Is spinach farming in Kenya really profitable?

In this profit analysis, we determine the expected income for spinach farming in Kenya. We use the gross margin analysis method to get total revenues from an average price per Kilogram and total yields per acre. We deduct all costs of production such as the cost of farm inputs and labor to determine the gross and net profits.

Commercial kale and spinach farming is one of the most popular and profitable farming in Kenya.  They sold in all her urban markets. You can consume spinach when it is cooked, or raw, or extract its juice and drink it as a nutritious herbal tea. It is rich in fiber, iron, calcium folic acid, and vitamins A, C, and K.

Assumptions for Estimating Spinach Farming Profits

Related: How to grow spinach and Kales in Kenya

The following are the profit analysis assumptions for growing the Ford Hook Giant spinach in a highly productive region in Kenya. You will grow in an open field of 1 or 5 acres of land without any irrigation. The simple marginal analysis assumes there are no post-harvest losses.

  • The contracted selling price of spinach per Kg in Kenya is KES 14 (KES 700 per 50 kg bag) in the local market. In 2020, the estimated price range for Kenya spinach was $ 2.5 per kilo in the export market. throughout the harvesting period.
  • Grow the ford hook giant seed variety. It is the best spinach variety in Kenya given its yield, pest tolerance, and other features as detailed in the last section of the post.
  • The spinach spacing is 60 cm by 45 cm in a rainfall-ample area. you will plant 14,800 spinach plants in an acre.
  • There are no post-harvest losses, you will sell all produce.

Costs and Profits for growing spinach in Kenya

How Profitable is Fordhook Giant Spinach farming in Kenya
How Profitable is Fordhook Giant Spinach farming in Kenya

Given the above assumptions, the following are the detailed costs, returns, and profits of growing spinach in Kenya. The analysis is for one acre of land. A comparative gross margin for farming spinach in 5 acres is given in the above diagram.

Total Sales Revenue

The best spinach variety in Kenya like the Fordhook Giant spinach has a yield per acre of 10 – 30 tons (10,000-30,000 Kg), under proper crop care. The differences are in spacing, soil qualities, water availability, and other factors. In this analysis, we assume a conservative yield of 16 tons.

Selling your spinach at a stable price of KES 14 per kg will generate KES 224,000 for one acre and KES 1.12 million for 5 acres.

Detailed Cost of production analysis

In this section, we detail the costs of growing spinach in Kenya for the Ford Hook giant spinach or Swiss chard variety. According to the analysis, you will spend around KES 106,700 on expenses. The breakdown is as follows.


You can directly plant spinach seeds in the field or transplant seedlings. You need 250 grams assuming there are 50 seeds count per gm. You will be required to buy seeds, water crops, thinning, and other associated activities to raise healthy and strong seedlings. An alternative is buying mature seedlings from a certified seed propagator.

The best spinach varieties in Kenya include

  • Ford hook Giant
  • Early Hybrid No.7
  • Giant Noble
  • King of Denmark

Soil and pathological testing

Spinach in Kenya does well in sandy to loam soils. The soils have to be well-drained with a soil PH of 6 and 6.8. The vegetable requires an adequate supply of nitrogen, phosphates, and potassium nutrients for optimal production.  To determine your soil characteristics you will need to carry out soil testing at a cost of KES 2500.

Some soil-borne pests and diseases may be present in the soil. Carry out a pathological test to determine if your farm is free of any pests and diseases. Soil and pathological tests can be outsourced to private or public service providers. A cheaper way is DIY at home. To do this, buy digital soil testing kits online.

Land Preparation

You will incur costs of KES 29,600 to rent, plow, and harvest your farm. You require additional cash for leveling the field and making ditches.

Leasing farming land for one season costs around KES 12,000.  Key Factors influencing the price of land are proximity to roads and availability of a permanent water source.

You can plough and harrow your land using a tractor or manual labor. Both incur the same cost. However, mechanized land preparation using a tractor is faster. When done early, it will aid in the solarisation process to kill soil pests by exposing them to hot sun rays.

Crop Nutrition/ fertilizers.

As earlier outlined, spinach performs best in well-tilled and watered soils that are rich in nitrogen, phosphates, and potassium nutrients. Use the soil test results to order the right fertilizer brands and amounts.

To boost crop nutrition for your spinach, apply manure and planting fertilizer like Mavuno planting fertilizer and a top-dresser after a few days.

The best recommendation is to use seven tons of well-decomposed manure. The cost is around KES 2,000 per ton. Each spinach hole requires a teaspoonful (20 gm) of DAP or TSP fertilizer while transplanting (50 kg/acre). After  3 weeks, add 20 gm (40 kg/Acre) of a top dresser fertilizer like CAN to each plant. The second application is done 3 weeks later at a rate of 40 gm per plant (80 kg/acre). The prevailing costs of these fertilizers are KES.3000 for the planting and KEs. 3500 per bag for the topdressing fertilizer.

Apply foliar feed fertilizers and biostimulants. It is best to do it after three harvests to promote vegetative bloom.

Crop protection.

Spinach pests and diseases can reduce your spinach yields. The common ones are listed in the table below. To manage and control them, you will need to spray various farm chemicals.  As stated in the gross marginal analysis, the average cost of these pest control measures would be around KES 11,500 to buy fungicides, pesticides, and herbicides.

Common Spinach Diseases Common Spinach Pests
Leaf Miners
Leaf spot
Spinach Blight
Mosaic virus
Downy Mildew
Curly top
White Rust
Powdery Mildew

Labor costs.

You will require KES 34,200 to pay for at least 300 working days to plant, grow, and harvest your spinach in an acre. You need them to plant, weed, and thin the crops. Other work is fertilizer application, spraying farm chemicals, and making furrows. Additional labor is needed for sorting and grading spinach after harvesting and marketing.

Gross Profits

To determine the gross profits, deduct KES 106,700 cost of production from the gross income of KES 224,000. You will make a gross profit of KES 117,300 per acre in a conventional scenario.

Net Profits

To get the net profits, take away other costs you will incur as a spinach farmer from gross profits. These costs include communication, transport, and scouting costs. Others are payments for cess and levies to the county government authorities.

To determine your gross margin profits per unit area, divide them by an area of 4048 M2. According to the figure above, you will make a net profit and gross profits of KES 29 and KES 24 per M2.

Features of Giant Ford Hook

There are many spinach and Swiss chard varieties that do well in Kenya. These are the King of Denmark, New Zealand, Bloomsdale Long Standing, Giant Noble, Early Hybrid No. 7, and the Ford hook giant. In this article, we have looked at how to grow the Ford Hook giant as the best variety. It has the following seed features.

  • It does well in a wide range of agroecological areas in highlands, rift valleys, coastal, and western regions.
  • It can grow up to 75 cm and a single plant can yield 48 kg per season. Unlike others matures in around 7 weeks.
  • You can store it in a refrigerator for a week and a half (10 days). 

Tips for improving profits in spinach farming.

Kenyan spinach farmers can earn more profits by cost-cutting, following tips for quality yields, or attracting better prices. Most tips are like tips for profitable kale farming in Kenya. Besides, they can observe the following;

To cut costs;

  • Observe the integrated pest management practices (IPM) to reduce the cost of pest control using farm chemicals.
  • You may require irrigation from time to time, depending on prevailing weather. To establish the level of water stress use a moisture sensor or detectors. 
  • Invest in water-efficient irrigation methods such as drip irrigation kits to reduce the cost of water.

To attract higher selling prices;

  • Make sure you have a consistent production calendar through the staggered planting method. This way you can harvest and sell some spinach daily or weekly. This consistency will ensure buyers can rely on your supply, which will guarantee you higher selling prices.
  • Negotiate for a higher contracted price to make more money per kilogram of spinach.
  • Add the value of spinach before the sale by drying, packaging, canning, and extracting juice. Processed products fetch higher prices than fresh leaves.
  • Diversify your leafy vegetable farming by planting spinach and managu (black nightshade), kales, or other kienyeji vegetables in Kenya such as, “mitoo” and “sagaa” and terere.

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    • Hi Onesmus, Dig narrow ditches that are half an inch deep, for the length of your row.
      Space your spinach rows 15 inches apart.
      Plant spinach seeds about 2 inches apart from each other, and cover with ~1 inch of soil.

    • Hi Mathew,

      To prepare seedlings from 100 grams of spinach seeds, you can use either trays or a common seed nursery.

      If using trays; Choose plastic seed trays for sowing seeds, ensuring they have a clear plastic top for protection. Rinse the trays with tap water and let them dry. Fill the trays with a seed-starting mix, moistening it to the right consistency. Plant spinach seeds at the recommended depth, covering them with vermiculite or seed mix. Label each tray for easy tracking. Keep the soil moist but not soggy as the seedlings grow, using mist or a small watering can. When seedlings have their first set of true leaves, they are ready for transplanting. The method is easier

      For normal seed nurseries. Broadcast your spinach seeds in puddled and leveled soil. Boost seed vigor with organic manure and a bit of inorganic fertilizer. Cover seeds with mulch material like grass and riase them when seeds sprout. Ensure consistent Water supply to the the bed, manage weeds and pests. Transplant seedlings at 15−21 days old.

      For more details, see this comprehensive guide on spinach growing in kenya


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