Mandate: develop, promote and regulate the Nuts and Oil crops industry in Kenya.

The coconut subsector in Kenya

  • Coconut sub-sector is made up of 10 million trees, covering 82,921 ha supporting about 95,000 households.
  • The coconut sub-sector has a potential national aggregate value of KES 25 Billion annually only about KES 13 Billion (52%) value is being exploited.
  • Industry contribution is 0.4% of total National GDP Value and 1.5% of the Agriculture sector GDP contribution
  • The coconut tree can produce more than 100 products however Kenya produces 20 products due to limited research on value addition & product development
  • Production of nuts per tree stands at 50 - 75 pcs per tree.
  • There are two nuts production seasons in Kenya - low(April-October): low supply, high demand, high prices; high (November -March)
  • The aggregate increase in supply has generally increased activity in the sub-sector-awakened value addition, replanting (total of 2million seedlings planted since 2010)

Nuts and Oil Crops Industry Overview

  • The scheduled nuts and oil crops in Kenya include coconut, Cashewnuts, Macadamia, Oil palm, Sunflower, Sesame, Castor, Canola, Peanuts, Bambara nuts, Sunflower, jojoba, linseed (flax seed).
  • Subsector is important as a source of processed edible oil, animal feed and industrial oil.

Coconut Industry Supply Value Chain

The coconut industry in Kenya has been taking a deliberate shift to value-added products like Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO), Coconut milk, Coconut powder, Desiccated coconut, Coconut water, Coir and coir-based products, Coconut shell charcoal/activated carbon among authors to increase export income.



Whole nut Coconut products and by-products in Kenya

1. Nut

10. Coir ropes

2. Virgin coconut oil

11. Coco-peat

3. Coconut cream and milk

12. Vinegar

4. Animal treats

13.Artifacts from shell

5. copra cake

14. shell   powder

6. Coir fibre

15. Crisps

7. Copra oil

16. Coconut water

8. Desiccated coconut

17. Charcoal

9. Candies

18. Copra and copra cake




Virgin coconut oil (VCO) has a high local demand as well as high export market potential. Only a few entrepreneurs however, are capitalizing on this opportunity due to several factors such as lack of rigorous economic analyses and unavailability of information on market opportunities. It is against this background that an economic analysis of the viability of this enterprise is done here under.

Interestingly studies done elsewhere found that VCO provides the highest net return per 1,000 coconuts utilized compared to other traditional coconut kernel products. The payback period for the initial investment on machineries was little over a month under current prices of inputs and outputs. Sensitivity analysis suggested that the crucial factor that determined the economic viability of processing VCO was the world market VCO price and the sensitivity on the net return of VCO production for the nut price which was low. The breakeven price of one litre of VCO was found to be US $ 4.8 whereas it received US $ 8 in the world market. The study therefore concluded that there is need to encourage VCO production among coconut growing communities given the long term brighter outlook of the global VCO industry.


A myriad of products can be produced from the coconut tree. Over one hundred products can be produced from the tree. A focus of products produced from the wood of a senile, old coconut tree is worth considering.

 An old senile coconut tree of sixty years and above which is not bearing fruit is a good source for hard wood timber. Normal life span of coconut tree is about 70 years and after the effective time of the tree, it is normally cut for timber use. Emphasis is put on an old senile tree past it bearing stage because it is noted that rampant logging of fruit bearing coconut trees is rampant in many parts of the coastal region. This logging is contributing to the reduction of coconut production, a trend that the government is reversing through provision of coconut seedlings to farmers so as to plant not only in the traditional coconut growing regions but also in new ones.



Coco peat known as coir pith, coir fiber pith, coir dust, is made from coconut husks which are byproducts Coconut Industry where they separate Nuts from husk & Fiber. Coir Waste is collected from various places and the facility washes the materials, Screened and graded into Coco Peat to be used for Agricultural, Horticultural & Industrial applications. This Coco Peat is packed in the Form of 5 kg blocks, 650 grams briquettes & Discs. By addition of water the Compressed Peat Expands and gets aerated. One Kg of Coco Peat can hold up to 15 liters of water.


Application of Coco Peat


Producers of growing media.


As a potting mix.


As a soil conditioner.


Seedling nurseries/seed raising substrate.


Golf constructors /sports field constructors.


Lawns, nurseries & landscaping.




Desiccated coconut (DC), also known as coconut powder, is in dry form and has many applications. Its shelf life is longer and it is easy to transport. Fresh coconuts have limited availability as well as shelf life once their shells are removed. Hence, dried coconuts in the form of coconut powder have become mass consumption items due to their availability round the year across the country, longer shelf life, reduction in wastage, convenient and freedom to the consumers to buy the required quantity. Desiccated coconut is not used in large quantities in individual households but its main consumers are confectionary and biscuit industry. It is also used in the preparation of sweets, and other food and snack preparations. Thus, restaurants and certain food processing units and caterers are bulk and regular consumers.


Coconut water is the natural isotonic beverage that has almost the same level of electrolyte balance as in our blood. It is the 'fluid of life'. It also contains essential nutrients such as proteins, amino acids, sugars, vitamins and biological growth factors and enzymes that promote anti-aging, healthy cell growth and rehydration.

Coconut water has become quite popular as an emerging, natural and healthy product. It has gained high popularity especially in the non-traditional markets because of its beneficial properties as a healthy beverage and a sports drink. It is a very good rehydrating drink after sports and physical exercise. Market promotion and quality standards should be maintained to be able to expand the market.


Coconut flour is a by-product of the VCO process. It is a food-grade product obtained after drying the residue in VCO or coconut milk processing. This defatted fresh coconut meat finely grounded into powder is very similar in consistency to wheat flour.

Coconut flour can be used in baking recipes. It is a delicious, gluten-free and health promoting food as it has high dietary fiber. It can be used in making high-nutritious breakfast bread (20 – 25% blend with wheat flour), cereals and cookies. The use of locally available coconut flour is indeed a great opportunity for import substitution and savings on foreign exchange.


Coconut sap based products such as coconut sugar/jaggery, beverage, coconut syrup/honey, toddy and vinegar are gaining some attention by consumers mainly due to their beneficial properties. Coco sugar’s glycemic index is low at 35 that can be taken both by normal and diabetic patients. Coconut sugar also contains macro and micronutrients as well as essential vitamins. Indonesia produces 600,000 tonne annually of the healthy raw coconut sugar, mostly for domestic consumption. Most of the producers are small to medium scale, village level operations.

Coconut based alcoholic beverages particularly, coconut arrack, coconut vodka, coco wine, have also gained popularity in the domestic as well as international market.

Coconut Shell Charcoal (CSC) and CSC Based Activated Carbon

Production of coconut shell charcoal and its subsequent conversion to activated carbon have opened up an avenue for industrial level processing for value addition of these by-products.

Coconut shell activated carbon is one of the major agents in the purification of drinking water, medicines, sugar and industrial gases. Though activated carbon can be made

from various kinds of biomass, coconut shell based activated carbon is reported to be superior in quality and commands a good price in the international market. Coconut shell charcoal forms the best raw material for producing granular activated carbon, an important product for many industries.

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Selected Coconut Products Product



Coco peat

Coco peat (also known as cocos or coir) is the pithy by product from coconut husk.

It is used as growth medium for high value crops. Its demand in Kenya is rising.

Also used as an industrial absorbent

Coconut milk

This is the white liquid that comes out after pressing wet, grated coconut kernel

Used as ingredient in preparation of various dishes especially Swahili delicacies

Coir Fibre

This is the fibrous material found inside the coconut husk

Typically, white coir spun into yarn is used in the manufacture of rope and, thanks to its strong resistance to salt water, in fishing nets.

Brown coir is stronger and more widely used than white coir. Applications include: brushes, doormats, rugs, mattresses, insulation panels and packaging

Copra / Copra cake

This is the dried kernel or meat of the coconut i.e. the white flesh inside the shell

Copra cake  is the residue of copra after extraction of oil

Coconut oil is extracted from it

The resulting residue called copra cake is used as livestock feed