Trade and Economic Activities

The main economic activities in Malindi are agriculture, fishing, trade, tourism, salt extraction and construction. Malindi produces abundant crops such as mangoes, cashew-nuts, coconuts, and livestock for both domestic and commercial use. The production of sorghum which was important in the past has drastically declined. The farm produce was depended on slave labour before slavery and slave trade were outlawed in 1873. Produce from Malindi were exchanged overseas to the Middle East, China and Far East as well as other coastal towns such as Zanzibar, Lamu and Pate. Malindi also engaged in iron and rubber production as well as the cultivation of sesame, tobacco, millet, maize, cassava, sugarcane and bananas. Due to the many historical and cultural sites that attract visitors to Malindi, tourism has also emerged to be the main economic besides agriculture.

Blue Fin Fish Market

The old Malindi fish market built in 1960 lies between the House of Columns and Shella Mosque, on the Sea front road near the jetty. Sun drying and smoking of shark meat was a means of preservation. Fresh fish was sold inside the building, while excess catch was either dried or smoked and transported by the mail bus to Mombasa for sale.




Source: MMS Archives



Fishermen carry their catch to the fish market in a picture taken around the 1960’s. Liwali’s Baraza is at the far right end of the jetty. The customs warehouse is directly ahead of the fishermen.

Source: MMS Archives


Dugong being striped into steaks. The steaks are distributed free to bystanders who have come to see the rare animal..

Source: MMS Archives

Photo by Mrs. O’Hara-Brady


Photo donated by Jamal Haffidh, E.S. Martin (Malindi Past and Present)


Man transporting mangrove (boriti) poles from the beach. The poles were delivered from mangrove swamps by jahazi boats. Harvesting mangrove today requires a license from the Forestry Department. The Middle-east was the main export market for the poles before the Government banned the trade in the 1980’s.

Source: MMS Archives



Photo donated by Jamal Haffidh, E.S. Martin (Malindi Past and Present)


Water from the mkunguni well was the sweetest, almost like mineral water. Water vendor would drop a mkungu leaf to prove to the buyers that he had fetched water from mkunguni. Marasi is the stick used on the shoulders to support the suspended

water containers. The water vendors are still operating in places like Lamu. Malindi now relies on tap water.

Source:MMS Archives

Pictorial Picture of Malindi


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