Butternut Farming in Kenya: Unlocking the Golden Harvest

If you’re a Kenyan farmer, you know the dilemma that has plagued yields for years: dwindling crop yields and uncertain futures. Butternut farming in Kenya, once a promising venture, now struggles under the weight of unpredictable weather patterns and diminishing returns. 

However, there’s a glimmer of hope on the horizon as agricultural innovations are emerging to unlock the golden harvest potential of Butternut farming in Kenya.

Moreover, it’s encouraging that there are numerous butternut exporters, and the butternut prices in the country are favorable

Hence you can venture into this business knowing that you’ll find a great market for your products, whether you opt to do it for local or international markets.

Keep reading if you’re a Kenyan farmer looking to know the best way to grow butternut for the best results and yields. We shall discuss everything, from butternut varieties to its growing conditions. 

Butternut Farming in Kenya: What Is Butternut?

Butternut is a moist flesh squash that grows on a vine. It’s at the heart of several delicious fall recipes from soups, salads, and stews, and its seeds can be roasted and used as snacks. 

Butternut is rich in vitamin C, potassium, and vitamin A.

Varieties of Butternut 

There are several butternut varieties, including

  • Autumn, glow
  • Atlas F1
  • Early butternut F1
  • Waltham,
  • Argonaut

Atlas F1, and Waltham are the most grown varieties in Kenya. 

Find Out: 5 Guaranteed Agribusiness Funding In Kenya    

Ecological Requirements for Butternut Farming in Kenya 

Rainfall Above 500 per annum
Altitude From 0-1700
Temperature Ranging from 21-28 degree celsius 
Soil PH ranging from 5.5- 7.5.
Ecological conditions for butternut farming in Kenya

3 Main Butternut Farming Tips 

1. Find Great Seeds

The first thing you should do is get good butternut seeds which is not a problem since there are numerous companies supplying butternut seeds in the country. Find out which butternut types are the best in Kenya, depending on your market.  

It’s essential, especially if you’re doing it for export, as you may need a particular variety. Collaborate with the exporter from the beginning to avoid making unnecessary losses.

Find Out: Profitable Agribusiness Ideas In Kenya 

2. Find a Market 

As soon as you’re sure of your production, start looking for a market. You should do this before your butternut is fully ready. Actually, it’s recommendable to have a ready market even before you plant. 

But if you have already planted, start looking for a market on day 60. This will give you adequate time to compare pumpkin prices in the country and come up with projections of your potential costs.

With an idea of butternut market prices, you’ll be able to handle pressures from middlemen. Butternut markets in Kenya are plenty but are only visible to the well-prepared.  

3. Develop Butternut Farming Business Plan 

Before starting, have a cost management plan.  Determine the amount you’ll spend on everything, including leasing land, input cost, seeds purchase, labor, and watering cost. This will provide you with a projection of the cost of spending. 

You should also have price and yield estimates and assess the prospective earnings on the low, middle, and high levels where you stand to make maximum profits. Weigh the costs and risks and decide if you’ll still venture into the business. 

This will help you avoid disappointments as you know what to expect.

The Right Butternut Farming Procedure in Kenya

Butternut farming in Kenya

It’s worth mentioning that you must adhere to the right procedure for a bumper butternut harvest in Kenya.

Here is the right butternut farming procedure in Kenya for high yields:

  1. Land preparation: You should plough your land early and deeply, approximately 20-30cm deep. Ensure you thoroughly remove the weeds, mainly the perennials.
  2. Planting: Dig holes 30cm wide and 1m apart, fill with 10kg of well-decomposed organic manure and mix well with the soil. Plant one seed per hole when rains begin or grow under irrigation. 
  3. Fertilization: Since they are heavy feeders, butternut responds well to fertilizers. In addition to planting your seeds in soils rich in organic manure, fertilizing your plants from time to time boosts the nutrient levels in the plants. Apply 10g of DAP per hole during planting, 10g of CAN during top dressing three weeks after planting, then repeat after 6 weeks. Apply foliar during the flowering and fruiting stage.
  4. Irrigation: Butternut seeds require consistently damp soil until they establish themselves. Keep the soils moist but not soaking; the seed should sprout in around 10 days. You should care for the leaves when watering as they prefer to stay dry. Water the base of the plant and avoid spraying the leaves.
  5. Pests and disease control: Pest and disease control is essential to butternut production. Butternuts are prone to various diseases and pests. If you need to apply pesticides or other such products, do it in the evening to avoid interfering with bees which are essential for pollination. 

Common Butternut Pests in Kenya and Their Control

You must know the types of butternut pests in Kenya and how to control them for a bumper harvest with guaranteed profits.

Here are the common butternut pests in Kenya and how to control them:

  • White fly: Spray using a suitable insecticide like Brigade.
  • Thrips: Spray using an appropriate insecticide like Dynamec
  • Leaf miner: Spray using an appropriate insecticide like Decis
  • Melon fly: Spray systemic insecticides like Alpha 10EC, or burry the infected fruit in the soil.

Butternut Diseases Management

Here are the common butternut disease and how to control them:

  • Downy mildew: Use appropriate fungicides like Ridomil gold, proper spacing to avoid spreading from plant to plant, destroy infected crop materials, and practice crop rotation.
  • Powdery mildew: Use fungicides like Ortiva, score, or Thiovit jet.


Butternut takes 80-90 days to mature. However, it depends on the variety; for instance, Waltham matures in 90-100 days. On average, yields range from 20-40 tons per hectare depending on the type grown and crop management.

You should place harvested fruits on dry grass or straw to prevent discoloration by soil. 

Butternut Farming Profitability 

Everyone practices farming for profit, no matter how passionate they are. The reason why it’s encouraging to hear that butternut prices are favorable and that there are several butternut exporters in the country.

Farmers are getting into butternut farming because they know they will find a great market for their products whether they decide to do it for the local or international markets. Many local buyers usually buy butternut for Ksh 20 per kg when the market is performing dismally.

This indicates that there is a chance to earn more when there is a shortage. You also have a chance to earn more when you choose to sell the products directly. It’s possible since butternut has a long storage life, and they don’t go bad easily.

If you’re patient and want super profits, then retail sales would be an ideal option for you. 

Butternut Uses and Recipes

Butternut soup

Butternut is a healthy vegetable that can be used and easily added to diets in the following ways:

  • Salads: Add roasted/cooked butternut, kale, and spinach in a bowl. Mix lemon juice and olive oil and pour over the salad mix—season with pepper and salt.
  • Roasted Butternut: Fresh butternut cut into pieces, pepper, salt, butter, oven/ microwave, and baking tray. Place the butternut pieces on the baking tray and season with pepper and salt.    
  • Soup: You require a few ingredients, including carrots, pepper, onions, butter, salt, potatoes, chicken broth or vegetables, leek, etc.
  • Pasta: You can add cooked/ roasted butternut to any pasta of your choice.

Nutritional and Health Benefits of Butternuts 

Improves EyeSight 

Butternut is rich in vitamin A- a cup of butternut contains over 350% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA), which is crucial for maintaining healthy vision. 

It’s also a good source of Lutein and Zeaxanthin, powerful antioxidants that can also protect your eyesight.   

Prevents High Blood Pressure

One cup of butternut has almost 500 mg of potassium, which can help reduce your blood pressure by neutralizing the effects of sodium in your diet. Maintaining a healthy blood pressure can help you avoid serious health problems such as stroke and heart disease. 

Helps in Weight Loss

With almost no fat, 26 carbohydrates, and 100 calories in one cup,  it goes without saying that butternut is the cheese to your diet’s macaroni. The fiber content helps increase satiety( the sensation of fullness), aiding in weight management.  

Reduces Inflammation 

Due to its high antioxidant content, butternut may contain anti-inflammatory effects, helping you to lower the risks of inflammation-related disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis.  

For instance, according to a Manchester University study, those with the highest antioxidant beta-cryptoxanthin intake were only half as likely to develop arthritis over 7 to 15 years as those with lower intake.  

Boosts Immune Function 

While vitamin C may not cure a common cold, it will help minimize the chances of developing further complications, like pneumonia or lung infection. Also, it may help protect you from other immune system deficiencies, like cardiovascular disease.

Keeps Bones Strong 

Manganese content in butternut is around 17% of your RDA. Hence it can aid your body in maintaining calcium absorption and healthy body structure and boost the mineral density of the spinal column.  

Meanwhile, vitamin C contributes to the production of collagen, which is necessary for forming bone mass. Other butternut minerals, like zinc, folate, and iron, help maintain bone health and prevent osteoporosis.  

Aids in Prevention and Fighting Certain Cancers 

Butternut is also one of the many superfoods that are cancer-fighting foods or contain cancer-prevention properties. Reason being the ideal way to lower the risk of cancer is to provide your body with nutrients that keep it healthy and capable of fighting diseases and infection.   

One of the butternut proteins has been discovered to prevent the growth of melanoma(skin cancer) cells, making it a potentially effective anticancer agent. This has been explored in laboratory and animal analyses.  

Research also shows that vitamin C can be therapeutic in cancer prevention or treatment.  

Promotes Regularity: 

The fiber content in a cup of butternut is 7g, which can help optimize the digestive process by supporting healthy bacteria in the gut and preventing constipation and bloating.   

Bottom Line 

Butternut farming is a lucrative venture in Kenya, considering that their prices are favorable and there are multiple butternut buyers. Also, the butternut yield per acre is an excellent motivation as one acre can produce more than five tones within three months.

As much as the venture appears promising, knowing the risks and profits is a great way to decide on any agricultural business. Consider the pros and drawbacks and make a decision.