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Orange Farming In Kenya: A Guide To Successful Citrus Cultivation

orange orchard

Orange farming is a significant agricultural practice in Kenya, contributing to the country’s economy and providing livelihoods for many farmers. Kenya’s warm and humid climate provides an ideal environment for orange trees to thrive, making the country one of the top producers of oranges in Africa.

Oranges are highly nutritious and are a good source of vitamins and minerals. They are also a popular fruit globally, with high demand in both local and international markets. The citrus fruit is used in various ways, including making juice, marmalade, and as a flavoring agent in the food industry.

Despite the high demand for oranges, orange farming in Kenya faces several challenges. These include pests and diseases, lack of access to markets, and inadequate farming practices. However, with the right support and resources, orange farming in Kenya has the potential to grow and contribute significantly to the country’s economy.

Climate and Soil Requirements

Orange farming in Kenya requires specific climate and soil conditions to ensure a successful harvest. The ideal temperature range for orange trees is between 15°C to 38°C, with an optimum temperature of 25°C to 35°C. Orange trees can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, but frost and extreme heat can damage the trees and reduce fruit quality.

The rainfall requirement for orange trees is between 700mm to 1200mm annually, with well-distributed rainfall throughout the year. Orange trees can tolerate short periods of drought, but prolonged dry spells can lead to reduced fruit quality and yield.

Orange trees require well-drained soils with a pH range of 5.5 to 7.5. The soil should be rich in organic matter and have good water retention capacity. Sandy loam soils are ideal for orange farming, but the trees can also grow in clay and loamy soils.

To ensure optimal soil conditions, it is recommended to conduct soil tests before planting orange trees. Soil tests can determine the pH level, nutrient levels, and soil texture, which can help farmers make informed decisions about soil management practices.

In summary, orange farming in Kenya requires a warm climate with well-distributed rainfall and well-drained soils rich in organic matter. Farmers should conduct soil tests to ensure optimal soil conditions for orange tree growth and fruit production.

Varieties of Oranges Grown in Kenya

Kenya is known for producing a wide variety of oranges, each with its own unique characteristics. Here are some of the most popular varieties grown in the country:

  • Valencia: This is the most common variety of orange grown in Kenya. It is a late-season orange that is known for its sweet and juicy flavor. Valencia oranges are typically used for juicing due to their high juice content.
  • Navel: Navel oranges are seedless and have a distinctive navel-like formation at the bottom of the fruit. They are known for their sweet flavor and are often eaten fresh or used in salads.
  • Blood: Blood oranges have a deep red flesh and a sweet, tangy flavor. They are often used in desserts and cocktails due to their unique color and flavor.
  • Mandarin: Mandarin oranges are small and easy to peel. They have a sweet flavor and are often eaten as a snack or used in salads.

In addition to these popular varieties, there are also lesser-known varieties grown in Kenya, such as the Jaffa orange and the Shamouti orange. These varieties are typically grown in smaller quantities and are often used for specialty products.

Overall, the variety of oranges grown in Kenya allows for a diverse range of flavors and uses, making it a valuable industry for the country.

Also Read: Pixie Orange Farming In Kenya

Planting and Care

Orange farming in Kenya requires proper planting and care to ensure a high yield. Farmers should consider the following when planting and caring for their orange trees:

  • Soil preparation: The soil should be well-drained and fertile. Farmers can add compost or manure to improve soil fertility.
  • Planting: Orange trees should be planted in a hole that is twice the size of the root ball. The hole should be deep enough to cover the root ball, but not too deep that the graft union is covered.
  • Watering: Orange trees require regular watering, especially during the first few years of growth. Farmers should water the trees deeply and frequently, but avoid overwatering to prevent root rot.
  • Fertilization: Orange trees require regular fertilization to ensure healthy growth and high yield. Farmers can use a balanced fertilizer or a fertilizer specifically formulated for citrus trees.
  • Pest control: Orange trees are susceptible to pests and diseases. Farmers should regularly inspect their trees for signs of infestation and take necessary measures to control the pests and diseases.

Proper planting and care is essential for orange farming in Kenya. By following these guidelines, farmers can ensure a healthy and productive orange orchard.

Pest and Disease Management

Orange farming in Kenya is not without its challenges. Pests and diseases can cause significant damage to the crop, leading to lower yields and reduced profits for farmers. Effective pest and disease management is therefore crucial for successful orange farming in Kenya.

orange fruits
orange fruits

One of the most common pests affecting orange trees in Kenya is the citrus psyllid. This tiny insect feeds on the leaves of the tree, causing them to curl and distort. The psyllid can also transmit a bacteria that causes citrus greening disease, which can be fatal to the tree. To manage this pest, farmers can use insecticides, but this should be done carefully to avoid harming beneficial insects and pollinators.

Another common pest is the fruit fly, which lays its eggs in the fruit. The larvae then feed on the fruit, causing it to rot and drop prematurely from the tree. To manage this pest, farmers can use traps and baits, as well as cultural practices such as removing fallen fruit from the ground and pruning the tree to improve air circulation.

Orange trees in Kenya are also susceptible to a range of diseases, including citrus canker, black spot, and powdery mildew. These diseases can cause leaf drop, fruit rot, and reduced yields. To manage these diseases, farmers can use fungicides, but again, care must be taken to avoid harming beneficial microorganisms and pollinators.

In addition to using chemical controls, farmers can also employ cultural practices to help prevent pest and disease outbreaks. These include planting disease-resistant varieties, maintaining healthy soil, and practicing good sanitation by removing fallen fruit and pruning infected branches.

Overall, effective pest and disease management is essential for successful orange farming in Kenya. By using a combination of chemical and cultural controls, farmers can minimize the impact of pests and diseases and ensure healthy, productive trees.

Harvesting and Post-Harvest Management

Harvesting of oranges in Kenya is usually done manually, by picking the fruits from the trees. The fruits are harvested when they are mature, and their color has changed from green to orange. Harvesting is usually done in the morning or late afternoon when the temperatures are cooler, to avoid damage to the fruits due to high temperatures.

After harvesting, the oranges are sorted to remove any damaged or diseased fruits. Sorting is done by hand or using machines. The fruits are then washed to remove any dirt, debris, or pesticide residues. After washing, the oranges are dried and packed in crates or boxes for transportation to the market.

Post-harvest management is critical to maintain the quality and freshness of the oranges. Proper storage conditions, such as temperature and humidity, are essential to prevent spoilage and decay. The ideal temperature for storing oranges is between 2 and 5 degrees Celsius, with a relative humidity of 85-90%. The storage area should be well-ventilated to allow for air circulation.

During transportation, the oranges should be protected from damage and exposure to extreme temperatures. The crates or boxes should be properly labeled to indicate the variety, grade, and origin of the oranges. It is also essential to handle the fruits carefully during transportation to prevent bruising or damage.

In conclusion, harvesting and post-harvest management are critical stages in orange farming in Kenya. Proper harvesting, sorting, washing, and storage conditions are essential to maintain the quality and freshness of the fruits. By following best practices in post-harvest management, farmers can increase their yields, reduce losses, and improve their profits.

Market Opportunities and Challenges

Kenya has a vast market for oranges, both locally and internationally. The demand for oranges is high due to their nutritional value and their use in the production of juice and other products. The Kenyan government has also been encouraging farmers to engage in orange farming, and this has led to increased production and sales of oranges.

However, the orange farming industry in Kenya faces several challenges. One of the main challenges is the lack of proper marketing channels. Most farmers rely on middlemen to sell their produce, and this leads to low prices and reduced profits. There is a need for farmers to come together and form cooperatives to help them access better markets and negotiate for better prices.

Another challenge facing orange farmers in Kenya is the prevalence of pests and diseases. Pests such as fruit flies and thrips can cause significant damage to orange trees and reduce yields. Farmers need to be trained on proper pest and disease management techniques to help them control these pests and diseases effectively.

Climate change is also a significant challenge facing orange farmers in Kenya. Erratic weather patterns, including droughts and floods, can lead to reduced yields and poor-quality fruit. Farmers need to be trained on climate-smart agriculture practices to help them adapt to changing weather patterns and reduce the impact of climate change on their farms.

In conclusion, the orange farming industry in Kenya has vast market opportunities, but it also faces several challenges. Farmers need to be trained on proper marketing channels, pest and disease management, and climate-smart agriculture practices to help them improve their yields and profits.


Orange farming in Kenya has proven to be a profitable venture for many farmers. With the right farming techniques and proper management, farmers can achieve high yields and good quality oranges.

Through the use of irrigation, pest control, and fertilizers, farmers can mitigate the challenges that come with orange farming, such as drought, pests, and diseases. Additionally, the introduction of new orange varieties with better resistance to diseases and pests has also helped improve the productivity of orange farming in Kenya.

Marketing of oranges is also critical for farmers to realize maximum profits. Farmers can sell their oranges in local markets or export them to international markets. The government has also put in place policies to support orange farming, such as subsidies and market linkages, which have helped farmers access markets and improve their profits.

In conclusion, orange farming in Kenya has great potential for growth and profitability. With proper management practices and support from the government, farmers can continue to reap the benefits of this lucrative venture.

Sources: Kassem, Hazem S., et al. “Factors influencing smallholder orange farmers for compliance with GobalGAP standards.” Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences 28.2 (2021): 1365-1373. Link: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1319562X20306355

Kongai, Hellen, et al. “Smallholder orange farmer access to markets in Uganda.” African Crop Science Journal 28.2 (2020): 267-278. link: https://www.ajol.info/index.php/acsj/article/view/198084

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John Kamau is a highly experienced agriculture expert based in Kenya. He holds a degree in Agriculture from the University of Nairobi and has over 15 years of experience in the field. Throughout his career, John has been committed to promoting sustainable agriculture practices in Kenya. He has worked with small-scale farmers in rural communities to improve their crop yields, implement irrigation systems, and adopt environmentally friendly farming practices. John is also an expert in the use of technology in agriculture. He has worked with organizations to develop mobile applications that help farmers access information about weather patterns, market prices, and best practices for crop management. In addition to his work in Kenya, John has also been involved in agricultural projects in other African countries, including Tanzania and Uganda. He has served as a consultant for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and has been recognized for his work with numerous awards.


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