Greenhouse farming boosts agriculture production in Kenya

By Andy Kagwa in Nairobi

November 05, 2012

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Faced with reduced acreage for farming due to population growth and unpredictable weather conditions, many Kenyans are turning to greenhouse farming technology as a way to increase food production and supplement their income.

  • Hortipro Limited exhibited low-cost greenhouse tunnels at the Jamhuri showground during the Nairobi International Trade Fair in October. [Andy Kagwa/Sabahi]

    Hortipro Limited exhibited low-cost greenhouse tunnels at the Jamhuri showground during the Nairobi International Trade Fair in October. [Andy Kagwa/Sabahi]

The growing popularity of greenhouse farming was demonstrated at the annual Nairobi International Trade Fair in October where exhibitors of greenhouse technologies said they saw a surge in public interest.

"Many Kenyans are adopting greenhouse farming because it requires very little capital to set up and farmers are able to produce more on a small farm," said Moses Khaemba of Hortipro Limited, a Nairobi-based firm that constructs low-cost greenhouses.

In addition to being relatively inexpensive and easy to install, greenhouses also have lower maintenance costs, use water more efficiently and can be shifted between plots, he said, adding that farmers can see profits from the first harvest.

"Greenhouse farming has many advantages," Khaemba told Sabahi. "These include higher and more consistent production per acre, which translates into more profits, protection from weather issues like frost and wind, limited exposure to damaging pests, natural sunlight and ventilation, longer growing seasons, and more economical water usage, especially in dry areas."

The size of a greenhouse depends on the farmer's ability to manage it and the size of the lot, he said. The average unit is 8 by 30 metres and costs 150,000 shillings ($1,800). The company has received more than 1,000 orders from farmers so far this year -- a 25% increase compared to 2011 -- some with multiple units on the same farm, Khaemba said.

Greenhouses can either be traditional house-like structures or greenhouse tunnels -- long, plastic-covered enclosures over crops. Farmers say that by using greenhouse tunnels, they are able to produce more than in an open field.

"I have two greenhouses on my three-acre plot in Karen Estate in Nairobi where I have planted tomatoes," Margaret Wanjiku, 54, told Sabahi.

Wanjiku, who retired five years ago from an international aid organisation, said one tomato plant can yield 16-20 kilograms of tomatoes.

Although prices fluctuate because of supply and demand, she said each square metre of tomatoes fetches her about 3,000 shillings ($35). "I sell the tomatoes to a nearby supermarket and to some to my neighbours," she said.

Amos Karanja has set aside a portion of his quarter-acre plot in Kitengela, Kajiado County, for growing greenhouse tomatoes. "Although I have a day job, I ventured into this type of farming as a way of earning additional income to support my family," he told Sabahi.

Dan Wanjohi of Daner Greenhouse Limited in Ongata Rongai, a residential area in Rift Valley Province, said virtually any vegetable can be grown in greenhouses, including cucumbers, onions and cabbage.

"Most farmers in Kenya prefer to grow tomatoes because it is a high-yield plant and one that gets returns in three months after planting," he told Sabahi.

He said his firm uses steel in the construction of its 8 by 30 metre greenhouses and sells them for 200,000 shillings ($2,300) each. The cost includes laying the pipes for drip irrigation.

However, farmers who are unable to afford the steel structures can still put up the greenhouse tunnels using timber at a much lower cost. "I paid 70,000 shillings ($818) to construct my greenhouse," Karanja told Sabahi.

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Reader's Comments

  • moshi lesso
    October 11, 2014 @ 01:01:00PM

    I need to know more about the strength of those shelters. Can they stand HEAVY rainfalls? I am in Dar, TZ.

  • John Kabue
    September 28, 2014 @ 10:31:56AM

    This is very useful information ,I've 100 acres under beans and maize in a semi arid zone,but hardly get something tangible after harvest. I would like to set up green houses since I've a water pan whereby Hi've been able to harness more than 1000m3. Can you help ASAP before the October rains. Best regards,

  • Rhoda Richard
    September 27, 2014 @ 09:46:46AM

    Please, give us your address.

  • mwasa mango
    September 22, 2014 @ 05:05:56AM

    I live in Tanzania and I am a Tanzanian. You could help me in training so that I would be able to work of tomato farming (green house).

  • leonard mutai
    September 21, 2014 @ 01:57:45PM

    i would like to purchase one but i need full dtails on the package kind regards

  • Frank Kibukamusoke
    September 16, 2014 @ 12:17:57PM

    I live in Uganda how you help. Am ready to pay for erection of the greenhouse which I have already ordered and training afeter erection.

  • charles.
    September 8, 2014 @ 10:57:15AM

    I liked green house farming. Do you have an office in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania?

  • Mangira
    September 8, 2014 @ 07:16:24AM

    Where are you located in nairobi so I can view the product?

  • Elizabeth
    August 28, 2014 @ 06:33:07AM

    I am glad with this feature. I would like to ask for tips on how to have a fish farm, if any. Thank you.

  • fredkola
    August 25, 2014 @ 04:36:20PM

    do you supply greenhouse on loans?am around l.victoria homabay county

  • flora eliuter
    August 24, 2014 @ 04:50:55AM

    I like this type of farming. Now, where will I get it?

  • fannie kennedy
    August 19, 2014 @ 07:41:09AM

    this is a good project n am interested in starting a greenhouse farming, how can i get the kits and necessary information.

  • Njeru dennis
    August 17, 2014 @ 02:21:03AM

    Send me your contact details

  • Kim' Kadama
    August 16, 2014 @ 05:07:13PM

    It is just so nice….

  • Lazaro kahem
    August 15, 2014 @ 05:59:16AM

    It's good and I like it.

  • phillip
    August 11, 2014 @ 10:08:19AM

    Thanks, What variety of tomatoes planted by Wanjiku? What is the spacing used from plant to plant. Can I get hint on the running costs? Otherwise the article is encouraging

  • Diana
    August 3, 2014 @ 07:34:05AM

    Many congratulations. I need a greenhouse, am in Iringa, Tanzania. How much will it cost me?

  • margarian
    July 25, 2014 @ 09:58:20AM

    Im thinking of doing farming in kitengela and would like to know what kind of plants I can plant there. Also what should I know before beginning this business venture? Thanks.

  • verdiana kanyihilayo
    July 22, 2014 @ 07:26:48AM

    I like the in-door farming. I am in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

  • Rhoda Richard
    July 1, 2014 @ 11:17:10AM

    How are you the Team? I am in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. I would like to have your greenhouse farming products. The area is 150*70 feet.

  • gladness
    June 30, 2014 @ 06:43:36AM

    I like farming very much.

  • EMMY. NDYAMUREEBA. MUHWEZI
    June 27, 2014 @ 04:16:02PM

    Hello Team I am based in Kampala Uganda, I would like to have one of your green house products. The space measures 150 ft X 60 ft. where I need a green house so that I grow tomatoes How much will it cost me

  • simon mungai
    June 27, 2014 @ 02:41:21PM

    Am intrested in this kind of farming and your information is so educative.

  • edelbert rey soria
    June 27, 2014 @ 12:59:26AM

    good greenhouse how can i build a green house agriculture in philippines i need guide

  • AHMED HABIBU
    June 26, 2014 @ 05:20:14AM

    I am interested with the knowledge on garden farming under the tents. But I haven't understood how many kilos of tomato you can get from one tent of 30x8 meters in a single season.

  • Jason Abuga
    June 25, 2014 @ 08:43:06AM

    How can i use your materials to design a Pathology Screening House for Research in one of the Universities? Is it possible?

  • chepsoi
    June 22, 2014 @ 04:34:14AM

    like the progress and would like to have one. thanks

  • yusuph kassim
    June 17, 2014 @ 05:58:24AM

    I like green house farming my land is 4 acre near lake victoria mwanza Tanzania

  • mathews samwel
    June 12, 2014 @ 06:13:52AM

    good publications

  • Fatma Nyange
    June 7, 2014 @ 07:02:34AM

    I like this article. Can I get more details on this company and its programs? I also need to establish a business using these shelters.

  • Shukuru
    May 28, 2014 @ 06:19:01AM

    If I am from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, how will I get these tents? Will you also teach me how to fix them and the farming?

  • jacqueline
    May 19, 2014 @ 02:27:25PM

    kindly, i would like you to contact me to so that you can help on some issues i have concern construction of a greenhouse

  • Cecilia Chambaka
    May 14, 2014 @ 09:28:11AM

    I would like to ask for more articles on tomato farming.

  • KAJOBI MUMBARA
    May 7, 2014 @ 12:40:28PM

    good

  • Fatma Omar
    May 5, 2014 @ 01:36:07AM

    I like this technology and I would like to use it.

  • Watuwa Nathan M
    April 25, 2014 @ 02:51:10AM

    Is it posible to come and contruct me ine green house in Uganda? How much will it cost me for one constructed by still. I am so appreciative to the information provided on this site. Bongezi

  • Ashley
    April 21, 2014 @ 09:48:01AM

    Good article. I am interested in investing in farming and your article is such an incite.

  • KANUDA ERASTO
    April 21, 2014 @ 08:46:24AM

    I WOULD LIKE VERY MUCH TO MAKE TOMATO FARMING AS MY SELF-EMPLOYMENT. HOW CAN I GET THIS TECHNOLOGY OF GREENHOUSE AGRICULTURE WHILE IN MOROGORO TANZANIA? YOUR ASSISTANCE IS NEEDED.

  • Moses Ndivo
    April 15, 2014 @ 10:03:25AM

    Dear SABAHI,Iwould like to request you to kindly send to me if possible, the price quotation of normal green house. I need to start farming of tomatoes and vegetables in my home area makindu in makueni county.Thankyou,am hopping to hear from you.

  • Mazuri
    April 3, 2014 @ 03:26:04AM

    It is an encouraging issue and it is the same thing that I was thinking to implement in my country, Now I can see the idea I have been looking for, please send me if you can more information about this matter and encouragement and I would really appreciate it.

  • simon
    March 29, 2014 @ 12:48:07PM

    I need to set a green in the next 1 week . am looking to buy one from your company. please get back

  • JOHN THADEY ASSEY
    March 18, 2014 @ 05:25:32PM

    I am truly a farmer and like agriculture to the most but have not reached a level I want. However, your article is very good because is targets small enterprenuers and teach them on how to reach their goals. Thank you.

  • HAKIZAYEZU WELLARS from Rwanda
    March 6, 2014 @ 02:19:41AM

    I would like to have further information because I want to start greenhouse farming this year.

  • hamisi ahmad
    March 5, 2014 @ 10:24:05AM

    I am a farmer in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. I would like to know more about the costs and benefits of green houses, especially for a person like who is in Tanzania. How can I get them here? Do you have your agent in Tanzania?

  • Narayanan
    February 13, 2014 @ 04:40:03AM

    Very informative

  • JULIA
    January 31, 2014 @ 03:05:24AM

    i would want to venture into this business. Please assist

  • ESTHER
    January 28, 2014 @ 12:52:29AM

    I would like to venture into this business. How do I get assisstance?

  • susan mwasele
    January 27, 2014 @ 07:06:37AM

    I would like to have further information because I want to start greenhouse farming this year.

  • mubichi gatimba
    January 6, 2014 @ 07:37:09AM

    I have decided that I amgoing into greenhouse farming. I am a residnt of Meru county and would be very grateful if you could refer me to someone who could be of any assistance to me. Mubichi.

  • Innocent James
    December 27, 2013 @ 09:08:07PM

    so nice and aspiring, how can I place my order from Tanzania? how much exactly does one green house (8-30)cost? where re you located in Kenya? please let me know through I have worked hard to find this stuff in here but there was no sign to success.

  • Peter Kaji
    December 16, 2013 @ 06:51:23AM

    It is a good farming, I personally like it very much and would like to start it here in Tanzania.

  • augustine joseph othegbemhe
    December 11, 2013 @ 10:19:20AM

    i am a nigerian and i want to build 2 greenhouses of 50 by 15 meter. how much will it cost me for both the material and installation service.

  • Robert
    November 27, 2013 @ 03:35:26PM

    Very interesting and promising would you plz send picture layout of one with water system?

  • Pauline Mwangi
    October 30, 2013 @ 03:19:33PM

    Am interested in setting up a green house. How can you help

  • Daniel Mwakilembe
    October 23, 2013 @ 03:51:44PM

    I like gardening very much here in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. I would like to ask you to send me newsletters so that I could be able to read and learn more of what you are doing. We are many here, and will give my colleagues to read.

  • Twinobusingye Dorcus
    October 16, 2013 @ 04:29:46PM

    very nive and motivative. am a serious farmer in uganda-kampala but i would also want to have some green houses. how cani contact you.

  • simon weiner
    October 10, 2013 @ 10:39:10AM

    I have a product you may be interested in which increases both crop yield and improves taste.

  • MOSES OCHIENG A.
    October 3, 2013 @ 04:22:04AM

    Am interested in actually acquiring one of your greenhouses size 8x30m in future but structure made of steel. Could you kindly also advice me the other high yield crop apart from tomatoes that can do better if i plant and how do i market my yields?

  • SHUFAA YUSUPH
    September 9, 2013 @ 09:27:17AM

    I liked this article on agriculture. I like research on flower farming.

  • kimathi mugambi
    September 3, 2013 @ 09:30:06AM

    how much output, a greenhouse of 30mby8m yield for a period for a period of 10 month if u plant hybrid tomato anna f1.I Like dat agribusiness project.

  • David Wafula
    August 19, 2013 @ 07:27:33AM

    How do we contact Hortipro for construction of Greenhouse in Kitale area in Trans Nzoia

  • Watuwa Nathan Mabalah
    August 9, 2013 @ 02:20:09PM

    Thaks for the post

  • clara mshenga
    July 16, 2013 @ 04:10:01AM

    Hi, I would like to contruct greenhouse in my farm in Ruiru. Which firm can you recommend me. I need a low cost greenhoues cos am asmall scale farmer

  • D. Mutinda
    July 10, 2013 @ 10:11:23AM

    Hi, been thinking about venturing into Green House technology and grow income crops like vegetables, but I would like to have some basic skills on how to manage this kind of farming... Please let me know where I can get training prior to starting the project- This is Kitui Central.

  • macharia victor
    July 10, 2013 @ 07:42:50AM

    what other lucrative crops can be planted inside the green house apart from tomatoes

  • kanyari jw
    July 6, 2013 @ 11:00:04AM

    very inspiring,will do it as a part-time business

  • Dr.Rajendra Deshmukh
    July 4, 2013 @ 05:57:49AM

    i am a qualified Horticulturist by profession and did Ph.D in Horticulture and was Assistant professor of Horticulture in the Agriculture university in India, so farming in green house is really sustainable and profit making agri business but before venturing into it one should take training about it.In our Maharashtra state the Government is encouraging the technology and giving subsidy to farmers. i am also associated with Mumbai Television as an anchor and anchoring all agricultural programs on TV, I am conducting interviews of farmers, agri scientists, ministers etc and i am also disseminating the valuable information to our farming community through our training centre which is located in our plant nursery. so Kenya is doing great in the field of green house farming and my students are also working there in green houses, all the best. i had been to Israel in 2002 on scholarship to attend an International trainng course in R and D in Irrigation and Fertigation in Green houses. it was highly learning experience and i really enriched my experience in this field. Kenya has got lots of potential and natural resources so the country has got scope to export the fresh fruits and vegetables and also exotic vegetables to other countries.

  • Joyce
    June 25, 2013 @ 01:22:19AM

    How do we contact Hortipro for construction of Greenhouse in Kitengela Area

  • JAPHET RUDASINGWA
    June 24, 2013 @ 02:58:14PM

    Dear Sabahi, Please will you let me know how I can purchase a green house from you .I am from KIGALI-RWANDA and I am very much interested in your product Hoping to read from you soon

  • Monica W. Kimani
    June 17, 2013 @ 06:37:22AM

    Hi Sabahi, where is your location?

  • james
    June 13, 2013 @ 05:34:03AM

    Dear SABAHI, kindly send me a quote on the cheapest green house that you can construct. I would like to specialize in tomatoes. Thank you and hoping to hear from you soon.

  • ERIC KARIUKI
    June 11, 2013 @ 06:56:50AM

    Dear SABAHI, kindly send me a quote on the cheapest green house that you can construct. The location that I want it to be constructed in is in Githiga, in Githunguri, in Kiambu county. The place is a tea zone area. I would like to specialize in tomatoes. Thank you and hoping to hear from you soon.

  • hamadi
    June 9, 2013 @ 08:11:48AM

    It is a good and beneficial agricultural method. I am in Tanzania and would like to get that service of drop irrigation for 10 acres. Look if there is a possibility. Thank you.

  • Anthony
    June 8, 2013 @ 03:01:03AM

    Hi I am Anthony form Nairobi and am interested in green house farming, please give me more information onn houw to to get one.

  • John Kamau
    May 28, 2013 @ 04:58:04AM

    I was trying to look for some information about the green house prices and this article has helped me so much.

  • nyakerario
    May 27, 2013 @ 06:30:41AM

    where are you situated i would like to come there and see what goes on phisically aand do a face to face converstion to know more about the greeen house

  • moraa
    May 22, 2013 @ 03:07:03AM

    Am looking to buy tomatoes from those farming. Anyone around kitengela, karen, ngong.. let me know then we take it off-line

  • mwanakhamis
    May 15, 2013 @ 03:09:57PM

    I am very happy, as from today I want to travel to Kenya, though I know nobody there. I want to learn that greenhouse farming and later do it in Zanzibar.

  • Michael Nelson
    May 4, 2013 @ 03:53:56AM

    Am very much interested in this type of farming, but can i get clarification on how to get water on my peice of land. cost of diging borehole and storage tank and everything that is needed and incase diging aborehole and get water can be aproblem please advice.

  • MPANGALA ROBERT
    April 30, 2013 @ 10:19:50AM

    THIS EXPERTISE IS VERY GOOD. HOW CAN A PERSON FROM OUTSIDE KENYA OBTAIN GREENHOUSES AND ADVISE ON GREENHOUSE FARMING? CAN I GET THE CONTACT OF THAT COMPANY?

  • Allan
    April 27, 2013 @ 10:40:37AM

    Hi Kindly advice what would be the total cost of setting up a greenhouse in chogoria meru on a 50 by 100 plot. And what size would be appropriate for this.

  • Kennedy Wabwire
    April 11, 2013 @ 09:26:21PM

    I am interested in greenhouse farming and I wish to receive any helpful information as I intend to establish a farm in Busia Uganda.

  • Richard Chacha
    April 4, 2013 @ 10:02:49AM

    Am very much interested in this type of farming, but can i get clarification on how to get water on my peice of land. cost of diging borehole and storage tank and everything that is needed and incase diging aborehole and get water can be aproblem please advice.

  • Baltazary tarimo
    March 19, 2013 @ 09:26:14AM

    This news has encouraged me. How will I reach you?

  • Victor ngeno
    March 13, 2013 @ 02:46:46AM

    with this kind of technique kenya can achieve food stability,accessibility and availabilty and hence food utilisation.This way kenya can achieve food security and since agricultrue is backbone of kenyas economy there is need for more emphasis on agriculture by government

  • Priscah Ndungu
    January 25, 2013 @ 08:26:13AM

    Hi, I would like to know if Hortipro do have a 8 x 15m greenhouse and the cost.

  • GODWELL
    December 9, 2012 @ 09:17:51PM

    This is Godwell Ssengo where one can call me anything coz i live in the village but the village isnt in me.Heard of green house farming and have seen it somewhere then my heart sung again as it does when ever i get new ideas like the Aquaculture - fish farming in ponds,etc but fail to proceed coz of money.I stay on two achers of land where ots ca be done just in case i get you ready to share your information on this project and where to get the FUNDS.Then also have a friend who has 35 achers of land in mukonoe where this country can be feed daily with products from this land - greens,potatoes fish / frogs coz there is a constant running water through the year,.There where is he/she who can take me there - mean where FUNDS,INVESTORS ARE. God bless. Godwell.

  • haron
    November 22, 2012 @ 10:09:45AM

    if i construct a green house on a quarter acre in naiirobi, how much will it cost and what is the profit margin per year for tomatoes, chilli or other crops? pls help

  • Thilak Hathurusinghe
    November 22, 2012 @ 12:13:06AM

    Dear friend, This is very good project. I would like to start this project in Sri Lanka. Thilak

  • hemed
    November 6, 2012 @ 03:36:57PM

    Is very good i like growing vegetables.

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