Cabbage Farming in Kenya: How to Grow and Make a Good Profit!

Cabbage farming is a thriving industry in Kenya due to the high demand for cabbages as a staple food. Almost everyone in Kenya consumes cabbage in one form or another, whether cooked or raw. As a result, cabbage farming has become a popular horticultural activity, especially during the dry season, when other crops may not be available or may not grow well.

One of the advantages of cabbage farming is that it is relatively cheap to produce. The cost of production of one cabbage head is usually around Ksh 5 (or 5 Kenyan shillings), which is approximately USD 0.05. This low cost of production means that if you can sell each head for Ksh 10, you can make a substantial profit.

Moreover, cabbage is a relatively easy crop to grow, and farmers do not need advanced farming skills or equipment to produce a decent harvest. The cabbage plant also has a relatively short growing cycle, which makes it possible for farmers to plant and harvest multiple times in a single year.

Cabbage farming is an essential and profitable agricultural activity in Kenya, thanks to the high demand for cabbages, low production cost, and ease of cultivation.

Top Cabbage Growing Areas in Kenya: Where to Find the Best Quality Cabbages for Farming and Consumption

Cabbage is one of the most widely grown crops in Kenya, with the country being a significant exporter of the vegetable to regional and international markets. Although cabbage can grow in different parts of the country, some towns have become well-known for their high-quality cabbages and their large-scale production.

One such town is Limuru, located in Kiambu County, which is known for producing high-quality cabbages throughout the year due to its favorable climate and soil conditions. The area’s high altitude, which ranges between 2100-2400 meters above sea level, provides the cool temperatures that are ideal for cabbage farming.

Kinangop, another town in the same county, is also recognized for its high-quality cabbages, thanks to the area’s fertile soils and favorable climate. Farmers in Kinangop produce cabbages all year round, making it a suitable region for commercial cabbage farming.

Molo and Njoro, located in Nakuru County, are other cabbage growing areas in Kenya that are renowned for their high-quality cabbage production. The regions’ favorable climatic and soil conditions make them ideal for cabbage farming.

In Embu, a town located in the eastern part of Kenya, farmers are engaged in large-scale cabbage production due to the area’s fertile soils, cool temperatures, and abundant rainfall.

Kiambu and Murang’a, located in the central region of Kenya, are also major cabbage growing areas due to their favorable climate and rich soils. These regions are particularly productive during the dry season when other crops may not thrive.

Kisii, a town located in the western part of Kenya, is known for producing cabbages with a unique taste and texture due to the area’s rich volcanic soils.

Eldoret, located in the Rift Valley region of Kenya, is another significant cabbage growing area due to its favorable climatic and soil conditions.

Naivasha, located in the Rift Valley region of Kenya, is also known for its cabbage production, particularly during the dry season when other crops may not thrive. Cabbage farming is usually done under irrigation all year round.

In summary, these regions have become renowned for their high-quality cabbage production due to favorable climatic and soil conditions. Their consistent production of cabbages throughout the year makes them ideal for commercial cabbage farming, and they play a crucial role in meeting the country’s demand for the vegetable.

cabbage farming in Kenya
An Ariel View of a Cabbage Farm

What Is the Soil Type for Cabbage Farming in Kenya?

Cabbage farming in Kenya thrives in a wide range of soils as long as the soil is well-drained and fertile. However, certain soil types are more suitable for cabbage farming than others.

Cabbages prefer well-drained soils that are rich in organic matter, with a pH range of 6.0 to 6.5. The ideal soil type for cabbage farming is sandy loam or clay loam soils, which have good drainage and are rich in nutrients. These soils provide a suitable environment for cabbage roots to grow, which is essential for the healthy development of the crop.

In addition to the soil type, other factors such as soil fertility, moisture levels, and soil temperature also play a crucial role in cabbage farming. Farmers can improve soil fertility by applying organic manure or inorganic fertilizers, depending on the soil nutrient status.

Overall, cabbage farming in Kenya requires careful soil preparation and management to ensure optimal growth and yield of the crop.

Soil Preparation for Cabbage Farming in Kenya

Soil preparation is a crucial step in cabbage farming as it determines the success of the crop. Here are the steps to follow when preparing soil for cabbage farming in Kenya:

  1. Clear the land: Start by clearing the land of any weeds, rocks, or debris that may interfere with the growth of the cabbage plants.
  2. Plowing: Plow the land to a depth of about 25 to 30 cm using a tractor or oxen. This helps to break up the soil and loosen it to allow air, water, and nutrients to penetrate easily.
  3. Harrowing: After plowing, harrow the land to break down any large clumps of soil and to create a fine tilth, which is ideal for cabbage seedlings to establish roots.
  4. Soil testing: Test the soil to determine its nutrient status and pH level. This will guide you on the type and amount of fertilizer to apply to achieve optimal soil fertility.
  5. Soil amendment: Depending on the soil test results, you may need to add organic matter such as compost, manure, or green manure to improve soil fertility.
  6. Fertilizer application: Apply fertilizer to the soil based on the soil test results and the cabbage’s nutrient requirements. The recommended fertilizer application rate for cabbage is about 100kg of NPK per acre.
  7. Bed preparation: Create raised beds that are about 1 meter wide and 15 to 20 cm high. This helps to improve drainage and aeration of the soil, which is essential for the growth and development of cabbage plants.
  8. Mulching: Apply a layer of mulch, such as dried leaves, straw, or grass clippings, to the soil surface. This helps to retain soil moisture, suppress weed growth, and prevent soil erosion.

By following these steps, farmers can prepare the soil for cabbage farming in Kenya and achieve optimal growth and yield of the crop.

Cabbage Varieties in Kenya (Choose Wisely)

There are several cabbage varieties grown in Kenya, and the choice of variety depends on various factors such as the intended use, market demand, and climatic conditions. Here are some of the popular cabbage varieties in Kenya:

  1. Gloria F1: This is a high-yielding variety that is resistant to diseases such as black rot, and has a short maturity period of about 65 days. It produces large, round, dark-green heads that weigh between 2 and 3 kg.
  2. Copenhagen Market: This is a popular variety that is suitable for both fresh consumption and processing. It has a medium-sized head that is round and firm with a good taste. It takes about 75 days to mature.
  3. Green Challenger F1: This is a fast-maturing variety that takes about 60 days to mature. It produces medium-sized, round, and firm heads that are suitable for both fresh consumption and processing.
  4. Snowball: This is a widely grown variety that produces large, round, and compact heads that are resistant to splitting. It has a good taste and takes about 90 days to mature.
  5. Mambo F1: This is a high-yielding variety that produces large, firm, and round heads that weigh between 3 and 4 kg. It has a short maturity period of about 70 days and is resistant to diseases such as black rot.

The choice of variety should be based on the intended use, market demand, and climatic conditions to ensure optimal yield and profitability.

What is the Best Spacing for Growing Cabbages?

The spacing of cabbage plants depends on various factors such as the cabbage variety, soil fertility, and the intended use of the cabbage. Here are some guidelines for spacing cabbage plants based on the size of the cabbage heads:

  1. Large heads: Cabbage varieties that produce large heads such as Copenhagen Market, Gloria F1, and Mambo F1, require more space between plants to allow for the development of the large heads. The recommended spacing for large-headed cabbages is 60-90 cm between rows and 60-75 cm between plants.
  2. Medium heads: Cabbage varieties that produce medium-sized heads such as Green Challenger F1, Lennox, and Green Coronet, require less space between plants than large-headed cabbages. The recommended spacing for medium-headed cabbages is 50-60 cm between rows and 45-60 cm between plants.
  3. Small heads: Cabbage varieties that produce small heads such as Rio Verde and Kaitlin, require the least amount of space between plants. The recommended spacing for small-headed cabbages is 40-50 cm between rows and 30-45 cm between plants.

It’s important to note that the spacing recommendations provided above are general guidelines and may vary depending on the specific cabbage variety, soil fertility, and local climatic conditions. Farmers should consult with their agricultural extension officers for specific spacing recommendations for their particular area.

How Raise Cabbage Seedlings in a Nursery

Raising cabbage seedlings in a nursery is a crucial step in cabbage farming as it determines the success of the crop. Here are some key points to consider when raising cabbage seedlings in a nursery:

  1. Seed germination: Cabbage seeds require a temperature of 25-30°C for optimum germination. It is important to keep the seeds moist during this period to ensure good germination rates.
  2. Planting media: It is advisable to use coco peat as a planting medium for cabbage seedlings. Coco peat is a good alternative to soil as it is lightweight, retains moisture well, and is free from pests and diseases. It is important to wash the coco peat thoroughly to remove any salts or impurities that may affect the germination of the seeds.
  3. Germination trays: Using germination trays helps to ensure uniformity in seedling growth and makes it easier to manage the seedlings. It is important to ensure that the trays are well-drained and that the planting media is evenly distributed in each cell.
  4. Germination rate: Using coco peat as a planting medium can significantly increase the germination rate of cabbage seeds. According to research, cabbage seeds propagated on germination trays using coco peat have a germination rate of 100% compared to soil.
  5. Transplanting: Once the cabbage seedlings are about 21-30 days old, they are ready for transplanting into the main field. It is important to ensure that the seedlings are healthy and strong before transplanting to avoid transplant shock.

In summary, raising cabbage seedlings in a nursery is an important step in cabbage farming. Using coco peat as a planting medium and germination trays can significantly improve the germination rate of cabbage seeds and ensure uniformity in seedling growth.

How Many Cabbages Can You Get Per Acre in Kenya?

The number of cabbage plants per acre in Kenya can vary depending on the spacing used between the plants. However, as a general guideline, farmers usually plant between 10,000 to 15,000 cabbage plants per acre.

Assuming a spacing of 60 cm between rows and 60 cm between plants, the number of cabbage plants per acre will be approximately 10,000. This spacing is suitable for large-headed cabbage varieties.

Is Cabbage Farming Profitable in Kenya?

Cabbage farming can be profitable in Kenya, especially if the farmer practices good management practices and utilizes modern agricultural techniques. Cabbage is a popular vegetable in Kenya, and its demand is high throughout the year, making it a lucrative crop for farmers.

The profitability of cabbage farming will depend on several factors such as the cost of inputs, market demand, and yield. Farmers who use quality seeds, proper soil preparation, and adequate irrigation can achieve high yields and earn good profits.

In addition, farmers can increase their profitability by practicing crop rotation, intercropping with other crops, and using organic fertilizer. These practices can help to improve soil fertility and reduce the cost of inputs, thus increasing the profitability of the crop.

Furthermore, farmers can sell their cabbage produce in various markets, including supermarkets, local markets, and export markets. By choosing the right market, farmers can earn higher profits and increase their returns.

Overall, cabbage farming has the potential to be profitable in Kenya, and farmers can take advantage of the high demand for cabbage to earn good returns on their investment.

Pests and Diseases Affecting Cabbage Farming in Kenya

Cabbages are susceptible to various pests and diseases that can significantly reduce the yield and quality of the crop. Here are some of the common pests and diseases affecting cabbages in Kenya:

  1. Aphids: These are small insects that suck sap from the leaves, causing them to curl and distort. Severe infestations can stunt the growth of the cabbage plant and reduce the yield.
  2. Diamondback moth: This is a common pest that causes small holes in the leaves and can lead to defoliation. The caterpillars of the diamondback moth are resistant to many insecticides, making control difficult.
  3. Cabbage whitefly: These tiny white insects suck sap from the leaves, causing them to yellow and wilt. Severe infestations can cause stunted growth and reduce the yield.
  4. Black rot: This is a bacterial disease that causes the leaves to turn yellow and wilt. The infection can spread rapidly, causing the cabbage to rot from the inside.
  5. Fusarium wilt: This is a fungal disease that causes the leaves to turn yellow and wilt. The infection can spread rapidly, causing the cabbage to rot from the inside.
  6. Clubroot: This is a soil-borne disease that causes the roots to become swollen and distorted. The infected plants may wilt and die, leading to significant yield losses.

To manage pests and diseases in cabbages, farmers can use a combination of cultural, biological, and chemical control methods. These include practices such as crop rotation, intercropping, use of resistant varieties, and application of appropriate pesticides. It’s important to follow recommended integrated pest management practices to minimize the risks of pest and disease outbreaks and ensure optimal cabbage yields.

Planting Calendar for Cabbage Farming in Kenya

MonthTasks to be done
preparation: Sowing in nursery bed:100-120g of seed/acre

Control of
diseases &
JulTransplant 30 days after seed germination
60cm x 45-60cm
Fertilizer (DAP) application
100 kg/acre
(10 g/hole =
2 bottle tops/ hole)
Manure application 8 tons/acre
(2 – 3 handfuls
& diseases
1st top-
100 kg CAN
per acre
(10 g/hole
= 2 bottle
Sep2nd top-
200 kg CAN
per acre
(20 g/hole
= 4 bottle
& diseases
starts 75 –
120 days after
Sorting &
Small 1-2 kg
Med. 3-4 kg
Large > 5 kg
Yields 16 – 68
NovPeak Demand for Cabbages
DecPeak Demand for Cabbages
JanPeak Demand for Cabbages in Kenya

Cabbage Farming Irrigation Methods in Kenya

Cabbage irrigation can be done using different methods, including:

  1. Drip irrigation: This is a water-efficient irrigation method that delivers water directly to the root zone of the cabbage plant. It can help to conserve water and reduce the risk of diseases caused by overwatering.
  2. Rain gun sprinklers: This method uses high-pressure sprinklers to distribute water over a large area. It’s ideal for irrigating large cabbage farms and can help to reduce labor costs.
  3. Rain hose irrigation: This is a type of overhead irrigation that uses porous hoses to deliver water directly to the soil surface. It’s a cost-effective irrigation method that can help to reduce water wastage.

Regardless of the irrigation method used, it’s important to ensure that the cabbage plants receive adequate water during the growing season. This is particularly important during dry spells when the crop is most vulnerable to water stress. Regular monitoring of soil moisture levels can help to ensure optimal cabbage growth and yield.

The Best Irrigation System for Cabbage Farming

Drip irrigation is the best irrigation systems for cabbages. Drip irrigation involves delivering water directly to the root zone of the cabbage plant through a series of drip emitters or drippers. This method is highly efficient as it reduces water loss through evaporation and runoff, and ensures that water is delivered precisely where it is needed.

In cabbage farming, drip irrigation allows for precise control over the amount of water that is delivered to each plant, ensuring that they receive the optimal amount of water for growth. This method also helps to reduce the incidence of fungal diseases, as water is delivered directly to the soil and does not come into contact with the leaves of the plant.

Overall, drip irrigation is a highly effective and efficient method for cabbage farming, and it can lead to increased yields and profitability for farmers.

A Drip Irrigation System.

Components of a Drip Irrigation System for Cabbages

The drip irrigation system components typically include a filter unit, 50mm HDPE pipe (200 meters), drip fittings, main and sub-main pipe fittings, gate valves to partition the farm into portions, and 16mm drip pipe (6000-meter roll) is a comprehensive package that can be very useful for cabbage farmers.

The filter unit helps to remove debris and other particles that may clog the drip emitters, ensuring that water is delivered to the plants uniformly and efficiently. The 50mm HDPE pipe is used as the main supply line that delivers water from the water source to the various parts of the farm.

The drip fittings are essential components that connect the drip pipes to the main supply line and the sub-main pipe fittings. The main and sub-main pipe fittings help to ensure that water flows smoothly and uniformly throughout the entire farm, and the gate valves allow farmers to partition their farms into different sections, which can help to optimize water usage.

The 16mm drip pipe (6000 meter roll) is used to distribute water to the individual plants, ensuring that they receive the right amount of water at the right time. This type of irrigation system can be very effective in conserving water and improving crop yields, especially in areas where water is scarce.

How A Drip Irrigation System Looks Like.

Overall, this drip irrigation kit is a great investment for cabbage farmers who want to improve their crop yields and reduce water usage. It provides all the necessary components for a well-designed and efficient irrigation system, which can help farmers to maximize their profits and achieve success in their farming endeavors.

How Irrigation Helps in Cabbage Farming Profitability

Irrigation is an important aspect of cabbage farming, and it plays a critical role in ensuring optimal yield and profitability. Here are some ways that irrigation can help in cabbage farming profitability:

  1. Consistent water supply: Irrigation provides a consistent and reliable supply of water to the cabbage plants. This ensures that the plants are adequately hydrated and that growth is not stunted due to water stress. Consistent water supply helps to improve the quality of the cabbage heads, leading to higher market value and profitability.
  2. Irrigation allows cabbage farmers to grow their crops during the dry season when rainfall is scarce, which can lead to higher market prices due to lower supply. This can result in increased profitability and better returns on investment. Additionally, irrigation can help to extend the cabbage growing season, allowing farmers to maximize their yield and profitability over a longer period of time.
  3. Increased yield: Adequate water supply is essential for optimal cabbage growth and yield. With proper irrigation, cabbage plants can produce more heads per acre, which translates to higher yield and increased profitability.
  4. Disease prevention: Overhead irrigation methods such as rain gun sprinklers and rain hose irrigation can help to reduce the incidence of fungal diseases, which can be a major problem in cabbage farming. By delivering water directly to the soil and avoiding contact with the leaves, overhead irrigation can help to prevent the spread of diseases.
  5. Water conservation: Irrigation methods such as drip irrigation can help to conserve water by delivering water directly to the root zone of the cabbage plant. This can help to reduce water usage, which can be a significant cost in cabbage farming.

Overall, irrigation is an essential aspect of cabbage farming profitability, as it helps to ensure optimal growth and yield while reducing the risk of water stress and disease. By implementing proper irrigation techniques, cabbage farmers can increase their profitability and sustain their farming operations for the long term.

How to Irrigate Cabbages

To irrigate cabbages, you first need to have a well-designed drip irrigation system installed in your farm. Here are the steps to irrigate cabbages using drip irrigation:

  1. Determine the water requirements of your cabbages: This depends on the crop stage, weather conditions, and soil type. As a general rule, cabbages require 1-1.5 inches of water per week.
  2. Set up an irrigation schedule: You should create a proper irrigation schedule that considers the water requirements of your cabbages and the weather conditions. Avoid over-irrigation as this may lead to diseases.
  3. Open the irrigation system: Turn on the drip irrigation system during the scheduled time, making sure that the valves are fully open.
  4. Monitor the irrigation process: Observe the cabbages during irrigation to ensure that the water is being distributed evenly and that there are no leaks or blockages in the system.
  5. Close the irrigation system: Turn off the drip irrigation system after the scheduled time. Avoid irrigating cabbages during the hottest part of the day as this can cause the water to evaporate quickly, resulting in water stress for the plants.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your cabbages receive the right amount of water and grow healthily, resulting in better yields and profitability.

Harvesting Cabbages

Harvesting of cabbages should be done when they are fully matured, firm and have reached the desired size. The maturity period for different cabbage varieties varies, but it usually takes about 70 to 120 days from planting to harvesting. Signs that cabbages are ready for harvesting include a tight head and leaves that are compact and firm.

When harvesting, it is important to use a sharp knife or a machete to cut the stem close to the ground, taking care not to damage the head. After harvesting, the cabbages should be sorted and graded according to size, with the larger heads commanding a higher price in the market.

It is important to handle the cabbages carefully during harvesting and sorting to avoid bruising, which can reduce their shelf life and market value. The cabbages should be transported to the market as soon as possible to avoid spoilage and ensure that they are fresh when they reach the consumer.

Joseph Boit
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Joseph Boit

Joseph is a social entrepreneur with a curious mind and a love for farming. Big dreamer and a technology enthusiast.

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