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Why dragon fruit is set to be the next big thing in Kenya's farming business.

The first time I saw dragon fruits in Kenya, I couldn’t help but remember the cactus fruits we were enjoying while playing in the semi arid fields of Narok. 

Back then, I couldn’t imagine that miles away, in the Asian countries, dragon fruit farming was a major business. 

Back home in Kenya, cactus fruits were only considered as wild fruits, most people oblivious of the health benefits that these fruits had: maybe it’s the reason why I seldom have to see the doctor.

Now, dragon fruit farming in Kenya has picked up pace, thanks to the hawk-eyed Kenyan agri-preneurs who never miss an opportunity.

*Price of dragon fruit in Kenya*

Currently, dragon fruits sell at Ksh.890 per kg at Zucchini supermarket, making it the highest priced fruit in Kenya. Can you even compare that with the price of hass avocado which is at Ksh.100 per Kg?

So this begs the question; why is dragon fruit so expensive in Kenya? 

Of course the law of demand and supply plays the biggest role in determining the price. A huge amount of the dragon fruits consumed in Kenya are imported from Vietnam, the largest producer in the world so far. 

So take into consideration the transport cost, the fact that the fruit is rare and that the demand is higher than supply and you understand why the fruit sells for close to Ksh.1,000.

*Nutritional benefits of dragon fruits*

Dragon fruits are also super nutritious; actually, they are considered as a super-food: those foods that are packed with nutrients.

Let me shed some light on this…

Dragon fruit is rich in essential vitamins and minerals but low in calories. It also contains dietary fiber in generous amounts. If you take a one-cup serving (approximately 230 grams of dragon fruit – typically the average size of one dragon fruit) you will be giving your body:

3 grams of protein

29 grams of carbohydrates

7 grams of dietary fiber

8% of the Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) of Iron

18% of the RDI of Magnesium

9% of the RDI of Vitamin C

4% of the RDI of Vitamin E

136 Calories and zero fats!

*Where is dragon fruit farming in Kenya done?*

Quite a number of people have called me asking, "Can dragon fruits grow in Kenya?"

Well, yes, dragon fruits can grow in Kenya. However, very few Kenyans have taken up dragon fruit farming. Mugambi and Kinoti, from Meru are the pioneers of dragon fruits farming in Kenya. The other major dragon fruit farms are in Naivasha, Makueni and Laikipia.

Dragon fruits thrive in semi arid areas without much problem. Being of the cactus family, this fruit does not require a lot of water. Its propagation is also very easy since new plants are obtained from cuttings of existing ones. However, obtaining the parent material is what is an impediment to most aspiring farmers.

Taking advantage of the fact that dragon fruit seedlings are not easy to come by in Kenya, the pioneer farmers are charging as high as Ksh.2,000 per seedling. This is what has slowed down dragon fruit farming in Kenya.

*The future of dragon fruit farming in Kenya*

At this point, I would say that dragon fruit farming is the most profitable fruit farming venture in Kenya. 

One stool of 2 plants can give you about 20 fruits each season. On average, each fruit weighs about 500g. That means each stool will give you approximately 10 kgs every year. 

If you sell at a wholesale price of 500 per kg, you will be earning Ksh.5,000 per stool. One acre accommodates 2,000 stools at a spacing of 1m between the stools and 2m between the lines. That translates to Ksh.10 million per year from one acre. 

It is obvious that the price of these fruit will come down as more farmers get into its production. However, that is going to take a while considering that the price of the seedlings is still above what most farmers can afford and the fact that the cuttings take a whole year to get to fruiting stage. Kenyans love quick money and most investors are less likely to wait that long.

Most parts of Kenya are tropical semi arid zones, ideal for dragon fruit farming. The market for these fruits, especially in the Asian countries is very high. Locally, the demand continues to grow as more people become aware of the health benefits of the fruit.

As such, dragon fruit farming in Kenya is set to be the next big thing after hass avocado farming.

Content created and supplied by: VinnyNgalia (via Opera News )

Asian Kenya Kenyan


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