The Basics of Kiwi Fruit Farming in Kenya

While Kenya has an ideal tropical climate for kiwi fruit farming, many people do not have the information necessary for the successful growing of this fruit. Even up to the year 2021, the ones that we buy today here in Kenya are mostly imported from Italy, India and China.  
kiwi fruit farming in kenya

Wouldn’t it be great to produce our own kiwi fruits? Well we are glad that a good number of farmers are interested and have put efforts towards growing them. These interested farmers have sent us some common questions; you probably have the same questions too, so we have compiled them here and given you the answers. We would like to see you grow your own kiwi fruits too so here is what you need to know:

1. In which climate does kiwi fruit grow?
Kiwis will thrive in cool or cold climates of the Kenyan highlands where temperatures sometime fall below 10℃. So if you are in the central highlands (Kiambu, Nyandarua, Meru and Nyeri), the Rift Valley highlands (Eldoret, Kericho, Bomet and Nandi hills) or the western highland (Kisii and areas near Kakamega forest) you are in the ideal zone. The plants also need a lot of water to thrive so the high amount of rainfall in these regions is a blessing.

2. Which type of soil is good for growing Kiwis?
Loam well drained soils with a high amount of organic matter are the best. Like most fruit trees, kiwi plants do not tolerate too much water in the soils. If your soils are a bit compact and water takes a bit of time to drain off, you must plant the vines on raised beds to direct excess water away from the roots of the plants. Soil drainage can also be improved by digging a large hole (about 3 by 3 feet wide and 2 feet deep), mixing the top soil with a bit of sand and well composted farmyard manure then fill the hole with the mixture and plant you vine in it.

3. Where do I get Kiwi fruit seedlings for planting?
The best source of these seedlings is a well established fruit tree nursery like Richfarm Kenya. You can reach them on 0724698357 to make your order for seedlings. A seedling will averagely cost about Ksh 300 each.

kiwi fruit seedling for sale
Kiwi Fruit seedling by Richfarm Kenya
However, if you have a friend with an established kiwi orchard, you can produce your own seedlings through cuttings. Just cut off a soft wood shoot of a vine with about 3 leaf nodes. Remove the leaves, dip the bottom end of the cutting in a rooting hormone and plant it is moist but well drained soil. The cutting will develop new roots and shoots and you can transplant it when it grows enough leaves.

You can also grow seedlings from seeds but we discourage this method because the resultant seedlings usually have inferior characteristics compared to the mother plant and take too long to mature – about 3 to 5 years.

4. Is the kiwi plant a vine: do I need to support it?
Yes, it is a climbing vine and for that reason, you must provide a support for it. The support is nothing complicated; in fact, they are supported the same way we support passion fruit vines using poles and a wire at the top. To allow the vines enough space to creep, plant them with a distance of at least 3 meters between the plants and train the top 2 branches to creep in opposite directions.

5. How long does it take for a kiwi plant to produce fruits?
It should take you at most 2 years from the date of planting to harvest your first fruit if you develop your seedlings from cuttings. However, seedlings developed from seeds take very long as mentioned above; up to 5 years.

6. How can I tell if a kiwi plant is male of female?
Some varieties have separate male and female plants and you can distinguish them by looking at the flowers. If all the parts at the center of the flower are yellow and covered with tiny grains of pollen, then that is a male plant. If the center of the flower has a white part called stigma, then that is a female plant. The stigma at the center of the flower is sometimes surrounded by parts that look like the anthers of a male flower but without pollen. Remember, if the variety you have has separate male and female plants, you will need at least 1 male for every 6 female plants in order to have a good fruit setting.

However, some varieties such as the Actinidia Deliciosa 'Solo' and Actinidia Arguta 'Issai' are self fertile. That means the trees have flowers with both the male parts (Anthers) and the female part (Stigma). For such varieties, all the trees self-pollinate themselves and bear fruits.

7. Why is my kiwi plant drying up?
Often farmers panic when they see the leaves on their plants drying up and falling off. They think that the plant is dying but that is not usually the case. Kiwi plants are deciduous by nature: that means they lose their leaves during the dry season. Ordinarily, the vines will regenerate new leaves at the onset of the next wet season.

8. How many vines can I plant in an acre?
You can plant 340 vines in one acre. The spacing required to achieve that is 2 meters between the lines and 6 meters from plant to plant. Remember to make your lines run from east to west to ensure all the vines get sufficient sunlight throughout the day.

9. What is the price of kiwi fruit?
Some retailers sell at Ksh100 per fruit which is obviously very high. During the high supply season, the fruits are sold at 30 bob a piece in the wholesale market and retail at 50 bob a piece.

What makes kiwi fruit farming in kenya such a potential high income business opportunity is because this fruit is a high value crop. With the necessary structures, you do not need a lot of space to grow kiwi fruits.

Since you are here, you are probably looking for the best agribusiness idea to invest in. You can head to our Farmers Resources Page to download our free farming guides (pdf). We would also suggest you consider mushroom farming. We have written this article, How to make money with mushroom farming throughout the year 2021, to give insights into the mushroom farming business. 


Evans Mfani said...

Its not so difficult to cultivate kiwi fruits after all

Unknown said...

Thanks for this information.

Wild and Free said...

Do you have experience? If yes, I would love to learn from you. Watsup +255 767919791

Unknown said...

Would like more information on this farming and where to source seedlings.