govt lifestyle

How Kenyan farmers are making More Than KSh2 million a year from okra farming

Okra cultivation is experiencing a surge in popularity across Kenya due to growing recognition of its nutritional advantages.

This vegetable serves as a rich source of vitamins C and K, crucial for bolstering the immune system and facilitating healthy blood clotting. Moreover, it boasts folate, a B vitamin pivotal for cell growth and development, alongside magnesium, essential for proper nerve and muscle function.

Beyond its nutritional profile, okra is packed with antioxidants that shield the body from cell damage and inflammation, pivotal in combating chronic ailments like cancer and heart disease. Versatility characterizes its culinary utility, being utilized in soups, stews, pickled snacks, and smoothies. Available in diverse varieties such as Clemson Spineless, Burgundy, Lee, Louisiana Green Velvet, and Emerald, Clemson Spineless stands out as a Kenyan favorite, noted for its high yield and adaptability to warm climates.

Success in okra farming hinges on selecting top-notch seeds tailored to local conditions and adhering to best agricultural practices from planting through harvesting. Acquiring disease-free, high-quality seeds from agricultural outlets or seed companies is recommended. Planting between October and December or alternatively in January and February aligns with optimal growing conditions. Harvesting typically commences 50-60 days post-planting, necessitating regular harvesting to maintain continuous production.

The market for okra spans both domestic and international arenas, encompassing supermarkets, open-air markets, eateries, vegetable vendors, and export firms. Export destinations include the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. Yield per acre ranges between 5,000 to 8,000 kilograms per season, contingent upon factors like soil fertility, pest control, and irrigation.

Okra prices fluctuate seasonally and geographically, with peaks witnessing prices as low as Kshs. 80 per kilogram, escalating to Kshs. 300 per kilogram during periods of heightened demand. Notably, farmer Paul Otieno from Kisumu County attests to the profitability of okra farming, yielding an estimated KSh 2 million net income per season across his 1.5-acre plots. Employing a rotation system, Otieno cultivates the high-yield “Pusa sawani” variety, realizing weekly harvests of 950 kilograms. His distribution strategy encompasses exports to South Sudan, supply to the Great Lakes University of Kisumu (GLUK), and local market vending.

Both fresh and dried okra variants fetch revenue, with dried okra commanding higher prices at KSh 300 per kilogram compared to fresh at KSh 80 per kilogram. Otieno’s weekly earnings from dried okra total KSh 180,000, complemented by KSh 4,000 from fresh produce, translating to a monthly income of Sh736,000. With the harvest period spanning three months, Otieno’s gross income amounts to KSh 2,208,000 per season, yielding approximately KSh 1.1 million in profit.