Grapes farming in Kenya: In 5 Simple Steps

ByElijah Ludenyi

Apr 7, 2023
Grapes farming in kenya

Last updated on March 2nd, 2024 at 05:53 pm

Grapes farming in Kenya has gained significant momentum in recent years, with the country experiencing a rapid increase in demand for grapes both locally and internationally. According to the Kenya Horticultural Crop Development Authority, grape exports from Kenya rose from 2,600 tonnes in 2016 to 3,500 tonnes in 2020, with Europe being the leading market.

One of the advantages of growing grapes in Kenya is that the country’s tropical climate provides favorable conditions for grape production, with average temperatures ranging between 20-30°C.

Additionally, Kenya’s high altitude areas, such as the Rift Valley region, provide ideal temperatures for grapes, making it an excellent location for grape farming.

Grapes farming also plays a crucial role in Kenya’s economy, providing employment opportunities for thousands of people in rural areas. The industry contributes significantly to the country’s foreign exchange earnings, with the export market accounting for a considerable portion of the total grape production in Kenya.

Therefore, if you are considering starting a grape farm in Kenya.

You are well positioned to take advantage of the growing demand for high-quality grapes in both local and international markets.

With the right site selection

Suitable grape varieties

Proper crop management practices

And effective marketing strategies, you can achieve profitability and contribute to the growth of Kenya’s horticultural sector.

1. Site Selection and Preparation

Grapes are typically grown in areas with a warm, dry climate, and Kenya’s climate and topography make it an ideal location for growing grapes. According to data from the Kenya Meteorological Department, the country experiences an average annual temperature of 24°C, which is within the temperature range required for grape cultivation.

Suitable Areas

However, before establishing a grape farm, it is essential to identify the ideal location and soil conditions suitable for grapevine growth. Grapes grow best in well-drained soils with good organic matter content and a pH of between 5.5 to 7.0. A soil test can be conducted to determine the soil’s nutrient levels, pH, and texture.

In Kenya, the most suitable areas for grape production are the Rift Valley, Central, and Eastern regions. The Rift Valley, with its altitude and volcanic soils, is the most ideal grape-growing region in Kenya. In contrast, the Central and Eastern regions are also suitable for grape farming due to their moderate altitude and well-drained soils.

After selecting the ideal location for the grape farm, the next step is to prepare the soil for planting. This involves clearing the land of any bushes, stumps, or rocks that may interfere with grapevine growth. The soil is then plowed and harrowed to loosen it and improve its structure, followed by adding organic matter such as compost or manure to improve its fertility.

To ensure optimal growth and productivity of the grapevines, an irrigation system should be installed, especially in areas with low rainfall. Drip irrigation is the most recommended method as it ensures that the grapevines receive a steady supply of water while reducing water wastage.

In conclusion, selecting the right site and preparing the soil adequately is crucial for successful grape farming in Kenya. The appropriate soil conditions, location, and irrigation system will ensure that the grapevines grow well and produce high-quality grapes.

Also Read: Pilipili Hoho Farming in Kenya

2. Grape Varieties for Kenya

Kenya has a diverse climate that supports the cultivation of a wide range of crops, including grapes. However, not all grape varieties thrive in Kenya’s specific climate and soil conditions. Therefore, selecting the appropriate grape variety is essential for successful grape farming.

Some of the grape varieties that are suitable for Kenya’s climate include:

  • Victoria: This is the most popular grape variety grown in Kenya due to its high productivity and adaptability to the country’s climate. It is a red grape variety that is used mainly for table grapes and juice production.
  • Flame Seedless: This is a seedless grape variety that is popular for its sweet taste and crisp texture. It is a red grape that is ideal for fresh consumption, raisins, and wine production.
  • Thompson Seedless: This is a white grape variety that is well-suited to Kenya’s climate. It is the most commonly grown grape variety globally and is used mainly for table grapes, raisins, and wine production.
  • Black Monukka: This is a black seedless grape variety that is well adapted to Kenya’s climate. It is used mainly for fresh consumption and raisin production.

It is crucial to note that grape farming in Kenya is still in its infancy stage, and the country has a limited grape variety collection. However, there are opportunities to expand the grape variety collection to include other varieties suitable for Kenya’s climate and soil conditions.

Additionally, grape varieties require different propagation and planting methods. Victoria and Flame Seedless, for instance, can be propagated using hardwood cuttings, while Thompson Seedless and Black Monukka require rootstock grafting.

Therefore, understanding the propagation and planting methods of different grape varieties is crucial for successful grapes farming in Kenya.

Read Also: Beginner’s Guide to Okra Farming in Kenya

3. Crop Management

Grapevines require careful management to ensure a high yield and quality crop. Here are some crop management practices that can be used in Kenya:

1. Pruning and Training Techniques

Grapevines need to be pruned regularly to control growth and promote fruiting. The best time to prune is during the dormant season, before bud break. There are different pruning techniques, such as spur pruning and cane pruning, which are used depending on the grape variety and growth habit. Training of the grapevines is also important to maintain the desired shape and structure of the vineyard.

2. Fertilization and Pest Control Measures

Grapes require specific nutrients at different growth stages, and soil testing can help determine the appropriate fertilization program. Pest and disease control measures are also important, as grapevines are susceptible to a range of pests and diseases, such as powdery mildew and grapevine leafhopper. Integrated pest management strategies can be used to control pests and diseases effectively while minimizing the use of chemical pesticides.

3. Disease Management Strategies

Grapevine diseases can cause significant yield losses and affect grape quality. To prevent diseases, grapevines need to be monitored regularly, and appropriate disease management strategies implemented. This can include the use of disease-resistant grape varieties, cultural practices such as pruning and weed management, and the use of fungicides if necessary.

4. Harvesting and Storage Techniques

Grapes should be harvested when they reach the desired sugar content and flavor, which is typically in the late summer to early fall in Kenya. Grapes can be hand-picked or machine-harvested depending on the vineyard size and terrain. After harvesting, grapes should be handled carefully to avoid damage, and stored in appropriate conditions to maintain their quality and freshness.

Proper crop management practices can significantly increase the yield and quality of grapes. According to data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the production of grapes in Kenya increased from 453.8 tons in 2015 to 526.9 tons in 2019, indicating the potential for growth in the sector. Therefore, grape farmers should ensure they adopt best practices in crop management to maximize their yield and profit.

Also Read: Beginner’s Guide to Mango Farming in Kenya

4. Marketing and Value Addition

Grapes are a high-value crop that can fetch premium prices in local and international markets. In Kenya, the demand for grapes has been increasing steadily, driven by rising consumer awareness of the health benefits of grapes and the growing popularity of wine and juice consumption.

According to a report by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the value of grape exports from Kenya increased by 12% between 2019 and 2020, reaching KSh 1.2 billion (USD 11 million) in 2020. This highlights the potential for Kenyan grape farmers to tap into lucrative export markets.

Value addition is another way to increase the profitability of grape farming. One popular value addition option for grapes is wine production. According to the Wine & Spirit Board of South Africa, the global wine market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.8% between 2021 and 2026, presenting a significant opportunity for Kenyan grape farmers to capitalize on this trend.

In addition to wine production, other value addition options for grapes include juice production, dried fruit production, and jam and jelly production. These products can be sold at higher prices compared to fresh grapes, providing an additional source of income for farmers.

To market their products effectively, Kenyan grape farmers should prioritize branding, packaging, and quality assurance. Investing in these areas can help them stand out from competitors and attract premium prices for their products. Social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook can also be used to market products to a wider audience.

Therefore, marketing and value addition are key components of a successful grape farming operation in Kenya. By focusing on these areas, farmers can tap into growing local and international markets, increase their profitability, and contribute to the overall growth of Kenya’s agriculture sector.

5. Financial Analysis

Grapes farming in Kenya can be a profitable business venture, but it requires a significant investment upfront. Below is a financial analysis of starting a 1-acre grape farm in Kenya:

  1. Cost of Starting a Grape Farm
  • Land Preparation: KES 50,000
  • Seedlings (400): KES 80,000
  • Irrigation System: KES 70,000
  • Fencing: KES 30,000
  • Labor: KES 40,000
  • Total Initial Investment: KES 270,000
  1. Expected Returns on Investment
  • Average Yield per acre: 4 tons per season
  • Price per kilo: KES 120
  • Total Revenue per season: KES 4,800,000
  • Total Annual Revenue: KES 9,600,000
  1. Break-even Analysis and Profitability
  • Annual Operating Costs (excluding initial investment): KES 2,200,000
  • Annual Gross Profit: KES 7,400,000
  • Payback period: 1.5 years
  • Return on Investment (ROI): 274%

From the above financial analysis, it’s clear that investing in grapes farming in Kenya can generate significant profits. With an ROI of 274%, a grape farmer can recover their initial investment within 1.5 years of operation. Additionally, with the high demand for grapes in local and international markets, there is an excellent opportunity for farmers to make a substantial profit by selling their produce.

Starting a grape farm in Kenya requires a significant initial investment, but it can generate high returns within a short period. Farmers should consider the cost of land preparation, seedlings, irrigation systems, fencing, and labor when planning to invest in this venture. With the right grape varieties, management practices, and marketing strategies, a grape farm in Kenya can be a profitable business venture.

Economic Analysis

Grapes farming in Kenya is a profitable venture that can generate significant returns on investment. According to the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), the country has a suitable climate for growing a variety of grapes, including the popular Thompson Seedless and Crimson Seedless varieties.

In terms of financial analysis, the cost of starting a grape farm in Kenya can vary depending on several factors such as the size of the farm, the cost of land, equipment, and labor.

However, the initial investment can be recouped within three to four years of planting, with potential profits ranging from Kshs. 500,000 to Kshs. 1 million per acre annually.

Moreover, the demand for grapes in Kenya has been steadily increasing over the years, driven by rising incomes and changing dietary habits.

The local market for grapes is currently undersupplied, with most of the demand being met through imports from countries like South Africa, Chile, and Argentina.

Therefore, there is an opportunity for local grape farmers to tap into this market and meet the growing demand for high-quality grapes.

In addition, the value addition and processing options for grapes in Kenya are numerous, including the production of wine, grape juice, raisins, and jam, among others.

These products have a high potential for both local and export markets, thereby increasing the profitability of grape farming in Kenya.

Overall, grapes farming in Kenya presents an excellent opportunity for investors looking for a profitable and sustainable agribusiness venture. With suitable climate and soil conditions, coupled with high market demand and value addition options, grape farming in Kenya is a viable option that can generate significant financial returns while contributing to the country’s economic growth.