20 Most profitable trees to grow in Kenya

 “It’s the little things citizens do. That’s what will make the difference. My little thing is planting trees.” — Wangari Maathai.

Did you know commercial trees planting is a viable agribusiness idea in Kenya? In this article, we give you a list of the best non-fruit trees you can grow for sale. The list is ideal for entrepreneurs doing tree nurseries or mature commercial tree plantations

Trees planting have many benefits for farmers’ health and income. They help surroundings by providing food and shelter for humans, birds and animals. They are a source of industrial raw materials. Besides, forests reduce soil erosion and flooding.

Commercial Tree Farming 

Planting edible and fruit trees like Moringa are the most viable in small-scale farming systems. However, you can make even higher profits by growing inedible trees. This idea is most viable for telephone farmers and youth in towns and Kenya investors living in diaspora. These trees can be sold for fuel, industrial, ornamental, medicinal or fodder uses.

The list of best commercial or high-value trees are categorized into

Trees growing on a hill
Planting tree has many benefits. They provide food, shelter, incomes and improve our surroundings.
  • Exotic trees e.g. pine, eucalyptus
  • Indigenous trees e.g. bamboo and Meru oak
  • Ornamental trees e.g. Christmas, bonsai and palm trees
  • Medicinal trees e.g. Neem, Moringa and Kassod
  • Fodder trees e.g. Leucaena, acacia

Your best choice for commercial trees to plant should have three features to make you more and fast money. Plant the the fast-growing types. These will be ready for sale in a few years where you will harvest, sell and use part of the profits to establish a new plantation. Your choice of trees you will plant must have a high demand among tree consumers like timber yards and furniture houses. Finally, plant the types of trees which are multi-purpose with different uses like making firewood, feeding livestock, fencing poles and timber.

Exotic commercial Plantations

The following are the best types of exotic commercial trees you can plant for sale. Most of them take from 3-4 years to mature. You can sell them are;

Eucalyptus (Blue gum) trees

Commercial tree farming is equated to growing the eucalyptus trees. It is the most popular tree in any region of the country that receive adequate rainfall. They are unpopular in dryer areas since they can cause aridity given their high water intake. The blue gum trees are very profitable given their many uses. The 3-5 years old are ready for firewood, poles, posts and fencing. You can harvest the 8-15 year old for electricity transmission poles and pulp. The older ones of 15-20 are best for timber.

There are several species of the tree that your farm, the most common ones are the grandis (Blue gum), saligna, globulus, paniculata, and camandulensis, and some hybrid species.

Grevillea (mukima)

The Grevillea is the number one multi-purpose tree in Kenya. You can use its mature straight trunks for saw timber, firewood, and poles. Farmers can use it in agroforestry applications for animal fodder, bedding for livestock and making compost fertilizer given its nutrient rich leaves. Since the tree does not cause aridity, you can grow it for shade in tea and coffee plantations. By growing the Mukima or mubariti tree, you can convert your $ 0.1 seedling into a roughly $15 in a period of around six years. The Grevillea trees are ornamental and will give your homestead and perimeter fence a nice rich look.

Cypress

A plantation or forest of cypress commercial trees
Commercial exotic trees (cypress) plantation

Cypress tree farming in Kenya is one of the most lucrative agribusiness idea. Its best planted for timber, building poles and industrial use to make paper pulp. The trees grow to a height of 40 m and you can use its pruned branched for firewood. Besides you can plant its on the fence to make well manicured life fence.

Pine (Casuarina)

The whispering or whistling pine tree is best known as the Casuarina equisetifolia. It is one of the most fastest growing commercial trees in the country. Its grown for its fencing posts, fuel and charcoal. Its other more commercial uses are furniture, posts, fodder, mulch (the dry pines), soil stabilisation, tanning, dye, constructions poles, and, landscaping and boat building.

Cedar

The Cedar trees have a longer maturing period than other exotic trees listed in the article. They are suitable for afforestation. It has high-quality timber and posts. As one of the best ornamental trees, you will better plant them lining the driveway and fences. They got an excellent windbreak ability and are more suitable on large pieces of property to make a living hedge or fence. They grow fast and can be found in a wide range of climate zones of the country

Indigenous commercial trees

The best indigenous trees you can grow commercially are;

Bamboo trees

Bamboo have many varieties and uses. You can grow and sell it as a potted plant for landscaping. Its mature trees are sturdy for construction, furniture and fencing.  Besides, it makes organic apparel whose fibre is non-allergic to make the comfiest bamboo bedding like bamboo duvets and comforters. You can grow it from cuttings or seedlings. The bamboo tree is a prolific vegetation, a single seedling can produce around 60 young shoots in about 3-4 years.

A path inside bamboo trees or forest
Bamboo trees have many uses in building and making organic non-allergic fibre.

Meru Oak

Meru Oak is popularly known as the Muhuru tree in Kikuyu. It is the most valuable in making indoor and outdoor home and office furniture. Its wood resembles the valuable teak tree timber. Apart from furniture and decorative veneers, Muhuru is a good source of firewood and beams. Its over exploitation in its natural forests has led to its near extinction giving you reasons to farm it.

Podo

Podo is also known as the yellowwood. Its blocks locks are fairly hard, without scent, and does not chip easily.  These qualities make podo tree products the best choice for making boats, ships Besides, the tree has many uses in construction, flooring, joinery, interior trim, vehicle bodies, railway sleepers, toys, novelties, agricultural implements, musical instruments, coffins, food containers, vats, carving, pattern making, matches, turnery, hardboard and particle board. It is also used as fuelwood, and it is considered a high-quality pulpwood.

Croton-Mukinduri

The croton tree is found in all parts of the country both rainy and arid. Its commonly grown for its magnificent shade fuel and and building poles. However, its seeds are what makes the tree a possible replacement of coffee and other cash crops. The croton nuts are a rich source of oils that are a key ingredient of livestock and poultry feed production. There are various companies in Kenya that champion croton tree farming  as a sustainable and excellent source of biofuel.

Nandi frame

The Nandi flame is a common ornamental tree in most compounds among the rich. It will make your home bright with its reddish-orange or crimson (rarely yellow), campanulate flowers. Besides, the Nandi frame tree products are used for carving timber, food, poison and antiseptic medicine. Its seeds, flowers and bark extracts is used as a laxative. Besides, you can plant it to rehabilitate disturbed lands through its quick invasion and rapid growth.

Acacia species

The acacia tree species are hardy and do extremely well in drylands of Kenya. They are multipurpose trees and you can use then for Firewood, timber, charcoal and poles. Its edible pods are used for medicine and its an important fodder crop among the pastoralist communities. They use its pods and leaves to feed the browser livestock especially goats and camels. Its a nice bee forage, a shade tree and has ornamental, dune fixation, nitrogen fixation, and soil conservation uses. Finally, you can use acacia tree for live fences to keep livestock, wild animals and people from your farm.

Sandal wood

There is a reason sandal wood is the most smuggled timber in the region. It can be made into sandal oils, powder and other quality wood products making its growing illegal in some countries like India and Kenya. The sandalwood mature for harvest in 15 years.

To choose the best tree for your ecological zone, use the Infonet Biovision guide. It has information on the soil, climate, the tree uses and the expected maturity.

Ornamental Trees

A picture of palm commercial trees

These have a high demand for decoration uses during celebrations. The best types you can raise are;

Palm trees

Its branches and leaves have a high demand on Palm Sunday processions during the Easter holidays.  Are also used in basketry and water conservation. Some species produce the palm wine. It does well in riparian soil and climate zones.

There are indoor potted palm trees or outdoor types. You can plant either the Pinaga, Triangle, Coco Plumosa, Golden cane, Alexandra or cycad palm type.

Christmas trees

A picture of Christmas commercial tree

People use the ornamental tree for decoration during the Christmas holidays. What makes it most profitable to raise is their ease to plant and fast growth. You can produce a lot of them in a small space. There are over ten Christmas tree species you can choose. These are mostly the coniferous types that are;

  • Fir (Balsam, Fraser, Canaan, Douglas, Grand, Noble or Concolor)
  • Pine (White, Scotch  or Virginia )
  • Spruce (Blue, Norway or White)
  • Cypress (Leyland or Arizona)
  • Cedar (red)

You can propagate a Christmas tree from plant cuttings or seedlings. Grow ones with strong fragrance and branches to carry the Christmas decorations.

Bonsai Trees

Bonsai trees are Potted mini trees like the Juniper Bonsai Trees you can market as Christmas or other gift baskets.  A bonsai’s tree price ranges from about $100 to several thousand dollars, up to one million. There are also miniature bonsai that can be had for $20-30. You can sell these ones anywhere in the world by shipping and selling them online more easily.

Legume Fodder Trees

A picture of Legume fodder trees

You will farm these trees as livestock fodder or a source of making green fertilizers in organic farming settings. Leguminous trees are a source of timber, human food and natural medicine. Besides, plant them for green fertilizers, windbreakers, or an attraction for bees and other pollinators. The best or the most nutritious fodder trees you can grow in your farm for sale are; Leucaena, acacia, calliandra, casuarina and Sesbania.

Medicinal Trees

You will raise for their healing properties. There are many medicinal plants you can consider growing. You can farm some like rosemary and thyme across the world as medicinal herbs for their benefits in treating common ailments like the common cold or bruises.

The other medicinal trees to plant in your farm are;

Neem (mwarobaine) tree.

Neem tree is the most valuable medicinal tree besides the aloe Vera. Its other common names are nimtree, indian lilac or the azadirachta indica tree. The fast growing tree does well in many regions. Its best used for timber, fuel, fencing, and landscaping. Its extracts are used to make neem oil which is a safe biopesticide against over 200 crop pests like locusts and aphids. Besides, its powder is a popular ingredient in several herbal medicines or the mitishamba.

Red Stinkwood.

The red stinkwood has has various medicinal use. It can be used to to treat fevers, malaria, stomach pains, purgative, kidney disease, appetite stimulant, gonorrhoea, and insanity.

Kassod Tree

The Kassod tree or the yellow Cassia has many uses. Its fruits are used to treat intestinal worms and prevent convulsions in children according to the world agroforestry centre. It’s also laxative and can treat scabies.

As an individual, business or charity, you can plant commercial trees for profits. Besides, you can take place in the national tree planting days as a CSR activity to push for a high forest cover. You will make more money by adding the value of the trees. It can be by lumbering and making poles, timber or firewood. Other methods are selling seedlings.

S.K.

S.K is the founder and senior agribusiness development consultant at Agcenture. He can be reached at info@agcenture.com

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4 Responses

  1. Julie says:

    An insructive piece.

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    […]  Commercial tree farming. Plant fast-maturing and marketable trees used in building, carpentry and fencing. Once they mature, harvest, sell and plant new seedlings. The best choice trees for timber, fuel and poles blue are Eucalyptus, cypress and Cedar. However, the choice may change depending on your ecological region. […]

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