Table of Contents

Introduction to Lemon grass farming. 1

Lemongrass in Kenya. 2

Lemongrass varieties in Kenya. 3

How to propagate Lemon grass. 4

Field management. 6

Harvesting and Post-Harvest Handling. 6

Economics of lemongrass. 7

Cost Of Lemongrass Production in Kenya per acre. 7

Profitability of Lemongrass Farming in Kenya. 8

How to maximize production per unit of land. 9

Pest and Disease Control 10

Pests: 10

Diseases: 10

Lemongrass Market in Kenya. 11

Market Demand:. 11

Uses Of lemongrass. 12

Conclusion. 12

Introduction to Lemon grass farming

Lemon grass botanically classified as Cymbopogon citratus, is an aromatic grass belonging to the Poaceae family. It is a perennial plant that thrives in warm, tropical to subtropical climates and grows upright, reaching anywhere from 1 to 1.8 meters in height. It is grown for its fragrant leaves and stalks which are used as a flavoring. It grows in many parts of tropical and sub-tropical South East Asia and Africa. Most of the species of lemon grass are native to South Asia, South-east Asia and Australia.

There are two main species of lemon grass in Asia, namely; West-Indian Lemongrass, Cymbopogon citratus, and East-Indian Lemongrass, or Cymbopogon flexuosus. West-Indian Lemongrass is the type most used for culinary preparations, sometimes written as Lemon Grass, while East-Indian Lemongrass is used for its essential oils to scent perfumes, soaps, and lotions.

Lemongrass is favored for its tangy, light, and bright citrus-like scent and taste, but its lack of bitterness makes it distinct from other citrus flavors. This allows chefs to add complexity to dishes and mask pungent odors to balance flavors in recipes. Lemongrass is a traditional element in Indian, Thai, Indonesian, Malaysian, Sri Lankan, Vietnamese, and Cambodian cuisines. The easy-to-grow plant is commercially cultivated, offering the stalks in fresh, dried, or powdered form, and can also be found worldwide as an ornamental home garden plant.

The name lemongrass is derived from the typical lemon-like odour of the essential oil present in the shoot. The grass grows in dense clumps and has several stiff stems and slender blade-like leaves which droop towards the tips. The leaves are blue-green in color, turning red in the Fall and emit a strong lemon fragrance when damaged. Lemongrass produces large compound flowers on spikes when grown in the tropics, but rarely flowers when grown in more Northern latitudes.

Lemongrass is native to tropical regions of Southeast Asia and has been growing wild since ancient times. Over time, Lemongrass was spread into the rest of Asia, Africa, and Australia, where it has since been naturalized and widely planted in home gardens. After World War I, Lemongrass was also introduced to Central and South America, Mexico, the Caribbean, and the United States. Today Lemongrass is found worldwide, purposely planted in tropical to subtropical regions as a medicinal and culinary species. The plants are commercially cultivated, especially in India, and are also grown in home gardens for personal use. Lemongrass can be found at fresh local markets, specialty retailers, and select grocery stores.

Lemongrass in Kenya

In Kenya, lemongrass farming has gained significant popularity among smallholder farmers due to its potential for high returns and the increasing demand for lemongrass products in local and international markets.

Lemongrass can be grown in many regions of Kenya, but the crop thrives best in areas with warm temperatures and adequate rainfall. The plants can be grown at temperatures ranging from 10 to 33°C  but will grow optimally at temperatures between 25 and 30°. The grass will grow in a wide range of soils but grows best in well-draining, fertile loam with a pH between 5.0 and 8.4. The grass can also be successfully grown in containers. Plants can be successfully grown in full sun or partial shade.

Below are some of the best regions in Kenya to grow lemongrass.

  1. Coastal Region: The coastal region of Kenya is known for its warm and humid climate, making it an ideal location for lemongrass farming. The region receives adequate rainfall throughout the year, and the soils are rich in nutrients, making it ideal for lemongrass production.
  2. Western Region: The western region of Kenya is characterized by high rainfall and a warm climate, making it suitable for lemongrass farming. The region has fertile soils and is ideal for farmers who want to grow lemongrass on a large scale.
  3. Rift Valley Region: The Rift Valley region of Kenya has diverse agro-ecological zones, ranging from semi-arid to sub-humid. The region has a warm climate and receives adequate rainfall, making it suitable for lemongrass production. The region also has fertile soils, which can support high yields of lemongrass.
  4. Central Region: The central region of Kenya has a temperate climate and receives adequate rainfall, making it suitable for lemongrass farming. The region has fertile soils, which can support high yields of lemongrass.

Lemongrass varieties in Kenya

In Kenya, there are several varieties of lemongrass, each with distinct characteristics and uses. These varieties are differentiated by their morphology, aroma, and chemical composition. The following are the main lemongrass varieties grown in Kenya.

  1. East African Cymbopogon citratus: This variety is native to East Africa and is the most commonly grown lemongrass variety in Kenya. It has long, slender leaves that are light green in color. The plant has a strong citrus aroma and is used in the production of essential oils, herbal tea, and spice.
  2. West Indian Cymbopogon citratus: This variety is also known as Indian lemongrass and is native to India. It has wider leaves than the East African variety and is darker green in color. It has a sweet lemon fragrance and is commonly used in the production of essential oils and perfumes.
  3. Cymbopogon flexuosus: This variety is native to Southeast Asia and is commonly known as Cochin grass. It has long, thick leaves that are blue-green in color. It has a strong lemon aroma and is used in the production of essential oils, herbal tea, and spice.
  4. Cymbopogon winterianus: This variety is native to Java, Indonesia, and is commonly known as Java citronella. It has long, narrow leaves that are dark green in color. It has a strong citrus aroma and is commonly used in the production of insect repellents and essential oils.
  5. Cymbopogon martinii: This variety is native to India and is commonly known as palmarosa. It has long, narrow leaves that are grayish-green in color. It has a sweet, floral aroma and is commonly used in the production of perfumes and essential oils.
  6. Hybrid lemongrass varieties that are a result of crossbreeding between different lemongrass varieties. These hybrids are developed to enhance specific characteristics such as yield, oil content, and disease resistance.


Chemical composition of lemongrass varies depending on the variety, growth stage, and environmental conditions. The main compounds found in lemongrass that are responsible for the characteristic lemon scent are citral, geraniol, and limonene. These compounds have numerous medicinal and therapeutic properties.

How to propagate Lemon grass

Lemongrass can be grown in three ways, namely: by seed, by cuttings and /or by splits.

To grow by seed, select the desired plant and leave it without harvesting until it produces seeds. On average, a healthy plant gives about 100 to 200 g of seeds. These seeds are then planted in a well-prepared fertile nursery. Seeds germinate in 5 to 6 days if temperature and moisture levels are correct and the seedlings are ready for transplanting when they are about 60 days old. Transplanting is done in the evening after a good watering of the seedlings. The aim is to minimize shock. The receiving field should have been prepared in advance, the soil being well mixed with organic manure \d stater fertilizers and well-watered. Plant the cuttings in rows with a spacing of 30 cm between plants and 60 cm between rows. Ensure that the planting depth is at least 5 cm.

Lemongrass can also be propagated by dividing stalks from the rhizome of a well-established plant or dividing the bulb by slicing through the rhizome with a sharp spade or trowel. Always ensure that each new plant has its own rootstock.

This type of propagation is possible because Lemongrass is a clumping grass, which means that it grows multiple stalks from the base. These stalks can be divided and planted in a different location.

The separated stalks are then planted in rows of spacing of either 40cm by 40cm, 40 cm by 50 cm depending of soil fertility and availability of water resources. The soil needs proper preparation which includes adequate compost well mixed with the soil to a depth of 5cm

To propagate through cuttings, take mature lemongrass plants, cut the stalk cleanly with a knife about an inch from the ground. This will allow the stalk left in the ground to regrow. Cut off the leaves and use them in your cooking, then cut off the upper portion of the stalk, leaving only the bottom three to four inches to allow for successful root formation. Don’t cut off any of the bottom portion of the stem. If you do so, it’s unlikely to be able to form roots. To root your cutting, place it in a cup of water with the base of the stalk submerged. Change the water daily. The plant will begin forming roots within a week. After two to three weeks, the roots will be large enough to support the plant and therefore can be transplanted into well-aerated, nutrient-dense soil. This is done by digging a half-inch hole and placing the cutting root side down, and backfill around the stem with soil.

Depending on spacing, it is possible therefore to get at least 25,000 plants per acre

Field management

Lemongrass should be planted in a well-drained soil that is rich in organic compost and minerals. The soil must be kept moist but not waterlogged. Lemongrass requires regular rainfall and if being grown in drier climates the plants should be watered and misted regularly, at least two-three times a week

Plants have a heavy requirement for nitrogen during the growing season and should be fertilized with a balanced soluble fertilizer once a month. Use nitrogen-rich organic fertilizers to support your plant’s growth. Container grown plants should be fed more frequently.

Lemongrass can grow very large and will quickly out compete weeds. However, younger plants should be kept free by carefully cultivating or hand pulling any weeds from around the plants.

Harvesting and Post-Harvest Handling

Lemongrass is harvested for both the stalk and foliage. The most edible part is near the bottom of the stalk; therefore, this is where the focus of the harvest is. Lemongrass is ready for harvest at any time once the stalks have reached 1.3 cm in thickness and 90 cm in height. To maintain high quality at harvest, it is recommended to harvest before the height of 90cm. Harvest is done by cutting stalks at ground level with a sharp knife, or by bending the stalk and twisting. Cut the plant 10-15cms from the ground level to ensure faster regrowth. The plant re-grows after the first harvest and within 90-120 days it is ready for the next harvest. Under normal conditions, three harvests are possible during the first year, and 3-4 in subsequent years, depending on the management practices, soil fertility and availability of water. If the land is not very fertile and there is water shortage, even then you get 2 harvests from this plant. Don’t harvest more than 1/3 of the plant at a time.

An acre of lemongrass has the potential to provide a harvest of 10,000kg the first year and increasing to 12,000kg in succeeding years

Lemongrass stalks multiply and grow big. Therefore, it should be divided every few years. A four-year span is recommended so that during the fifth year the division and replanting process begins. Share the extras with aspiring lemongrass farmers or increase your acreage. This is best done at the onset of the rainy season to ensure minimum stress and a good establishment of the new crop.

Economics of lemongrass

Lemongrass is a highly valuable crop due to its multiple uses. It is used in the production of herbal tea, essential oils, and as a spice in food preparation. The essential oil derived from lemongrass is highly sought after in the beauty and skincare industry due to its numerous benefits, such as its antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Lemongrass has a high potential for export. Kenya can export lemongrass products to countries such as the United States, Europe, and Asia, where there is a high demand for natural and organic products. Kenyan farmers need to tap into the export market, and therefore need to be aware and comply with international quality and safety standards.

Cost Of Lemongrass Production in Kenya per acre

Lemongrass farming involve costs that a start-up farmer needs to be aware in order to maximize on its production. The following are the major costs involved:

ItemLower CostHigher CostUnitsTotal Lower CostTotal Higher Cost
Land Acquisition4,000.0020,000.0014,000.0020,000.00
Land Preparation15,000.0040,000.00115,000.0040,000.00
Labor Costs10,000.0010,000.0012120,000.00120,000.00
Pesticides And Herbicides5,000.0010,000.00315,000.0030,000.00
Miscellaneous Costs:50,000.0050,000.00150,000.0050,000.00

Using the above rough estimate, the costs involved in lemongrass farming per acre in Kenya can range from Ksh. 500,000 to Ksh. 1.8 million, depending on various factors. However, with proper farming practices and good management, lemongrass farming can be a profitable venture for farmers in Kenya.

Profitability of Lemongrass Farming in Kenya

The expected production per acre on lemongrass farming in Kenya can vary depending on various factors such as the farming practices used, soil fertility, and climatic conditions and availability of water.  However, on average, a farmer can expect a yield of between 5 to 10 tons of lemongrass per acre.

Lemongrass is a perennial plant that can grow for up to 4 to 5 years if well-maintained. A farmer can enjoy a continuous harvest over over this period after which they can replant the crop afresh and continue enjoying the benefits.

Here is a detailed breakdown of the expected profitability of lemongrass farming per acre in Kenya:

ItemLower AmountHigher AmountPriceLower TotalHigher Total
Farming Costs469,450.001,805,900.001469,450.001,805,900.00

How to maximize production per unit of land

Employ the use of well-prepared mature manure during land preparation applied to a well-prepared land one month before planting. Use manure at a rate of 20 to 30 tons per acre. This will help improve soil fertility and provide the necessary nutrients for the young plants.

During planting, ensure that the planting material has well set root. Plant with root development enhancing fertilizer, preferably organic in nature.

After planting, the first fertilizer application should be done at four weeks after planting. Apply a basal dressing of 100kg of NPK fertilizer (23:23:0) per acre preferably organic. This will help promote early growth and establishment of the lemongrass.

The second fertilizer application should be done two months after planting. Apply a nitrogen based organic fertilizer containing at least 26% N. This will help promote vegetative growth and ensure a healthy crop.

This process of applying base and nitrogen fertilizer is repeated after every harvest.

Weeds can compete with lemongrass for nutrients and water, thereby reducing the overall yield of the crop. Farmers should regularly weed their crops and use appropriate weed control measures to prevent weed growth.

Proper farming practices such as regular weeding, fertilization, and pest control can increase the yield of lemongrass and improve the quality of the harvest. This can help farmers command a higher price for their lemongrass in the market, thereby increasing their profitability. It is also imperative to seek to lower farm management costs such as use of agrochemicals and fertilizers by embracing best agronomic practices that are cost effective.

Farmers can also increase their profitability by adding value to their lemongrass. Value addition can include activities such as distillation to extract essential oils or processing the lemongrass into tea, which can fetch a higher price in the market.

Pest and Disease Control

Lemongrass is susceptible to various pests and diseases such as grasshoppers, shoot borers, and rust. Farmers should regularly monitor their crops and use appropriate pest and disease control measures to prevent damage to the crop.


AphidsSmall, soft-bodied insects that suck sap from plant tissues, leading to distorted growth and sooty mold development.Introduce natural predators like ladybugs, use insecticidal soap or neem oil, and practice regular monitoring
GrasshoppersThese chewing insects can consume significant amounts of foliage, leading to reduced plant vigor and growth.Implement physical barriers, remove weeds, use insecticides, and encourage natural predators.
Scale InsectsTiny, immobile insects that attach to plant surfaces and feed on sap, causing yellowing and weakening of the plant.Prune affected leaves, use horticultural oils, introduce beneficial insects, and maintain plant hygiene
MitesSmall arachnids that feed on plant fluids, causing yellowing and stippling of leavesSpray with water to dislodge mites, introduce predatory mites, and apply neem oil or insecticidal soap


Fungal Leaf SpotCircular or irregular spots on leaves with fungal growth. Can lead to leaf yellowing and defoliationAvoid overhead watering, promote good air circulation, and apply copper-based fungicides preventively
RustRust-colored spores on leaf surfaces, causing lesions and weakening the plant.Remove and destroy infected leaves, space plants adequately, and use fungicides if necessary.
Bacterial Leaf BlightWater-soaked lesions on leaves that later turn brown and dry, leading to defoliation.Practice good sanitation, avoid overhead watering, and remove and destroy infected plants
Root RotFungal infection that affects the roots, causing wilting and stunted growth.Ensure proper drainage, use well-draining soil, and avoid overwatering.
NematodesMicroscopic worms that attack the roots, leading to poor nutrient uptake and stunted growth.Rotate crops, practice proper sanitation, and consider using nematode-resistant varieties

Lemongrass Market in Kenya

Market Demand:

The demand for lemongrass can vary depending on the market conditions and the target market. The market for lemongrass in Kenya is significant and growing, with both local and international demand.

Lemongrass is used in various industries such as the food and beverage industry, cosmetic industry, and the pharmaceutical industry. Farmers can tap into these markets to sell their lemongrass and earn a good income. In terms of domestic consumption, lemongrass is widely used in the preparation of traditional dishes and beverages, such as chai ya tangawizi (ginger tea) and masala chai (spiced tea). The herb is also used in the production of essential oils, which are used in aromatherapy, perfumery, and cosmetics.

The export market for lemongrass from Kenya is also growing, with the herb being sold to countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United Arab Emirates. The demand for Kenyan lemongrass is driven by its high quality, unique flavor, and the growing popularity of herbal teas and natural products in international markets.

The prices of lemongrass in Kenya vary depending on the season, location, and quality. On average, a kilogram of fresh lemongrass can be sold for Kshs 200-800 at the farm gate. The price may increase during periods of high demand or when there is a shortage of supply. Processed lemongrass products, such as essential oils, command higher prices in the market.

Overall, the market for lemongrass in Kenya is promising, and there is potential for farmers to increase production and earn more income by tapping into both local and international markets.

Uses Of lemongrass

Lemongrass is a versatile plant that is used in various ways. Here are some of the most common uses of lemongrass:

  1. Culinary Use: Lemongrass is widely used in culinary dishes, particularly in Southeast Asian cuisines. It has a unique citrusy flavor that adds a refreshing taste to dishes. Lemongrass can be used in various forms such as fresh, dried, or powdered.
  2. Medicinal Use: Lemongrass is also known for its medicinal properties. It contains essential oils that have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties. Lemongrass tea is a popular home remedy for colds, coughs, and fever. It is also used in aromatherapy to help relieve stress and anxiety.
  3. Insect Repellent: Lemongrass is a natural insect repellent due to its strong citrus scent. It is commonly used as a mosquito repellent and can be applied topically or used in candles, incense, or diffusers.
  4. Beauty and Personal Care: Lemongrass is also used in beauty and personal care products such as soaps, shampoos, and lotions. It is believed to have antifungal and antibacterial properties that help improve skin and hair health.
  5. Flavoring: Lemongrass is used to flavor beverages such as tea, cocktails, and smoothies. It adds a unique taste to these drinks and is a popular ingredient in various alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
  6. Essential Oils: Lemongrass essential oil is widely used in aromatherapy and personal care products. It has a refreshing scent that is believed to help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.

Overall, lemongrass is a versatile plant that is used in various ways. Its unique flavor and scent make it a popular ingredient in culinary dishes, personal care products, and insect repellents. Its medicinal properties also make it a popular home remedy for various ailments.


In conclusion, lemongrass farming in Kenya is a viable and profitable venture. With the increasing demand for lemongrass products, farmers can tap into the local and international markets and improve their livelihoods. However, to achieve success, farmers must adopt good agricultural practices, access reliable markets, and comply with international quality and safety standards. With proper planning and execution, lemongrass farming can be a game-changer in Kenya’s agricultural sector.

Lemongrass farming in Kenya has the potential to transform the lives of smallholder farmers by providing a source of income and creating employment opportunities. With proper planning, site selection, land preparation, planting, maintenance, harvesting, post-harvest handling, and marketing, lemongrass farming can be a profitable venture. By tapping into the local and international markets, lemongrass farming can contribute significantly to the country’s economy while improving the livelihoods of farmers.





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