Blackberry farming in Kenya has been gaining popularity in recent years due to its potential for high profits and low risk. Blackberries are a type of fruit that belongs to the Rubus genus and are known for their delicious taste and high nutritional value. In this article, we will take a closer look at blackberry farming in Kenya and how to get started.

blackberry farming in kenya

Benefits of blackberry farming in Kenya

  1. High demand: Blackberries are in high demand both locally and internationally. They are used in a variety of products, including jams, juices, and baked goods.
  2. High profits: Blackberries are a high-value crop and can fetch a good price in the market. The potential for high profits makes blackberry farming a lucrative venture for farmers.
  3. Low risk: Blackberries are relatively easy to grow and have a low risk of pests and diseases compared to other crops.
  4. Long lifespan: Blackberry plants have a long lifespan, with some varieties producing fruit for up to 20 years. This means that farmers can expect a steady income from their blackberry farms for many years.

Challenges of blackberry farming in Kenya

  1. Climate: Blackberries require a temperate climate with cool temperatures and adequate rainfall. In Kenya, blackberry farming is mostly done in the highlands, where the climate is suitable for the crop.
  2. Soil: Blackberries require well-drained soil with a pH of 5.5-6.5. In areas with heavy clay soils, farmers may need to add organic matter to improve soil drainage.
  3. Pests and diseases: Although blackberries have a low risk of pests and diseases, farmers still need to be vigilant and take appropriate measures to prevent infestations. Common pests include aphids and spider mites, while common diseases include powdery mildew and rust.

Getting started with blackberry farming in Kenya

  1. Site selection: Choose a site with well-drained soil and a temperate climate. Blackberries require full sun, so select a site that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day.
  2. Planting: Blackberries can be planted from seed or propagated from cuttings. It is recommended to plant blackberries in rows spaced 1.5-2 meters apart.
  3. Fertilization: Blackberries require regular fertilization to maintain healthy growth and high yields. Apply fertilizer at the beginning of the growing season and again after harvest.
  4. Pruning: Blackberry plants require annual pruning to remove dead wood and promote new growth. Prune in the dormant season, before new growth begins.
  5. Pest and disease control: Monitor blackberry plants regularly for pests and diseases. Use organic or chemical controls as needed to prevent infestations.

Suitable Growing Conditions On Blackberry Farming In Kenya

Blackberry farming in Kenya requires suitable conditions for optimal growth and yield. The following are the suitable conditions for blackberry farming in Kenya:

  1. Climate: Blackberries require a temperate climate with cool temperatures and adequate rainfall. In Kenya, blackberry farming is mostly done in the highlands, where the climate is suitable for the crop. The ideal temperature range for blackberry farming is between 15ยฐC and 25ยฐC. Blackberries require a minimum of 1000mm of rainfall annually, with a well-distributed pattern throughout the year. However, excessive rainfall during the flowering and fruiting stage can lead to reduced yields and fruit quality.
  2. Soil: Blackberries require well-drained soil with a pH of 5.5-6.5. The soil should also be rich in organic matter, with good water-holding capacity. In areas with heavy clay soils, farmers may need to add organic matter to improve soil drainage. Soil fertility is crucial for blackberry growth and yield. The soil should be tested before planting to determine its nutrient status and pH. Based on the soil test results, farmers can apply the appropriate amount of fertilizer to the soil.
  3. Altitude: Blackberries grow well in areas with an altitude range between 1,200m and 2,000m above sea level. Higher altitudes can cause late maturity of the fruits, while lower altitudes can affect fruit quality and yield.
  4. Wind: Blackberries require good air circulation to prevent diseases and pests. However, strong winds can damage the plants, especially during the fruiting stage. Planting windbreaks such as trees or shrubs can help protect the plants from strong winds.
  5. Water: Blackberries require adequate water for optimal growth and yield. Irrigation may be necessary in areas with low rainfall or erratic rainfall patterns. Drip irrigation is the most efficient method of irrigation for blackberry farming. It ensures that water is delivered directly to the roots of the plants, minimizing water loss due to evaporation.
  6. Sunlight: Blackberries require full sun for optimal growth and yield. Farmers should select a site that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. Blackberry plants that do not receive adequate sunlight may produce fewer and smaller fruits.
  7. Pest and disease management: Blackberries have a low risk of pests and diseases compared to other crops. However, farmers still need to be vigilant and take appropriate measures to prevent infestations. Common pests include aphids and spider mites, while common diseases include powdery mildew and rust. Farmers can use organic or chemical controls to prevent infestations.

Blackberry farming in Kenya requires suitable conditions for optimal growth and yield. The suitable conditions include a temperate climate with cool temperatures and adequate rainfall, well-drained soil with a pH of 5.5-6.5, adequate water, full sun, and effective pest and disease management. Farmers should ensure that the soil is tested before planting to determine its nutrient status and pH. They should also monitor the crop regularly for pests and diseases and take appropriate measures to prevent infestations.

Varieties Of Blackberry Farming In Kenya

There are several blackberry varieties available for cultivation in Kenya. The following are some of the common varieties:

  1. Apache: Apache is a thornless blackberry variety that is popular in Kenya. It is a high-yielding variety that produces large, firm, and sweet berries. The fruit is excellent for fresh consumption and processing into value-added products. Apache blackberries ripen in mid-season, usually between June and July.
  2. Kiowa: Kiowa is another thornless blackberry variety that is suitable for cultivation in Kenya. It is a late-season variety that produces large and flavorful berries. Kiowa blackberries are ideal for fresh consumption and processing into value-added products. The fruit ripens in late July to August.
  3. Chester: Chester is a thornless blackberry variety that is known for its high yield and disease resistance. It produces medium-sized berries that are firm and flavorful. The fruit is ideal for fresh consumption and processing into value-added products. Chester blackberries ripen in mid-season, usually between June and July.
  4. Triple Crown: Triple Crown is a thornless blackberry variety that is popular in Kenya. It is a high-yielding variety that produces large, sweet, and juicy berries. The fruit is ideal for fresh consumption and processing into value-added products. Triple Crown blackberries ripen in mid to late season, usually between July and August.
  5. Ouachita: Ouachita is a thorny blackberry variety that is suitable for cultivation in Kenya. It is a high-yielding variety that produces large, sweet, and firm berries. The fruit is ideal for fresh consumption and processing into value-added products. Ouachita blackberries ripen in mid-season, usually between June and July.
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There are several blackberry varieties available for cultivation in Kenya. Farmers can choose from thornless or thorny varieties depending on their preference. Popular varieties in Kenya include Apache, Kiowa, Chester, Triple Crown, and Ouachita. These varieties produce high yields of large and flavorful berries that are ideal for fresh consumption and processing into value-added products.

Suitable Blackberry Growing Regions In Kenya

Blackberry farming in Kenya is mostly concentrated in the highlands, where the climate and soil conditions are suitable for the crop. The following are some of the suitable growing regions for blackberry farming in Kenya:

  1. Kiambu County: Kiambu County is located in the central highlands of Kenya and is known for its favorable climate for blackberry farming. The area has well-drained soils and receives adequate rainfall, making it ideal for blackberry production.
  2. Nakuru County: Nakuru County is located in the Rift Valley region of Kenya and is known for its fertile soils and favorable climate for blackberry farming. The area has a temperate climate with cool temperatures and receives adequate rainfall, making it ideal for blackberry production.
  3. Uasin Gishu County: Uasin Gishu County is located in the western region of Kenya and is known for its fertile soils and favorable climate for blackberry farming. The area has a temperate climate with cool temperatures and receives adequate rainfall, making it ideal for blackberry production.
  4. Nyeri County: Nyeri County is located in the central highlands of Kenya and is known for its fertile soils and favorable climate for blackberry farming. The area has well-drained soils and receives adequate rainfall, making it ideal for blackberry production.
  5. Meru County: Meru County is located in the eastern region of Kenya and is known for its fertile soils and favorable climate for blackberry farming. The area has well-drained soils and receives adequate rainfall, making it ideal for blackberry production.

Blackberry farming in Kenya is mostly concentrated in the highlands, where the climate and soil conditions are suitable for the crop. Suitable growing regions for blackberry farming in Kenya include Kiambu, Nakuru, Uasin Gishu, Nyeri, and Meru Counties. These areas have favorable climates and fertile soils that support optimal growth and yield of blackberries.

Steps On Blackberry Production In Kenya

Here is a detailed step-by-step guide on planting blackberries in Kenya:

  1. Site selection: Choose a suitable site for planting blackberries. The site should have well-drained soils, receive adequate sunlight, and have good air circulation. Avoid areas with waterlogging, strong winds, or extreme temperatures.
  2. Soil preparation: Prepare the soil by removing any weeds, rocks, or debris. Use a plow or cultivator to till the soil to a depth of at least 30cm. Add organic matter such as compost, manure, or mulch to improve soil fertility and structure.
  3. Planting time: Plant blackberries in Kenya during the rainy season, preferably between March and June. This will ensure that the plants have enough water to establish themselves before the dry season.
  4. Planting materials: Obtain blackberry planting materials from a reputable nursery. Look for healthy and disease-free plants with strong roots and shoots. You can purchase blackberry seedlings from Farmers Trend Nursery by contacting 0724-559286
  5. Planting holes: Dig planting holes that are at least 60cm wide and 60cm deep. The spacing between the holes should be at least 3m apart.
  6. Planting technique: Place the blackberry plant in the hole and backfill with soil, firming it gently around the roots. Make sure the crown of the plant is at the same level as the soil surface. Water the plant immediately after planting.
  7. Support system: Install a support system for the blackberry plants. This can be a trellis system or a stake system. A trellis system involves installing wires or poles for the plants to climb on. A stake system involves using individual stakes to support each plant.
  8. Irrigation: Irrigate the plants regularly, especially during the dry season. Use drip irrigation or a watering can to avoid wetting the foliage, which can lead to disease.
  9. Fertilization: Apply fertilizers to the plants to promote growth and fruiting. Use a balanced fertilizer with equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Apply the fertilizer in three equal doses, spread throughout the growing season.
  10. Pest and disease control: Monitor the plants regularly for pests and diseases. Common pests include aphids, spider mites, and thrips. Common diseases include powdery mildew and anthracnose. Use appropriate pesticides and fungicides to control pests and diseases.
  11. Pruning: Prune the blackberry plants regularly to remove dead, damaged, or diseased canes. This will promote healthy growth and fruiting.

Planting blackberries in Kenya requires proper site selection, soil preparation, planting materials, planting holes, planting technique, support system, irrigation, fertilization, pest and disease control, and pruning. Follow these steps to ensure successful blackberry cultivation in Kenya.

Cost Of Blackberry Production In Kenya

The cost of production for blackberries in Kenya varies depending on several factors such as the size of the farm, the type of farming system used, the cost of inputs, labor costs, and the level of technology employed. Here are some of the cost components for blackberry production in Kenya:

  1. Land preparation: Land preparation includes activities such as clearing, plowing, and harrowing. The cost of land preparation depends on the size of the farm and the method used. Land preparation can cost between Ksh 10,000 and Ksh 50,000 per acre.
  2. Planting materials: The cost of planting materials depends on the variety, quantity, and source. Planting materials can be obtained from nurseries or propagated from cuttings. The cost of planting materials can range between Ksh 100,000 and Ksh 200,000 per acre.
  3. Fertilizers and other inputs: Fertilizers and other inputs such as pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides are essential for blackberry production. The cost of fertilizers and other inputs depends on the quantity, quality, and source. Fertilizers and other inputs can cost between Ksh 20,000 and Ksh 50,000 per acre.
  4. Labor costs: Labor costs include activities such as planting, weeding, pruning, harvesting, and pest control. The cost of labor depends on the level of technology employed, the size of the farm, and the prevailing wage rates. Labor costs can range between Ksh 30,000 and Ksh 60,000 per acre.
  5. Irrigation: Irrigation is crucial for blackberry production, especially during the dry season. The cost of irrigation depends on the method used, the source of water, and the size of the farm. Irrigation costs can range between Ksh 10,000 and Ksh 45,000 per acre.
  6. Marketing and transport: Marketing and transport costs include activities such as packaging, transportation, and storage. The cost of marketing and transport depends on the market destination, distance, and mode of transportation. Marketing and transport costs can range between Ksh 5,000 and Ksh 20,000 per acre.

In conclusion, the cost of production for blackberries in Kenya varies depending on several factors. The total cost of production for blackberries can range between Ksh 200,000 and Ksh 400,000 per acre. To ensure profitability, blackberry farmers in Kenya need to adopt efficient farming practices, reduce input costs, and explore value addition opportunities.

Expected Blackberry Yield Per Acre

  1. Production per acre: The production per acre of blackberries can vary depending on the variety, planting density, and management practices. On average, a mature blackberry plantation can yield 8,000 to 10,000 pounds per acre.
  2. Spacing: Blackberries should be spaced 4 to 5 feet apart in rows that are spaced 8 to 10 feet apart. This allows for adequate sunlight penetration and air circulation, which promotes plant growth and fruit production. The recommended planting density is 1,200 to 1,500 plants per acre.
  3. Expected yield: The expected yield of blackberries can vary depending on several factors, including the variety, growing conditions, and management practices. On average, blackberry plants can produce 6 to 10 pounds of fruit per plant per year. Therefore, a well-managed plantation with 1,200 to 1,500 plants per acre can produce 7,200 to 15,000 pounds of fruit per acre per year.
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It is important to note that these numbers are estimates and can vary depending on the specific conditions and practices of the farm. Proper management practices, including fertilization, irrigation, pest and disease control, and pruning, can increase the yield and quality of blackberries. Additionally, choosing the right variety for the specific region can also affect the yield and quality of the crop.

Profitability Of Blackberry Farming In Kenya

The profitability of blackberry farming in Kenya depends on several factors such as the yield, the market demand, and the cost of production. Here are some of the profitability considerations for blackberry farming in Kenya:

  1. Yield: Blackberry yields vary depending on several factors such as the variety, the farming system used, and the level of management. The average yield for blackberries in Kenya is between 10 and 15 tons per hectare. However, with good management practices, yields can increase up to 20 tons per hectare. Higher yields translate to higher profitability.
  2. Market demand: Market demand for blackberries in Kenya is high due to their nutritional value and health benefits. Blackberries can be sold fresh or processed into jams, jellies, juices, and wines. Farmers who have access to reliable markets can earn higher profits than those who do not. It is advisable to conduct market research to identify potential markets and their requirements.
  3. Cost of production: The cost of production for blackberries varies depending on several factors such as the size of the farm, the level of technology employed, and the cost of inputs. Farmers who adopt efficient farming practices and reduce input costs can increase their profitability. It is important to keep accurate records of all the expenses incurred in production.
  4. Value addition: Value addition involves processing blackberries into products with a higher market value. Value addition can increase profitability by reducing wastage, increasing shelf life, and creating new markets. Farmers can add value to their blackberries by processing them into jams, jellies, juices, and wines.
  5. Government support: The government of Kenya provides various support programs for farmers such as subsidized inputs, extension services, and market information. Farmers who participate in these programs can increase their profitability by reducing input costs and accessing new markets.

Blackberry farming in Kenya can be profitable if the right conditions are met. Farmers who adopt efficient farming practices, reduce input costs, explore value addition opportunities, and have access to reliable markets can earn good profits. It is important to conduct thorough research and planning before starting blackberry farming to ensure profitability.

The Market For Blackberry In Kenya

The market for blackberries in Kenya is growing due to the increasing demand for healthy and nutritious foods. Blackberries are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making them popular among health-conscious consumers. Here are some details about the market for blackberries in Kenya:

  1. Local market: The local market for blackberries in Kenya is growing due to increased awareness of their nutritional value and health benefits. Local markets include supermarkets, grocery stores, and fresh produce markets. Farmers can sell fresh blackberries or processed products such as jams, jellies, juices, and wines.
  2. Export market: The export market for blackberries in Kenya is relatively small due to high competition from other countries such as South Africa, Chile, and Mexico. However, there is potential for growth in the export market due to the increasing demand for fresh and processed blackberries in international markets. Export markets include Europe, the United States, and the Middle East.
  3. Market requirements: The requirements for blackberries in different markets vary depending on factors such as quality standards, packaging, labeling, and documentation. Farmers who want to access new markets need to comply with the relevant market requirements. Some of the common requirements include Global Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) registration, and European Union (EU) import regulations.
  4. Price: The price of blackberries in the Kenyan market depends on several factors such as the season, quality, quantity, and market demand. Farmers who have access to reliable markets can earn good profits by selling their blackberries at competitive prices. Prices for blackberries in the Kenyan market range between Ksh 100 and Ksh 500 per kilogram depending on the season and quality.
  5. Value addition: Value addition can increase the market value of blackberries by creating new products and markets. Farmers who add value to their blackberries can earn higher profits than those who sell fresh produce. Some of the common value-added products include jams, jellies, juices, and wines.

The market for blackberries in Kenya is growing due to the increasing demand for healthy and nutritious foods. Farmers who have access to reliable markets and comply with the relevant market requirements can earn good profits by selling fresh blackberries or processed products. Value addition can increase the market value of blackberries by creating new products and markets. It is important to conduct thorough research and planning before entering the blackberry market to ensure profitability.

Uses Of Blackberries

Blackberries have several uses, both for culinary and medicinal purposes. Here are some of the common uses of blackberries:

  1. Culinary uses: Blackberries are a popular ingredient in several culinary preparations. They can be eaten fresh or cooked and are used to make jams, jellies, pies, muffins, tarts, and desserts. Blackberries are also used to flavor yogurt, ice cream, smoothies, and cocktails.
  2. Medicinal uses: Blackberries have several medicinal properties due to their high nutrient content and antioxidant properties. They are believed to boost immunity, improve digestion, regulate blood sugar levels, and promote cardiovascular health. Blackberries are also used to treat diarrhea, sore throat, and other respiratory infections.
  3. Skincare uses: Blackberries are rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, which makes them beneficial for skin health. They are used in skincare products such as facial masks, creams, and lotions to rejuvenate the skin and protect it from oxidative damage.
  4. Dyeing uses: Blackberries can be used as a natural dye to color fabrics, yarns, and other materials. The dye produces shades of purple and pink and is used in the textile industry.
  5. Alcoholic beverages: Blackberries are used to make several alcoholic beverages such as wine, brandy, and liqueurs. Blackberry wine is a popular choice among wine lovers due to its unique flavor and aroma.
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Blackberries have several uses, both for culinary and medicinal purposes. They are used in several preparations such as jams, jellies, pies, and desserts. Blackberries are also used to treat various ailments, improve skin health, and as a natural dye. Additionally, blackberries are used to make alcoholic beverages such as wine, brandy, and liqueurs.

Fertilizer and Spray program on blackberry farming In Kenya

A proper fertilizer and spray program is essential for the successful growth and development of blackberries. Here are some recommendations for a fertilizer and spray program for blackberries:

  1. Soil preparation: Before planting blackberries, it is important to prepare the soil by incorporating organic matter such as compost, manure, or mulch. This will improve soil structure, fertility, and water-holding capacity.
  2. Fertilizer program: Blackberries require adequate nutrients for optimal growth and fruit production. A balanced fertilizer program should provide nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in the ratio of 1:1:1 or 1:2:1. The fertilizer should be applied in split doses, with the first application in early spring and the second application after fruiting. The recommended amount of fertilizer per plant is 200-300 grams of nitrogen, 100-150 grams of phosphorus, and 200-300 grams of potassium per year.
  3. Soil pH: Blackberries prefer a soil pH between 5.5 and 6.5. If the soil pH is too low or too high, nutrient uptake may be affected. A soil test can determine the pH and nutrient status of the soil, and lime or sulfur can be added to adjust the pH as necessary.
  4. Spray program: Blackberries are susceptible to several pests and diseases that can reduce yield and quality. A spray program should be implemented to control pests and diseases. The spray program should include fungicides, insecticides, and miticides applied at specific intervals. The spray program should be tailored to the specific pests and diseases in the region and should be based on the recommendations of local agricultural experts.
  5. Water management: Blackberries require adequate water for optimal growth and fruit production. The water requirements vary depending on the stage of growth and environmental conditions. Irrigation should be done as necessary to maintain soil moisture levels. Overwatering should be avoided, as it can lead to waterlogged soil and root rot.

A proper fertilizer and spray program is essential for the successful growth and development of blackberries. A balanced fertilizer program should provide nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in the ratio of 1:1:1 or 1:2:1. A spray program should be implemented to control pests and diseases. The spray program should be tailored to the specific pests and diseases in the region and should be based on the recommendations of local agricultural experts. Adequate water management is also essential for optimal growth and fruit production.

Common FAQs On Blackberry Farming In Kenya

  1. What is blackberry farming? Blackberry farming involves the cultivation of blackberry plants for the purpose of producing blackberries, which are a popular fruit with many health benefits.
  2. Is blackberry farming profitable in Kenya? Yes, blackberry farming can be a profitable venture in Kenya, provided the farmer uses the right techniques and has access to good markets.
  3. What are the climate requirements for blackberry farming in Kenya? Blackberry plants thrive in areas with a temperate climate. In Kenya, they can grow well in areas with a cool, humid climate.
  4. What soil type is best for blackberry farming in Kenya? Blackberry plants prefer well-drained soils with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5. The soil should be rich in organic matter and should have good water retention capacity.
  5. How do I plant blackberries in Kenya? Blackberry plants are usually propagated by cuttings or suckers. The planting should be done during the rainy season, and the plants should be spaced at least 3 feet apart.
  6. How do I care for blackberry plants in Kenya? Blackberry plants require regular watering and fertilization. They should also be pruned regularly to remove dead and diseased branches.
  7. What pests and diseases affect blackberry plants in Kenya? Blackberry plants can be affected by pests such as aphids, mites, and thrips, as well as diseases such as anthracnose and powdery mildew.
  8. What is the harvesting period for blackberries in Kenya? Blackberries are usually harvested between December and April in Kenya, depending on the variety.
  9. How do I harvest blackberries in Kenya? Blackberries should be harvested when they are fully ripe. They should be handled carefully to avoid damage and should be stored in a cool, dry place.
  10. How do I market my blackberries in Kenya? Blackberries can be sold to local markets, supermarkets, and fruit processing companies. It is important to ensure that the fruit is of high quality and meets market requirements.
  11. How much land do I need to start blackberry farming in Kenya? The amount of land required for blackberry farming depends on the scale of production. A small-scale farmer can start with a quarter of an acre.
  12. What are the costs involved in blackberry farming in Kenya? The costs involved in blackberry farming include land preparation, planting materials, fertilizers, pesticides, labor, and marketing costs.
  13. Can I grow blackberries in containers in Kenya? Yes, blackberries can be grown in containers in Kenya, provided the containers are large enough to accommodate the plants and provide adequate drainage.
  14. What is the yield per acre for blackberries in Kenya? The yield per acre for blackberries in Kenya varies depending on the variety, soil fertility, and management practices. However, a well-managed blackberry farm can yield up to 10 tons per acre.
  15. What are the nutritional benefits of blackberries? Blackberries are rich in antioxidants, fiber, vitamins C and K, and minerals such as calcium and potassium.
  16. What are the different varieties of blackberries grown in Kenya? The most common varieties of blackberries grown in Kenya are Apache, Chester, and Triple Crown.
  17. How long do blackberry plants live in Kenya? Blackberry plants can live for up to 15 years in Kenya, provided they are well-maintained.
  18. How do I control weeds in my blackberry farm in Kenya? Weeds can be controlled through regular weeding, mulching, and the use of herbicides.

 

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