All you need to know about moringa farming in Kenya
You may have heard of moringa before. The leaves of the moringa tree have been used as a food source in Africa and Asia for centuries. The tree is also known for its medicinal properties.
It is a drought-tolerant tree that can be grown in many parts of Kenya. The leaves can be harvested and sold fresh or dried. Moringa oil is also a valuable product. The oil is used in cosmetics, soaps, and lotions.
There is a growing demand for moringa products in the global market. If you are interested in starting a moringa farm, this guide will provide you with all the information you need to get started.
Benefits and Nutrients of Moringa
This is a multipurpose tree that is found in most parts of the world. There are many benefits of moringa. Some of the benefits include;
-Moringa is a rich source of Vitamin A, C and E. It also contains important minerals such as zinc, iron, magnesium and potassium.
-It helps improve the eyesight
-It helps improve the skin complexion
-It helps reduce inflammation
-It helps in weight loss
-Moringa is an excellent source of protein for vegetarians
Suitable Areas for Growing Moringa in Kenya
Moringa can be successfully grown in many parts of Kenya. However, some areas are better suited to its growth than others. The best areas for moringa farming are those that have a long, sunny growing season and plenty of rainfall.
This plant does well in both acidic and alkaline soils. However, it prefers soil that is slightly acidic to neutral. The ideal pH range for moringa is 6.0 to 7.5. Soil with a higher pH will result in plants with less chlorophyll and lower yields.
It grows well in a wide variety of climates, but it does best in hot, humid climates. The average annual rainfall for moringa is 1,500 to 2,500 mm. It also requires at least six hours of direct sunlight per day for proper growth.
How to Prepare, Grow, and Care for Moringa
Now that you know all there is to know about moringa, it’s time to take the plunge and start your own farm.
Growing moringa is relatively easy, but there are a few things you need to keep in mind if you want to see success.
The first step is to prepare the soil. Make sure to loosen it up well and add some organic matter like compost or manure. This will help the moringa tree get off to a strong start.
Next, you need to plant the tree. It can be grown from either seeds or cuttings. If you’re using seeds, plant them in rows and space them out about 2 feet apart. If you’re using cuttings, make sure they’re 4-6 inches long and bury them in the soil so that two-thirds of the cutting is below ground.
Once the tree is planted, it’s important to water it regularly. Make sure the soil is kept moist at all times, but don’t overwater as this can be just as harmful as under watering. You should also fertilize your tree every few months with a balanced fertilizer.
Last but not least, make sure to prune your tree regularly. This will help it grow healthy and strong.
Climatic and Soil Conditions for Moringa Cultivation in Kenya
Moringa farming in Kenya is suitable for tropical and subtropical climates. It prefers areas with hot weather and a lot of sunshine. Temperatures between 25-35 degrees Celsius are ideal for plant’s growth, with cooler temperatures causing the plant to go dormant and eventually die. It can tolerate temperatures as low as 0 degrees Celsius but will experience stunted growth during these times.
It prefers well-drained soil, although it is able to survive slightly compacted or waterlogged soils by sending its roots deeper into the soil in search of oxygen. Any soil type from sandy loam to loamy clay is suitable for growing this , as long as the soil is free draining. It can also tolerate slightly acidic soils with a pH range of between 6.5 to 8.5 once fully established, however this should be taken into consideration when planning your farm.
Varieties of Moringa Planted in Kenya
When it comes to varieties of Moringa in Kenya, there are a few types to choose from. There’s the Moringa oleifera tree, which is the most popular variety and is known for its medicinal properties. There’s also the Moringa stenopetala variety which has larger leaves and is grown for its nutritious leaves. And finally, there’s the Moringa rivae variety which has tasty fruit and flowers that can be used for decoration.
Each variety has its own special benefits that make it stand out from the others. The Moringa oleifera tree is widely used for medicinal purposes due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. The Moringa stenopetala variety is a powerhouse of nutrition with protein, vitamins A & C, as well as essential minerals like iron, zinc and calcium. The Moringa rivae variety is incredibly beautiful, with deep-green foliage and fragrant flowers making it perfect for ornamental purposes in your garden or on your balcony.
Market Opportunities and Size for Moringa Farming in Kenya
If there is one thing to consider when it comes to moringa farming in Kenya, it’s definitely the market. With a growing demand for organic vegetables and leafy greens, you’ll be able to easily find buyers for your harvests. It’s leaves, seeds, and pods are some of the most popular products in Kenyan markets, as they provide many essential nutrients and minerals that people need. Plus, they’re very affordable and thus accessible to people with different incomes.
According to recent studies, the current market size of moringa in Kenya is estimated at around Ksh. 1.2B per year. This number is only going up as more people become aware of the incredible benefits of eating moringa produce. So if you’re looking for ways to make money from your farming venture, this plant could be a great option for you.
How and When to Harvest Moringa
Harvesting moringa is an important part of moringa farming in Kenya. It is essential to know when to harvest and how to harvest the crop properly to optimize yields. As with growing any crop, timing is key. The time taken to harvest depends on the variety of this plant you have, but typically it is 7-8 months after planting. Most farmers prefer to harvest their moringa when the trees are still young and the leaves are a fresh green color.
At this stage, the leaves provide the most benefits nutrient-wise. When harvesting, ensure that you take only fully grown leaves so that you do not hinder the growth of the plant and encourage more fruits for future harvests. This will also ensure that you get maximum nutrients from each leaf. To harvest your moringa, use clean shears or pruning tools as this will prevent spreading any viral or bacterial diseases in your plantation. When done correctly, harvesting is an easy task with little effort required for a good yield.
Pros and Cons of Moringa Farming
Moringa farming in Kenya can be a profitable and rewarding venture, however there are some pros and cons that you should know about before you get started. On one hand, it is a highly valuable crop and offers numerous health benefits, as well as easy propagation, cultivation and harvesting techniques. On the other hand, moringa can also be difficult to maintain depending on the climatic conditions of the area and the rising costs of inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides and labor.
The pros of moringa farming in Kenya include that it is a high-value crop with a potential global market; it is relatively low maintenance compared to other crops; its leaves offer a variety of nutritional benefits; it is drought tolerant and hardy; it grows quickly; its roots are capable of fixing nitrogen in soil, which naturally enriches the soil; it does not require extensive labor or specialized equipment for growing.
The cons of moringa farming in Kenya include that it may require more stringent water management during dry seasons due to its shallow root system; pest and disease management may also be challenging at times; it typically has a short shelf life compared to other crops so proper cold storage for produce is necessary for prolonged shelf life. Additionally, there are high input costs associated with production including fertilizers, pesticides and labor costs.
Cost for starting moringa farming
Before you decide to take on farming it, you need to consider the cost. To begin, you’ll need money for land, seedlings, fertilizer, pesticides and labor. Depending on the size of the land, the cost should be in the range of KES 50000 – KES 150000. In addition to these costs which are one-time investments, there are also recurring expenses such as labor and fertilizer which you will have to bear every season.
It’s important to note that moringa farms require very little attention and don’t need a lot of inputs once they are set up; meaning that when your farm is established you won’t have to bear such high costs again. And of course, the good news is that in Kenya, it fetches a good price in both local and international markets so your returns will be substantial.