This article focuses on lemongrass farming in Kenya. Lemongrass is a tropical perennial herb with high demand locally and internationally. It is a popular herb that can be used to produce spices, herbal tea and essential oils.
Lemongrass Growing Areas in Kenya
Lemongrass grows well in areas with a warm climate and adequate rainfall. The Western region, Coastal region, Central region and parts of Rift Valley are ideal for lemongrass farming.
Varieties Of Lemongrass Grown in Kenya
- East African Cymbopogon Citratus.
- Cymbopogon Martini.
- Cymbopogon Winterianus.
- Cymbopogon Flexuosus.
- West Indian Cymbopogon Citratus.
Ecological Requirements for Lemongrass Farming
- Slightly acidic and well-drained soil with a pH of 5.5- 7.5. Sandy loam soils are ideal.
- Warm and humid climate.
- Temperature range between 20°c- 35°c.
Land should be thoroughly prepared to a fine tilth. Ensure you clear all the weeds to avoid competition that may exist for important nutrients.
Once you have ploughed the land, you can add well-decomposed organic manure to improve soil structure and fertility.
Lemongrass can be propagated by seeds or stem cuttings. Most of the farmers in Kenya use stem cuttings.
For the cuttings, plant them in well-prepared rows with a spacing of 60cm between the rows and 30cm between plants.
Seeds can be sown directly in the field or land. Cover them with a thin layer of soil then water them. The seeds will start germinating after about 14 days.
Pests and Diseases
Just like any other plants, lemongrass is susceptible to pests such as aphids, mites, grasshoppers and diseases such as leaf rust and fungal infections.
The pests and diseases can be controlled by using recommended pesticides and fungicides, planting resistant varieties and practising proper field sanitation.
Lemongrass takes about 6-8 weeks to be ready for harvesting. It all depends on the variety planted and climatic conditions.
Harvesting is done by simply cutting the stalks at the base using a sharp object.
An acre can yield about 5-10 tons of lemongrass.
The Market for Lemongrass in Kenya
The market for lemongrass in the country is promising, with an increasing demand for lemongrass products locally and internationally.
The biggest buyers of lemongrass are food processing companies, manufacturers of spices and herbal tea companies.