Worldwide, herbs and spices are much used as food flavorings, preservatives, medicine, perfume, coloring among other uses. It is often the allure of the various herbs and spices that entice people into consuming spicy food and beverages; or purchasing products such as perfumes, soaps, lotions, cosmetics with such exotic additions.
Aromatic herbs have the potential to be the next big thing in Kenyan horticulture. The farming and trading in herbs and spices such as coriander, orange thyme, common thyme, lemon thyme, chia seeds, rosemary, basil, mints, sage, oregano among many others in Kenya, is on the rise thanks to the growing demand in both domestic and exports markets.
For the longest time, herbs and spices have been under supplied by Kenyan farmers. However, more farmers are undertaking herbs and spice farming after realizing the lucrative markets with stable market prices compared to other produce. Kenya has the perfect climate conditions to produce many of the aromatic herbs. Many herbs are able to thrive in conditions under which other crops are unable to grow.
Herbs such as marjoram, lavender and sage are able to grow in relatively harsh conditions and can survive with minimal amount of rain. It is also easy to grow these herbs commercially using only natural rainfall. Though herb cultivation is a lucrative venture, it is capital intensive and high risk field which has no shortcuts. The farmer needs to do research on the type of herbs they want to plant and get the necessary training and guidance. It is also important to identify a market before planting.
Additionally, there is much that the farmer needs to invest in, including a pack house and a cold storage. Herbs are highly perishable and degenerate very quickly thus timelines have to be adhered to and should be transported with cold refrigerated trucks where a constant temperature of 40° C is maintained throughout the supply chain, until they are delivered to the client. Nonetheless, the herbs can be harvested, dried and packaged for sale.