the benefits of herb farming in Kenya:
- Profitability: Herb farming is a profitable venture in Kenya, with a quarter of an acre of land generating approximately 30 kilograms of herbs, which can bring in a monthly income of Ksh 30,000.
- High demand: There is a high demand for Kenyan herbs both locally and internationally, making it a lucrative market for farmers.
- Low capital investment: Herb farming requires a relatively low capital investment, making it accessible to small-scale farmers.
- Health benefits: Herbs have various health benefits and are used in the production of herbal medicine and supplements.
- Diversification: Herb farming provides farmers with an opportunity to diversify their crops and income streams, reducing their reliance on a single crop.
Furthermore, the Kenyan government and various organizations are providing support to farmers in the herbs and spices value chain, addressing issues such as post-harvest management, Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), market access, and aflatoxin. This support is likely to directly or indirectly benefit farmers and increase the profitability of herb farming in Kenya.
Popular Herbs Grown in Kenya
Kenya has a favorable climate for growing a wide variety of herbs. With the growing demand for herbs both locally and internationally, many farmers in Kenya are turning to herb farming as a profitable venture. Here are some of the popular herbs grown in Kenya:
- Basil: Basil is a popular herb used in many cuisines around the world. It is easy to grow and can be grown in pots or in the ground. Basil is used in many dishes, including pasta, pizza, and salads.
- Mint: Mint is another popular herb grown in Kenya. It is used in many dishes, including teas, salads, and desserts. Mint is easy to grow and can be grown in pots or in the ground.
- Oregano: Oregano is a popular herb used in Italian and Mediterranean cuisines. It is easy to grow and can be grown in pots or in the ground. Oregano is used in many dishes, including pizza, pasta, and salads.
- Thyme: Thyme is a popular herb used in many cuisines around the world. It is easy to grow and can be grown in pots or in the ground. Thyme is used in many dishes, including soups, stews, and roasted meats.
- Coriander: Coriander, also known as cilantro, is a popular herb used in many cuisines around the world. It is easy to grow and can be grown in pots or in the ground. Coriander is used in many dishes, including curries, salsas, and salads.
- Dill: Dill is a popular herb used in many cuisines around the world. It is easy to grow and can be grown in pots or in the ground. Dill is used in many dishes, including pickles, fish dishes, and soups.
- Rosemary: Rosemary is a popular herb used in Mediterranean cuisines. It is easy to grow and can be grown in pots or in the ground. Rosemary is used in many dishes, including roasted meats, potatoes, and bread.
These are just a few of the many herbs grown in Kenya. With the growing demand for herbs both locally and internationally, herb farming is becoming a lucrative venture for many farmers in Kenya.
Also Read: Basil Farming In Kenya
Challenges Faced by Herb Farmers in Kenya
While the herb farming industry in Kenya is growing, there are still several challenges that farmers face. These challenges include:
- Limited access to markets: Many herb farmers in Kenya struggle to find reliable buyers for their products. This can be due to a lack of market information, limited transportation infrastructure, and inconsistent demand from buyers.
- Poor quality seeds: Farmers often struggle to find quality seeds for their herb crops. This can lead to lower yields and decreased profitability.
- Climate change: As with many other types of farming, herb farmers in Kenya are also affected by climate change. Erratic rainfall patterns and rising temperatures can make it difficult to grow healthy crops.
- Limited access to credit: Many herb farmers in Kenya struggle to access credit to invest in their farms. This can make it difficult to purchase necessary equipment and supplies, and can limit their ability to expand their operations.
- Limited technical knowledge: Some herb farmers in Kenya lack the technical knowledge and skills needed to grow their crops effectively. This can lead to lower yields and decreased profitability.
Despite these challenges, many herb farmers in Kenya are finding ways to overcome them and build successful businesses. Initiatives like the MARKUP project, which provides capacity support to farmers in the herbs and spices value chain, are helping to empower farmers and improve their access to markets.
Government Support for Herb Farming in Kenya
The Kenyan government has recognized the potential of herb farming as a lucrative venture for smallholder farmers. As a result, it has implemented several initiatives to support and promote the growth of the industry.
One of the initiatives is the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), which provides technical support and training to farmers on best practices in herb farming. The organization also conducts research on new varieties of herbs that are suitable for local conditions and helps farmers access markets for their produce.
Another initiative is the Market Access Upgrade Program (MARKUP), which is a partnership between the Kenyan government and the European Union. The program aims to improve the competitiveness of the agricultural sector in Kenya by promoting value addition, improving market access, and enhancing the capacity of smallholder farmers. Under the program, farmers in 12 counties have received support to produce export-oriented herbs such as basil, coriander, dill, sage, and mint.
The government has also established the Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency (KEPROBA) to promote the export of Kenyan agricultural products, including herbs. The agency provides market intelligence and facilitates trade missions and exhibitions to promote Kenyan herbs in international markets.
In addition, the government has put in place policies and regulations to govern the production and trade of herbs. For instance, the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) regulates the import and export of herbs to ensure compliance with international standards and prevent the spread of pests and diseases.
Overall, the Kenyan government’s support for herb farming has enabled smallholder farmers to diversify their income sources and improve their livelihoods. With continued support, the industry has the potential to contribute significantly to the country’s economic growth and development.
Future Outlook for Herb Farming in Kenya
Herb farming in Kenya is a growing trend that has the potential to create employment and income, especially for young people. The farming of herbs and spices has captured international markets while creating a new age farming renaissance in an area that has traditionally been synonymous with farming of traditional low yielding crops like maize and beans.
According to experts, herbs farming is a venture that is yet to be exploited, yet it can create employment and income, especially for young people. Ruth Munyoro, an agronomist who specializes in herbs, says that the farming is simple as long as the farmer is well prepared.
The future outlook for herb farming in Kenya is bright. With the increasing demand for herbs and spices in international markets, there is a need for more farmers to venture into this area. Initiatives designed specifically to empower women and the youth are ongoing under the MARKUP project. Both the women group and farmers are likely to directly or indirectly benefit from capacity support in the herbs and spices value chain in 12 counties in Kenya.
However, there are challenges that need to be addressed. One of the major challenges is the lack of access to markets. Farmers need to be connected to markets to ensure that they get good prices for their produce. The government and other stakeholders need to come up with strategies to help farmers access markets both locally and internationally.
In conclusion, the future outlook for herb farming in Kenya is promising. With the right support and strategies, farmers can tap into the growing demand for herbs and spices in international markets and improve their income and livelihoods.
Sources: Muriuki, Jonathan, et al. “Formalisation of local herbal product markets has potential to stimulate cultivation of medicinal plants by smallholder farmers in Kenya.” Forests, Trees and Livelihoods 21.2 (2012): 114-127. Link: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14728028.2012.721959
Njoroge, Grace N., and Rainer W. Bussmann. “Herbal usage and informant consensus in ethnoveterinary management of cattle diseases among the Kikuyus (Central Kenya).” Journal of ethnopharmacology 108.3 (2006): 332-339. Link: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378874106002819