Raspberry Farming in Kenya

We can all attest that there has been a significant increase in the demand for berries in the last 3 years. In Kenya, a variety of different berries are cultivated, each with its unique growing requirements and benefits. We can talk of the strawberries, blueberries, gooseberries, blackberries, raspberries, goji berries name them all but for today let’s discover more on raspberries. Raspberries are vibrant, sweet-tart berries that are not only a delight for the taste buds but also packed with essential nutrients, making them a hit among health-conscious consumers. This guide provides detailed insights in to raspberry farming in Kenya, covering everything from climate requirements, soil preparation, planting, maintenance, harvesting and marketing.

Raspberry farming 

Climate and soil Requirements for raspberry farming

Raspberries thrive in moderate climates that have an altitude of between 1500 and 2,500metres above sea level which makes certain regions in Kenya particularly suitable for their cultivation. They prefer temperatures of between 15 and 25 degrees Celsius and an annual rainfall of 700 to 1200mm.

Raspberries grow best in well-drained, fertile soils that are slightly acidic with a pH of between 5.5 and 6.5. They require loamy soils enriched with organic matter and that have a good drainage to prevent waterlogging which can lead to root rot.

Site selection/preparation and planting of raspberries

Selecting the right site is crucial for successful raspberry farming. A good site for raspberry farming is that which has a full sunlight exposure and good air circulation that is known to reduce the risk of fungal infections.

It is advisable that you avoid planting your raspberries where tomatoes, potatoes, or other nightshade were previously grown to prevent soil borne diseases.

Once you have an ideal site where you want to farm your raspberries, the next step of course is preparing the land. Land preparation involves clearing the land off weeds, rocks, debris, it involves soil testing, a process that is very crucial to determine nutrient levels and pH. In this step you will also need to improve on the soil fertility and structure by incorporating well-rotted manure or compost into the soil depending on the pH test results.

Raspberries require a spacing of 60cm apart in rows that are 2m or 2.5m apart. When planting make sure the plant is at a depth that fully covers the roots. Once you have planted do a deep watering that will ensure your  roots settle in the soil and you can also apply a layer of mulch to conserve moisture and suppress weeds.

Pest and disease management

Common raspberry pests include aphids, raspberry beetles and spider mites. Diseases such as powdery mildew, botrytis, and root rot can also affect raspberries. Integrated Pest Management strategies, including regular monitoring, biological control, and appropriate chemical treatments are recommended.

Maturity Period/ Harvesting and Post- Harvesting Handling

Raspberries take about one year from planting to start fruiting. They are ready for harvest when they are fully coloured and easily detach from the plant. They need careful handling when harvesting and should also be stored in a cool dry place to extend their shelf life.

Market Opportunities

With the increasing consumer demand and diverse product use of berries, different market opportunities are available for farmers and entrepreneurs.

You can supply your raspberries to local markets, supermarkets, and specialty fruit stores. The demand for fresh, high-quality berries is strong, especially in urban areas where health-conscious consumers seek nutritious and fresh produce.  With proper quality control and certification, Kenyan raspberries can be exported to international markets.

Another lucrative and profitable market opportunity comes through value addition. Raspberries can be processed in to jams and jellies, juices, smoothies and flavoured drinks. Apart from being consumed fresh, they can also be frozen and used in baking, desserts, and as toppings for various dishes.

Raspberry farming is a great opportunity for farmers to make good income.

Also Read:Blueberry Farming in Kenya: The New Gold in Agribusiness

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