Dragon Fruit Farming

The fruit no farmer wants to plant any more


The nature of farmers is to plant a crop that gives them good profits. This is different for Dragon fruit which is widely marketed as the most expensive fruit with huge local and Export markets.

Intensive dragon fruit farming started in early 2018 as the best alternative in dry areas with poor soils. Since then, the demand has been increasing and so do supply pushing prices down.

The prices have been declining from Sh. 2500 per kilo in 2018 to Sh. 800 per kilo in 2023.

Dragon fruit has been marketed widely through social media with a said huge market both locally and export. Most farmers who were beginners have now turned to dragon fruit seedlings production while reducing their acreage of production.

Baby Dragon Fruit Seedlings
Baby Dragon Fruit Seedlings

If dragon fruit farming is profitable as said, why then are starters of dragon fruit farming turning to raising seedlings for sale? Why are they not expanding production? Where is the said market? How fast does it move in the market? Is it worth the investment or it will just be another scam like Quails?

These are the questions not addressed by the promoters of dragon fruit farming.

Dragon fruits take 18-24 months from planting to start flowering. Harvesting may be done 45-60 days after fruit set. Yield increases gradually with an optimal of 5-6 months per acre in the third year from the fruit set onwards.

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On average, a single fruit can weigh between 300gms and 500gms with a kilo selling at Sh.500-Sh.1000 farmgate. That is 5-6 tons per acre maximum.

The long waiting period of almost two years before harvesting and low return is said to be the reason most farmers are turning to raising seedlings for sale other than expanding their production.

No market

Dragon fruit is still a luxury crop consumed by a few despite its huge health benefits. Therefore despite what seems like high prices in supermarkets, for farmers, it’s just losses. It is a slow-moving product with low restocking rates at supermarkets.

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The said export market is yet to be exploited and absorbs very little. Most farmers have ended up frustrated with nowhere to take their ready fruits. The rate of return is very low and not worth it.

Truth be told, the reason why dragon fruit farmers are marketing and selling seedlings and not fruits is because that is what has profit only. The shocking fact is that majority of consumers have never heard about it leave alone tasting.

Way Forward

It would then be correct to say dragon fruit farming is not a viable profitable enterprise.

Frequent asked questions FAQs

  1. How long does dragon fruit farming take to grow in Kenya? Ans. Under good management, it can take 25 to 30 months.
  2. Where can I sell dragon fruits in Kenya? Ans. Since it’s a luxury fruit, supermarkets and groceries stores in the upmarket are the best option.
  3. What is the life span of a dragon fruit plant? Ans. 10-15 years under good management.
  4. How many dragon fruit plants per acre are in Kenya? Ans. Between 1850-2100 plants per acre.

Have you farmed it or you are a consumer? Let us know your view!

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