Catnip farming in Kenya has become an increasingly popular industry over the past few years. Known for its medicinal and recreational uses, catnip is a member of the mint family and is native to Europe and Asia. The plant has a unique chemical compound called nepetalactone, which is the main component responsible for the euphoric effects that cats experience when exposed to the plant. However, catnip has many other uses, including being used as a herbal remedy for a variety of ailments.

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In Kenya, catnip farming has become a lucrative business due to the growing demand for the plant both locally and internationally. The country is one of the leading producers of catnip in Africa, with most of the production taking place in the Rift Valley region.

One of the main reasons why catnip farming has become so popular in Kenya is due to the favorable climate conditions in the Rift Valley region. The area has a warm and humid climate, which is perfect for the growth of catnip. Additionally, the region has fertile soils and access to water, which are crucial for the growth and development of the plant.

Catnip farming in Kenya is predominantly done by smallholder farmers who own small plots of land. These farmers use traditional farming methods, which involve planting the catnip seeds in rows and manually weeding and watering the plants. The catnip plant takes around three to four months to mature, after which the leaves and flowers are harvested.

Once the catnip plant is harvested, it is dried and processed before being sold. The processing involves sorting the leaves and flowers and removing any foreign matter or impurities. The catnip is then packaged and sold either as dried leaves or as an oil extract.

The demand for catnip in Kenya has been on the rise in recent years, with most of the production being exported to Europe and the United States. The plant is used in the production of cat toys, herbal remedies, and aromatherapy products. Additionally, catnip is also used in the production of insect repellents due to its strong scent, which repels insects such as mosquitoes.

Catnip farming in Kenya has become a profitable industry that has created opportunities for smallholder farmers. The favorable climate conditions in the Rift Valley region, combined with traditional farming methods, have made catnip farming a viable and sustainable source of income for many Kenyan farmers. With the growing demand for catnip both locally and internationally, the industry is set to continue growing in the coming years, making it an attractive investment opportunity for investors.

Step by Step Guide On How To Plant Catnip In Kenya

Catnip is an herb that is known for its strong scent and its ability to attract cats. It is a member of the mint family and is native to Europe and Asia, but it can be grown in many different parts of the world, including Kenya. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to plant catnip in Kenya:

  1. Choose the right location: Catnip is a sun-loving plant that requires at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. Therefore, it is essential to choose a location that receives plenty of sunlight. Additionally, the soil should be well-draining, with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5.
  2. Prepare the soil: Before planting, prepare the soil by removing any weeds or debris and loosening the soil with a garden fork or tiller. If the soil is too compacted, mix in some compost or organic matter to improve its structure and fertility.
  3. Plant the seeds: Catnip can be grown from seeds or cuttings. To plant seeds, scatter them on the soil surface and lightly cover them with a thin layer of soil. Water the soil gently to avoid washing away the seeds. If you’re using seedlings, space them about 12 inches apart.
  4. Water regularly: Water the catnip plants regularly to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Avoid overhead watering as this can cause the leaves to mildew. Instead, water the soil around the base of the plant.
  5. Fertilize: Apply a balanced fertilizer once a month during the growing season to promote healthy growth. Alternatively, you can add compost or organic matter to the soil to provide nutrients.
  6. Prune: Prune the catnip plants regularly to keep them bushy and prevent them from becoming leggy. Pinch off the tips of the stems to encourage branching, and remove any dead or damaged leaves.
  7. Harvest: Catnip is typically harvested in late summer or early fall when the plants are in full bloom. Cut the stems just above the leaves, and dry them in a warm, dark place for several days. Once the leaves are dry, remove them from the stems and store them in an airtight container.

Growing catnip in Kenya is relatively easy, as long as you choose a sunny location with well-draining soil and provide regular water and fertilizer. With proper care, your catnip plants should thrive and provide you with a bountiful harvest of leaves that will attract your feline friends.

Suitable Conditions For Catnip Farming In Kenya

In recent years, catnip has gained popularity as a recreational herb for cats, as it is known to induce a euphoric and calming effect on felines. As a result, there is an increasing demand for catnip worldwide, creating an opportunity for catnip farming in Kenya. In this article, we will explore the suitable conditions for catnip farming in Kenya.

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Climate and Soil Conditions:

Catnip grows best in temperate climates with moderate to high rainfall. In Kenya, catnip can be grown in areas with a temperature range of 15ยฐC to 25ยฐC, with an annual rainfall of 500mm to 1,500mm. The plant requires well-drained soils that are rich in organic matter. Catnip can grow in a wide range of soil types, including sandy loam, loam, and clay soils, with a pH range of 6.0 to 7.5.

Site Selection:

When selecting a site for catnip farming, it is essential to consider factors such as soil quality, drainage, and exposure to sunlight. The site should be free from weeds and other competing plants that can reduce the growth of catnip. The ideal site for catnip farming should be on a gentle slope to promote drainage and prevent waterlogging. It is also essential to ensure that the site is not exposed to strong winds, which can damage the plant.


Catnip can be propagated by seeds or cuttings. Seeds should be sown in well-prepared seedbeds during the rainy season, and the seedlings should be transplanted to the main field after six to eight weeks. Cuttings should be taken from healthy plants and propagated in a rooting hormone before being transplanted to the main field.


Catnip farming in Kenya requires regular weeding and irrigation to ensure optimal growth and yield. The plants should be spaced at a distance of 30cm to 50cm to promote proper growth and allow for easy management. The first harvest can be done three to four months after planting, and subsequent harvests can be done every three to four months. The leaves and flowers of the plant are harvested and dried before being sold or used for processing.

Pests and Diseases:

Catnip is relatively resistant to pests and diseases, making it easy to cultivate. However, it is susceptible to aphids, spider mites, and cutworms, which can be controlled using organic pesticides. The plant is also susceptible to root rot and powdery mildew, which can be controlled by proper drainage and regular pruning.

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The demand for catnip is increasing globally, and Kenya can tap into this market by producing high-quality catnip products. The plant can be sold fresh or dried, and the essential oil can be extracted and sold to pharmaceutical companies. Catnip tea and other herbal products can also be produced and sold to local and international markets.

Catnip farming in Kenya is a viable and profitable venture that requires suitable climate and soil conditions, proper site selection, propagation, cultivation, and pest and disease management. With proper management and marketing strategies, catnip farming can provide a significant income for farmers and contribute to the country’s economy.

According to a report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Kenya is among the top producers of essential oils in the world, and catnip is one of the essential oils that has great potential for export.

catnip farming in kenya

Catnip Production Per Acre

In Kenya, catnip is primarily grown as a cash crop, with farmers cultivating the plant for its essential oil. The essential oil extracted from the plant is used in various industries, including the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and food industries. The production of catnip in Kenya has been increasing in recent years due to its high demand in the global market.

The yield of catnip per acre in Kenya can vary depending on various factors such as climate, soil type, and farming practices. On average, a well-maintained catnip farm can produce up to 2000-3000kg of fresh catnip per acre per year. The yield of dried catnip can range from 400-600kg per acre, depending on the drying process and the quality of the harvested crop.

To achieve high yields of catnip, it is crucial to select the right soil and climate conditions. Catnip grows best in fertile soils that are well-drained, rich in organic matter, and have a pH range of 6.0-7.0. The plant requires adequate rainfall, with an average of 600-800mm per annum, and a temperature range of 15-25ยฐC.

Farmers in Kenya typically propagate catnip using seeds. The seeds are sown in a well-prepared seedbed, and the seedlings are transplanted to the field when they are about 15cm tall. The planting is usually done at the onset of the rainy season, and the spacing between plants is typically 30cm between rows and 25cm within rows.

Catnip requires regular weeding, and farmers often use manual weeding or herbicides to control weeds. The plant also requires adequate moisture, and farmers usually irrigate their crops during periods of drought. Harvesting of catnip is usually done when the plants are in the flowering stage, which is typically 70-80 days after planting. The harvested crop is then dried in the shade to avoid loss of essential oils.

Profitability of Catnip Farming in Kenya

The profitability of catnip farming in Kenya depends on several factors, including the quality of the crop, market demand, and the level of competition. However, with proper management, catnip farming can be a profitable venture. Here are some of the reasons why:

  1. High demand: Catnip has a high demand in the international market, especially in countries such as the United States, Japan, and Canada. The demand for catnip is expected to increase in the coming years, creating more opportunities for farmers in Kenya.
  2. Low production cost: Catnip is a low-maintenance crop that requires minimal inputs. The cost of production is relatively low, making it an attractive venture for small-scale farmers.
  3. Multiple uses: Catnip has several uses, including the production of essential oils, tea, and other products. This creates a diverse market for farmers, increasing the chances of profitability.
  4. Long shelf life: Catnip has a long shelf life, which makes it easy to store and transport. This reduces the risk of losses and ensures that farmers can sell their produce at a time when prices are favorable.
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Challenges of Catnip Farming in Kenya

Despite the potential for profitability, catnip farming in Kenya is not without its challenges. Some of the main challenges include:

  1. Lack of market information: Many farmers lack information about the market demand for catnip, which makes it difficult for them to plan their production and marketing strategies.
  2. Lack of technical knowledge: Catnip is a new crop in Kenya, and many farmers lack technical knowledge on how to grow and manage it effectively. This can lead to low yields and poor quality produce.
  3. Lack of storage facilities: Many farmers in Kenya lack proper storage facilities for their catnip produce, which can lead to losses due to spoilage or damage.
  4. Pest and disease management: Catnip is susceptible to pests and diseases, and farmers need to have adequate knowledge and resources to manage them effectively.

Catnip farming is a new but promising venture in Kenya. The crop has high demand in the international market and requires low inputs, making it an attractive venture for small-scale farmers. However, to be profitable, farmers need to have adequate information, technical knowledge, and resources to manage their crops effectively. With proper management, catnip farming can be a profitable venture for farmers in Kenya.

Uses Of Catnip

Catnip has a number of uses beyond just entertaining our feline friends.

Here are some of the uses of catnip:

  1. As a natural insect repellent: Catnip contains a compound called nepetalactone, which is a natural insect repellent. It can be used to keep mosquitoes, flies, and other insects away.
  2. As a herbal tea: Catnip tea is a herbal tea that has a calming effect on the body. It is often used to help with insomnia, anxiety, and stress.
  3. As a muscle relaxant: Catnip has a natural relaxing effect on the muscles, making it useful for treating muscle spasms, cramps, and other types of muscle pain.
  4. As a digestive aid: Catnip can help soothe the digestive system, making it useful for treating indigestion, bloating, and other digestive issues.
  5. As a natural remedy for headaches: Catnip has a mild pain-relieving effect and can be used to help alleviate headaches.
  6. As a natural remedy for menstrual cramps: Catnip has a relaxing effect on the muscles and can help alleviate the pain associated with menstrual cramps.
  7. As a natural remedy for colds and flu: Catnip has natural antiviral and antibacterial properties, making it useful for treating colds, flu, and other respiratory infections.

Overall, catnip has a variety of potential uses beyond its reputation as a cat toy. However, it is important to note that catnip may not be appropriate for everyone, and it is always best to consult a healthcare professional before using any herbal remedies.


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