Watermelon farming in Kenya

Watermelon farming in Kenya

Watermelon farming in Kenya

In this blog, we shall explore Watermelon farming in Kenya which is popular in Kenya because the fruit is in high demand during hot seasons. Let’s dive into Watermelon cultivation in Kenya.

What is Watermelon farming in Kenya?

Watermelon farming in Kenya has emerged as a lucrative venture, propelled by the country’s conducive climate, its juicy sweetness and high nutritional value have made it become a staple fruit enjoyed by many across the globe.
In Kenya, Watermelon farming does well mostly in hot regions like Makueni, Machakos, Kajiado, and the coastal regions. Watermelon is a sweet fruit with pink, red, and sometimes yellow flesh, depending on the variety. The following is the Watermelon cultivation in Kenya process.

Climate and Soil Requirements

Kenya provides climatic conditions that are favorable for watermelon cultivation across various regions. Watermelon requires warm temperatures of between 22-30 0C which is fit for the growth and development of this crop with plenty of sunlight.
It does well at altitudes of up to 1500m above sea level and with an optimum rainfall of 600mm per cropping season. Regions such as Eastern, Coastal, Rift Valley, and parts of Western Kenya offer suitable conditions for successful watermelon farming.

Seed selection

For one to get excellent results, the choice of seeds that you will use is very important. Watermelons have different varieties and each variety has its unique characteristics and is suited for different growing conditions and markets. In the Kenyan market, there are different varieties which include:

  • Sugar Baby: Have very sweet melons red flesh, short vining plants, good for limited space.
    Sukari F1
  • Zuri F1
  • Kubwa F1
  • Crimson Sweet
  • Charleston Gray
  • Sweet Rose F1
  • Pato

Land Preparation and Planting

Land preparation is a step that includes plowing and harrowing the land to a fine tilth and incorporating organic matter such as well-decomposed farmyard manure to improve soil fertility and structure.
Before planting, it is advisable to conduct soil tests to determine nutrient levels and pH that should be between 6-7 enabling farmers to make informed decisions regarding fertilizer application.
Watermelon seeds can be directly sown into prepared beds or raised in nurseries before transplanting into the field.


Plant spacing typically ranges from 1.5 to 2 meters between rows and 60 to 90 centimeters between plants, depending on the variety.
It is important to ensure that the seedlings are protected from strong winds and direct sunlight until they are well established. The watermelons germinate in 7 days and the first fruits are seen from day 30


Watermelon farming in Kenya requires adequate moisture throughout its growth stages, particularly during flowering and fruit development. In dry seasons it requires regular irrigation.
Drip irrigation systems are the most commonly used in watermelon farming since they deliver water directly to the plant roots, reducing water wastage and minimizing weed growth.
Proper water management practices should be observed in ways such as mulching which helps to conserve soil moisture and suppress weed growth, contributing to healthier plants and higher yields.


Soil fertility tests guide the farmer on which fertilizer to apply and ensure that plants receive adequate nutrients throughout their growth cycle. Fertilization is also an important aspect of watermelon farming.
Watermelons require a balanced fertilization program, including the application of both organic and inorganic fertilizers. The recommended ratio of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium (NPK) for watermelon is 1:2:1and micronutrients help promote vigorous plant growth, flowering, and fruit set.
It is advisable to consult with a local agriculture expert to determine the right fertilization program for your farm. Organic fertilizers such as compost and manure are valuable sources of nutrients and contribute to soil health and fertility.

Pest and Disease Management

Insects are a major problem in watermelon production. Watermelon crops are susceptible to various pests Cucumber beetles, aphids, leafminers, Thrips, and Melon flies that cause crop losses.
Farmers can use Integrated pest management (IPM) strategies, including cultural, biological, and chemical control methods for monitoring insect populations with traps and scouting will help you determine when to apply pesticides and how often to spray. Regular scouting and early intervention are essential for effective pest and disease management.


Harvesting watermelons at the right maturity stage is essential to ensure optimal sweetness and flavor. Watermelon species vary from the other but all fall under a maturity period of 80-100 days.
For a farmer to know whether the watermelon is ready for market includes various characteristics a dull or matte appearance of the fruit surface, a change in the color of the tendril nearest to the fruit stem from green to brown, and a hollow sound when thumped.
Handle them with care during harvesting to avoid loss. In post-harvesting, washing, grading, and packaging, help maintain fruit quality and extend shelf life, enhancing market value and consumer satisfaction.


The watermelon market in Kenya offers lucrative opportunities for farmers, with both domestic and export markets driving demand for high-quality produce. One melon can be divided into many pieces that each will cost Kes 20 which will amount to Kes500.
The cost of watermelon cultivation is estimated at Kes300,000 per acre.

Benefits of Watermelon Farming in Kenya

  • Helps in blood sugar management
  • Keeps you hydrated
  • Aids in weight loss
  • Helps to prevent cardiovascular disease
  • Fights inflammation
  • Good for nerve function
  • Decreases severity of Asthma
  • Reduces dental problems

Challenges of Watermelon Farming in Kenya

  • Lack of Irrigation Requirements
  • Pest and Disease Pressure
  • Climate Variability
  • Market price fluctuations


Watermelon farming in Kenya holds 60 %potential for enhancing food price security, income generation, and rural development.


1. What are the main pests and diseases that affect watermelon farming in Kenya?

Common pests that affect watermelon farming in Kenya include aphids, spider mites, thrips, and fruit flies. These pests can cause damage to the plants and reduce yields.
They can be reduced using Integrated pest management (IPM) strategies, including cultural, biological, and chemical control methods.

2. What are the recommended irrigation practices for watermelon farming in Kenya?

Drip irrigation systems are the most commonly used in watermelon farming since they deliver water directly to the plant roots, reducing water wastage and minimizing weed growth.

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