Dragon Fruit Farming In Kenya: A Comprehensive Step by Step Guide For Growing Dragon Fruit

Dragon fruit farming in Kenya is no longer a foreign concept as it sounded 2 years ago. Today, we have a few hundred small-scale dragon fruit farmers in Kenya and tens of relatively large-scale farmers. The fruit, also called pitahaya or pitaya, is also gaining popularity in Kenya, driving the demand higher, thus offering its local farmers a higher opportunity for making profits.

While information about dragon fruit farming is still scanty in Kenya, Richfarm is always visiting farmers to educate them on the best ways of producing the fruit. We have also been holding dragon fruit farming seminars at our Embu farm. We always want you to start off your project from an informed position. That is why we have also written this online guide on how to grow dragon fruits in Kenya.

Dragon fruit Kenya
Dragon fruit farming: Harvesting process

Best conditions for dragon fruit farming in Kenya

Being in the family of cactus, this fruit is adapted to grow even in arid or semi-arid conditions. It does not require a lot of water. It is also not selective on the type of soils meaning you can grow it on sandy, loamy or clay soils. However, for your plants to have good vegetative growth and a high yield, the soils must have high organic matter and be well drained. You should also ensure that you give them just a little water during the very dry seasons.

Can dragon fruits grow in the Kenyan highlands? Yes, while this crop has the ability to grow even in hot and dry areas, it doesn't mean it can't grow in cooler areas with a lot of rainfall. All you need to do is ensure that the soils are well-drained to avoid soaking the rooting area.

The support structures

Dragon fruit plants are vines; they cannot grow upright on their own. You must make them a support structure over which to climb. A post with a wide structure at the top will be sufficient to support 2 to 4 vines. The plants will climb up to the top and then spread forming something like an umbrella. This ensures that the plants receive enough sunlight, which is very important for their growth and production. If your support structures are arranged in rows, you should ensure that the rows take an East-West alignment. This helps the plants to receive sunshine throughout the day.

dragon fruit farm in rows
Dragon fruit plants in rows: the rows are in an East-West alignment

Dragon fruit spacing?

The recommended spacing for dragon fruit is 2m between the lines and 2m from pole to pole within the line. With this spacing, you will plant 2,000 dragon fruit plants in an acre if you establish 2 plants per pole. That is the number we actually recommend. However, we have seen other successful spacing in practice: the commercial farm in Naivasha has a spacing of 2m between the lines and 1m from pole to pole and 2 plants per pole. In other farms, they plant 4 plants per pole and have had successful yield. 

dragon fruit planting space
Dragon fruit farming in Kenya: planting space of 2m by 1m

How long do dragon fruits take to mature?

It will take 1 to one and a half years for a dragon fruit vine to produce the first fruit if you plant it from the cutting of a mature vine. A vine propagated from a seed will take more than 6 years to mature hence the best method to propagate dragon fruits is through cuttings. The lifespan of dragon fruit plants is over 40 years.

A dragon fruit bud takes 13 days to develop into a flower from a node. This flower opens up for pollination on the night of the 13th day – just before the 14th day. This is the only chance that the flower has to get pollinated. If pollination doesn’t happen then, the flower will not grow into a fruit and will simply fall off the plant. If it is successfully pollinated, it will develop into a fruit that will be ripe and ready for harvesting after 38 days since pollination. That means it only takes 52 days from the day a fruit bud emerges to have a yummy fruit ready to be eaten.

dragon fruit pollination
Dragon fruit pollination by bees: it happens very early in the morning

When the fruits are growing, they are usually green in colour. They start turning into red colour when they mature and the ripening process starts. The ripening process takes only 3 days. You must harvest dragon fruits only after they are completely ripe. This is because, unlike other fruits, Pitaya does not continue to ripen after being harvested.

Where is the market for dragon fruits in Kenya?

Dragon fruits are in very high demand in Kenya at the moment while the supply remains low. That is why it is one of the most expensive fruits on the Kenyan shelves. It will cost you in the range of Ksh800 to 1,500 to buy a kilo of Pitaya. 

Currently, the market for dragon fruits is open and ready for farmers to sell through the many supermarket chains in the country, the open market, fruit aggregators and, of course, the ever-present online market.  The supermarkets that stock these fruits in our country actually import it from other countries. This presents a great opportunity for farmers who would want to invest in dragon fruit farming in Kenya. At this point, we are not even talking about the export market for Kenyan dragon fruits since the supply is far from getting to exportable levels. 

To get a deeper understanding of the dragon fruit market in Kenya, please read the following articles we wrote for you:

- 3 Reasons Why You Should Invest In Dragon Fruit Farming In Kenya

Why Dragon Fruit Is Set To Be The Next Big Thing In Kenya’s Farming Business

China is the largest consumer of dragon fruits and it imports a bulk of the produce from Vietnam. China is an open market to which Kenya is exporting avocado. With the necessary volumes, dragon fruit farmers in Kenya can take advantage of the Chinese and larger international market.

The shelf life of dragon fruit

You can keep dragon fruits for up to 18 days after harvesting without refrigeration. Under proper refrigeration, the fruit will remain fresh even for 3 months. This fruit is not perishable since it stops ripening immediately it is cut off from the mother plant. Also, the fruit does not oxidize after being cut. That means you do not have to consume the entire fruit once you have cut it. You can keep a slice under refrigeration and it will look and taste as fresh as when you first cut it.

Pest and diseases

Dragon fruit farming in Kenya is the only agribusiness venture I know that you can do purely organically and find it easy to do so. The plants and fruits are not easily attacked by pests and diseases. The greatest threat to dragon fruit farming is the fruit fly. Luckily, fruit flies can be controlled using biological methods. The plant is also very tolerant to diseases. Only mild cases of fungal infections have been reported, and even as such, they do not pose any danger to the plant or fruits. 

What you need for a profitable dragon fruit farming venture in Kenya

  1. Space: A small space, even 1/8 of an acre is enough to start dragon fruit farming in Kenya at the moment. Being a very high value crop, a few dragon fruit plants are enough to make you realize economic gain. You do not need typically fertile soils as the nutritional needs of this plant are not so high. You can actually plant it even on the edges of the farm.
  2. Support structures: Posts of about 5 feet (150cm) in height are good enough. These can either be wooded or concrete. Concrete ones are best for longevity. Soften the soil around the base of the post and hip it a little especially if you are planting on clay soils that are not so well drained. Mix the soil with a lot of manure to give it sufficient amounts of organic matter. You only need soils that are about 2 feet (60cm) deep since the plants are shallow rooters.
  3. High-quality seedlings: Plant dragon fruit seedlings developed from mature cuttings only. Get mature, rooted dragon fruit cuttings from Richfarm Kenya by simply calling or texting 0724698357. When planting, burry only the rooting section of the cutting and water just enough to make the soil moist. Tie the cuttings to the post to help them grow upright before they produce aerial roots and be able to climb by themselves. By the way, do not miss our BIG PRICE OFFER on seedlings: Check this out here: Dragon Fruit Seedlings For Sale: The Best Prices In Kenya

Dragon fruit seedlings for sale at Richfarm Kenya

You have done all you need to. From now on, you will only need to train your plants along the post and wait to harvest the delicious, high value fruit in about 1 years time. 

If you ever have any questions regarding dragon fruit farming in Kenya, or anywhere in Africa, do not hesitate to call us on on (+254) 0724698357, 0723213602 or 0798919007. We are always ready to answer any question and we would also be glad to come to your farm and practically help you in setting up your dragon fruit farming business. 

Other important commercial farming ventures by Richfarm Kenya include:


Tech Point said...

Hi do you offer services such as have a person on the ground to take the farmer through the process and of course at a fee?

Anonymous said...

Does one need to dig a hole of 2feet deep or just plant after heaping some soils at base of the poles ?

nkatha jackim said...

Hello this is Peninah from Mombasa is it possible to get a good market to sell dragon fruits. if i can plant them in my land at Chuka, Meru. After of course
coming over for seedlings from you.

Anonymous said...

I'm interested with this farming. Do you admit students to go through their attachment within the farm.

Anonymous said...

Interested,.how much per seedlings

Anonymous said...

How can i get seedlings in embu county

Anonymous said...

I would like to visit farm if I'm given an opportunity since I'm determined to venture into this farming.

Anonymous said...

How much is a seedling?

Anonymous said...

What's your contact number?

Anonymous said...

How much per seeding

Anonymous said...

Cutting brother not seedlings

Anonymous said...

How much per seedling?

Anonymous said...

Interested about this farming.

Anonymous said...

Am interested in starting selling the dragon fruit

Richfarm Kenya said...

Contact us for help. 0724698357 / 0723213602

Richfarm Kenya said...

We will be very glad to help you get started in it. Just call +254724698357 / +254723213602 to get any help you need.

Richfarm Kenya said...

Dragon fruit seedlings cost ksh500. Currently, you pay only 400 each if you buy more than 10.

Richfarm Kenya said...

Dragon fruit seedlings cost ksh500. Currently, you pay only 400 each if you buy more than 10. Call +254724698357 / +254723213602 to order yours.

Mrs. Isige said...

I would like to grow it in Kitale town? will it thrive here?

Anonymous said...

Hi do you offer support in how to plant on site?

Anonymous said...

Hello can it grow within kakamega

Anonymous said...

How can I get the seedlings and maybe more knowledge on the fruit farming

Anonymous said...

IThis can be a good business venture.

Anonymous said...

Can you export to Dar es salaamTanzania

Anonymous said...

Interested in Machakos

Billy O. said...

This must be the most expensive fruit in Kenya.