The best emerging agribusiness ideas in Kenya

cut flowers growing in a greenhouse

Are you wondering which is the fastest growing agribusiness opportunity in Kenya? In this list, we give you the 10 emerging business ideas in Kenya. The list is based on the growing number of individuals and businesses investing in them.

Factors influencing new agriculture business ideas

  • Technology advancements in Agriculture such as uses of Artificial Intelligence (AI), agriculture drones and Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Consumer preferences for white meat, organic raised products and animal welfare.
  • Sustainable farming systems to combat greenhouse gases emissions and combating global warming such as Locavore and kitchen Gardening
  • Commercial farming where farmers prioritize efficiency, intensive production and cost reduction.
  • Population & urbanization growth making people to focus on urban agriculture and soilless farming ides like hydroponics

A list of the fastest growing Agribusiness ideas

Based on the above factors, Agcenture predicts these to be the fastest growing investment opportunities in Kenya and other parts of Africa.

  1. Agrivoltaic farming
  2. Aquaculture (Fish farming)
  3. Apiculture (Bee Keeping)
  4. Black soldier fly (BSF) farming
  5. Heliciculture (Snail farming)
  6. Mushroom farming
  7. Tree Farming
  8. Smart Farming
  9. Urban Agriculture
  10.  Greenhouse farming

1.       Agrivoltaic farming

Ever wondered how you can harvest clean energy and food on same piece of land? Your answer is the Agrivoltaics or agrophotovoltaics systems. It is a dual farming method to grow crops or raise animals under solar panels or photovoltaic greenhouses on the same arable land. These solar sharing systems are a gaining fast growth in the U.S., Japan, Italy, France, and Germany.

There are three types of agrivoltaic systems you can practice

  • Using space between solar panels for crops; You will mount your solar panels high to allow crops growing underneath them to receive same sunlight as if they grow naturally. 
  • Stilt mounted systems: Developed by Akira Nagashima in Japan, It involves raising solar panels about 3 meters (10 feet) off the ground to create a pergola-like structure with space below for crops
  • Photovoltaic greenhouses: Placing stilt mounted panels on top of a greenhouse.

According to studies, Agrivoltaic farming systems has benefits for solar energy and food production. Your solar panels work 4% more efficient as they are cool from water released by crops in the transpiration process. Farming areas under PV panels were reported to be 328% more water-efficient from the panels shade. Besides, the systems produce more yields and income for farmers. In a 2019 study, tomato production doubled while being 65 % more water efficient. Chiltepin production tripled. Jalapeno production was static, yet with water efficiency 157 percent greater.

2.       Aquaculture (Fish farming)

Kenya is ranked 4th largest producer of farmed fish in Africa. The current capture or supply of fish in Kenya is 120,000 metric tonnes. The estimated demand for fish in Kenya is 550,0000 tonnes assuming a per capita consumption of 10kg/year by 2030.

 You can consider raising fish in cages and ponds for most profits. A standard fish pond in Kenya measures 25m by 10m. With these dimensions each pond has the capacity to hold up to 2000 tilapia or 1500 catfish.

Tilapia and Catfish are the most profitable species in the country. Tilapia is a highly marketable fish among fish traders and fish traders in Kenya.  Catfish on the other hand are very fleshy with little bones, which makes them a favorite to make fish fillet A comparison of the two species is given on the table below.

Species TilapiaCatfish
Maturity Period6-8 months7 months
Yield400-600 grams2-5 kg
Price per kg$4$5
Fish species in Kenya-facts

Besides you can venture into following more profitable areas for diversification, value addition and post-harvest management

  • producing insect-based fish feeds from black soldier flies.
  • Making fish leather and products from waste fish skins.
  • Value addition and fish processing to make fish samosas, fish sausages, fish balls, fish fillets and fish fingers.
  • Promote cheaper and hygiene fish handling and perseveration products such as smoking kilns, improved fish display boxes and solar driers
  • Run a fish hatchery to breed fish and distribute fingerlings

3.       Bee Keeping

Beek keeping in Kenya is a cheap agribusiness investment unlike poultry, pig or dairy farming. Besides it is not intensive like horticulture farming.

An apiary can make you huge profits if your bee keeping is commercial. As you know, honey is the most popular product. You can use the natural sweetener with different drinks or foods, for example tea, milk, cakes, yoghurt, sour milk or natural juices. 

Market experts claim that you can harvest 50kg of honey from each colony or hive per year. The current price of pure or extracted honey is around KES 500 per kilogram. Thereby, a single colony can make you around KES 25,000.

Apart from extracting honey, you can also consider harvesting and selling other bee products; pollen, propolis, royal jelly and wax, Bee venom and bee bread.

4.       Black soldier fly (BSF) farming

Insect farming is gaining fast traction in Kenya. the common species reared are black soldier flies, crickets and silkworms. The black soldier farming is among the most profitable for its multiple purposes.

The BSF are a source of nutritious human and animal feed and a source of organic fertilizers.

Insect-based food; The black soldier fly larvae are rich in proteins, energy (lipids), minerals and vitamins making them source of cheap food for human and animals/

Organic fertilizers: The BSF larvae can be reared on any organic waste, you can produce them from common wastes easily found in organic manure and kitchen refuse.

Tractors harvesting groundnuts
Smart farming like use of modern tractors will see a fast growth in Africa

5.       Heliciculture (Snail farming)

Did you know you can farm snails for income, nutrition, and health benefits?   Snail production in Kenya is a very profitable agribusiness. Farmers can access a ready market for snails and their by-products, both locally and on the international market.

  • Snail is used to make skincare products such as body lotions and soaps.
  • Snail meat has high content of proteins making it a better raw material for livestock feed to substitute use of fish and soya beans.
  • Snail shells are commonly used for decorative works and carvings such as flower vases, ash trays and other interior decorations
  • Snails have high calcium and phosphorus content that is a key ingredient for generation of organic fertilisers for use in horticultural gardening.

Snail farming is easy and does not involve a lot of costs to start and run. You can rear them in anywhere a rural or urban setting. Snails feed on household wastes, fruits and tuber peels. Leftovers, market wastes is another source of snail feed.

6.       Mushroom farming

Mushroom farming is another fastest growing agribusiness in Kenya. Mushrooms is a delicate source of proteins, fiber, potassium and selenium. The major species of mushrooms grown in Kenya are Button Agaricus bisporus, Oyster Pleurotus spp, Shiitake Lentinula edodes and Reishi Ganoderma lucidun. 

According to recent studies, there is a huge shortage of mushroom supply in Kenya. The country produces 500 tonnes of mushroom per year compares to an annual demand of 1200 tons. Tapping into this market can make you rich filling into this gap. The price of a kilogram of mushroom in Kenya is between Kes 400-600.

7.       Tree Farming

Growing money on trees is a reality for Commercial tree farming in Kenya. You can plant the fastest growing timber and fruit trees to start earning money from them. With the realities of climate change and deforestation affecting agriculture in Kenya, tree farming is becoming a fast-growing agribusiness idea.

Apart from growing those trees, you can venture into landscaping, tree nurseries or forest management.

Small seedlings of Rosemary, Mint and other herbs in Kenya
Running a vegetables or herbs propagation business is a growing agribusiness in urban farming

8.       Smart Farming

Huge strides in technology and internet penetration have made smart farming in Kenya a fast-growing area to invest in.  You can tap into it by investing  in agriculture drones, driverless tractors, sensors and ecommerce as well as use of farm management information systems.

Smart farming is cheaper, efficient and more profitable than conventional farming. You can use labor, fertilizers and pesticides more precisely lowering wastage. Real time access to data helps you to make timely and faster decisions for maximum profits.

You can venture into smart farming as an importer of drones and sensors. You can also be an agro-consultant advising farmers to adopt and use these modern technologies.

9.       Urban Agriculture

As urbanization rate grows fast in Kenya, more and more people are practicing urban agriculture. As one grows crops, poultry and livestock within towns, they can produce enough food to use and sell.

As an investor you can consider various agribusiness ideas to promote urban farming. The most profitable ones are supplying and making container and sack gardens. Besides, you can sell vegetable and herbs seedlings such as kales, spinach and rosemary to urban farmers.

10. Greenhouse farming

Climate change remains the key risk to agriculture production today. Greenhouse farming is a cheaper climate-smart agriculture method for you. This controlled farming keeps your crops protected from extreme weather and pests.

Greenhouse farmers enjoy more profits from high quality yields that you can charge a premium price. High value vegetables such as tomatoes, brinjals and zucchini remains your best option crops to plant in a greenhouse.

Samuel 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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