Chilli Farming in Kenya, The Untapped Venture
Chilli pepper farming in Kenya has for decades remained one of the most profitable ventures in the country. Not only does the crop offer promising returns, but also has excellent nutritional value as the source of vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin C, iron, potassium and magnesium.
Kenya2U went out to find out more about this crop from a well know farmer, Edward Prince, in Ruiru Murera Dam area, who shared and in-depth knowledge on the venture.
Before engaging in any business, carrying prior research is quite essential as enable one to evaluate his/her ability to meet the requirements.
Mr Edward did carry out his research about chilli production and marketing and it has aided him in learning key requirements for both the local and export market as well as to identifying some chilli exporters.
“It is after being assured of the market and learning about the requirements when I went to purchase the Demon F1 seeds as it was highly recommended by my market source. I ensured they are of the required quality” he said.
Kenya has a tropical climatic condition; chilli farming becomes quite ideal as they tend to become hotter with warmer growing condition.
However, research will enable one to select his crop from the various types available, among them Cayenne Pepper, Bird Eye, Jalapeno, Serenade, Habareno, African Bird eye, and Demon among others.
“I invested at least Ksh200,000, from land preparation, soil tests, and purchasing the seed which cost me Ksh30,000, later bought a water pump and yes, the journey kicked off,” added the Petroleum Geoscience graduate.
For him, setting up the equipment, including the drip irrigation equipment, the daily cost of pumping water, the cost of seeds, the labor cost, crop management costs and also the transport cost to the market posed a severe challenge.
He thanks his relative who lives in the states for offering a helping hand.
This outlines some obstacles farmers face given that the larger population live below the poverty line in the country.
The country’s chillies have had high demand both locally and overseas due to its quality as Mr Edward affirms, adding that he has never lacked market for his products.
Picking Your Investment
He revealed that the fruits are ready for first picking after two and a half to three months of transplanting.
Interestingly, picking continues for four months to about a year depending on how the farmer manages the crop.
Currently, Mr Edward’s one-acre piece of land is giving him 700 kgs on his third harvest expecting to harvest more in the fifth harvest, as this is done after every two weeks.
He sells each kilo at Ksh80 when there is low supply in the market and low as Ksh50 when there is saturation hence giving him some good returns all together. A well-maintained crop should produce up to 3 tons of chili per acre.
However, it has been a bumpy ride for him as cost of production keep rising every day in the country with the government adding the tax on farm products.
“The cost of CN fertilizer last month was selling at Ksh2400, and I was shocked to buy the bag at Ksh3200 this month (May). Pesticides prices have also been hiked.
I have to import some from Rwanda and Ethiopia as they are cheaper there and unavailable locally,” he said pleading with the government to review some terms to ease farmers’ burden.
Call to Join
The farmer who anticipates to expand his venture to 100 acres or more in two years urged fellow Kenyans across the country to invest in the crop noting that it’s rarely affected by diseases as compared to tomatoes and can tolerate harsh climate.
From half an acre, a farmer can make a profit of about Sh140,000 from an investment cost of Sh85,000, according to NAFIS.
Mr Edward cited that the market for the commodity can’t be met as at the moment as only a few farmers practice growing this important crop.
In 2016, France was the largest importer of chilli from non-European countries accounting for 13,000 tonnes of the total imports.
The United Kingdom and Spain followed with six tonnes each, Germany with two tonnes and the Netherlands with one tonne.
Anyone willing to venture in this business will need to understand that the market demands top quality and consistent product.
Drying and grading operations needs to be maintained at high standards.
To reach Mr.Edward or know more about chili farming, please write to us at email@example.com or call us on 0742 343908.