After carefully researching on numerous farming ventures that most young Kenyans have tried, we came up with a list of a few profitable crops that you can farm. These take six months or less to harvest and they can be very profitable if done in the right manner
Please note that if you want to go in to farming for business, you should take it very seriously. Most people think its an easy way of making quick money but it requires a lot of patience, good farming practices and market research.
As a rule of thumb, make sure that you try to have ready produce when there is very little of it in the market. For example, make sure your tomatoes are ripe for harvest when most of the other farmers are planting theirs. One of the methods you can use to achieve this is planting just before a long dry season if you have enough water.
Here are some of the crops that make you good money if you do your homework properly
1. Onion Farming in Kenya – With good farming practices, you can make Sh 800,000 from one acre of onions in less than 6 months
Most people have claimed that you can make money from onions in three months – I will first tell you this important fact about onions: You can’t harvest onions 3 months after planting. You need at least 5 months if you want to make good money – 2 months in the seedbed, then transplant and wait for 3 months for them to mature completely
Red onion farming in Kenya is a very viable option if you want to make money from farming in a short time. According to a report that was done by the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) in 2014, Kenya gets about 50% of its onions from Tanzania. This means, the demand for onions outweighs supply by a huge margin.
Depending on the season, the price of onions fluctuates from as low as Sh 35 per kg to as much as Sh 90 per kg. This all depends on the farmer’s timing. Its common knowledge among onion farmers that if your harvesting time coincides with that of the Tanzanians, the price is usually very low since their onions literally flood the Kenyan market. The prices are usually good between November – May.
Onion farming is usually successful in well-drained fertile soils rich in humus with the pH ranging from 5.8-6.5. The most common red onion varieties grown in Kenya include Jambar F1, Islero, Red creole, Red Passion and Red Pinnoy.
Popular high yielding onion varieties in Kenya
Jambar F1 yield per acre : This is a high yielding bulb onion variety by the Monsanto Company. The company says that with good farming practices, one can get about 23 Tonnes per acre – Meaning, for Sh 40/kg, one can make Sh 920,000 (gross) in 5 months. Your profit will depend on the inputs. However, this variety is not very attractive to buyers due to the large size of the onions
Red Pinoy F1 yield per acre : This is a high yielding medium size bulb onion variety by Royal Seeds . According to the data sheet on their website, they say that one acre of Red Pinoy has potential of yielding between 25-30 tonnes. This has high market demand due to its medium size.
Bombay red onions yield per acre : This variety has a lower yield per acre compared to Jambar F1 and Red Pinoy but its on high demand due to its hardiness and medium size. With good farming practices, Bombay F1 can yield about 7 tonnes per acre.
Red Passion F1 onions yield per acre : This is a high yielding variety and its also in high demand like Pinoy and Bombay above. With good farming practices, you can get between 15-22 tonnes from the Red Passion variety
2. Tomato Farming in Kenya – With good farming practices, you can make Sh 1.3m from an acre of tomatoes in less than 5 months
Tomatoes are another high yielding crop that can be very profitable if done in the right way. Harvesting starts 3 months after transplanting and can go on for several more weeks depending on the variety
Tomato farming is more labour intensive than onion farming. Tomatoes are also more sensitive to harsh weather and they have more pests and diseases than onions.
Farmers who practice tomato farming in a greenhouse have reported that its less stressful, compared to those who practice open field farming. Greenhouse tomato farming is better in terms of water conservation. The greenhouse farmer also uses less chemicals on his/her plants because they are not exposed to harsh weather and pests like those in the open field.
However, for a long time, most farmers have been made to believe that greenhouse tomatoes are laden with chemicals and they fetch lower prices. This is not true! Actually their open-field rivals need to be sprayed on a regular basis to keep away diseases and pests.
The other great thing about greenhouse tomato farming in Kenya is market timing. Planting your crops in a greenhouse gives you freedom because you can plant any time of the year, as long as you have water storage. So its very easy to do your farming even during the longest dry seasons, when other farmers to rely on rain or fallow / overhead irrigation are not farming.
Common and High Yielding tomato varieties that you can plant and make good money in less than 5 months
Open Field Tomato varieties
Cal J Tomatos – Though not high yielding, this is one of the most popular open field tomato varieties in the Kenyan market produced by the Kenya Seed Company. On their website, they say its the common “kamongo” type and can yield between 10-12 tonnes per acre
Riogrande tomato variety – This is another popular open field tomato variety, also by the Kenya Seed company. It has better yield per acre compare to Cal J . With good farming practices one can harvest up to 18 tonnes per acre.
Rambo F1 tomato variety in Kenya – This is s high yielding open field hybrid tomato variety by Royalseed