When you want to cook Managu what do you use? Onions. When you want to cook meat, what do you use? Onions! Nearly every meal of the average Kenyan has to have onions as part of the ingredients. This tells you something about the market out there. There is a high demand for onions! If you’re interested in tapping into this demand and making a profit from it, onion farming in Kenya can be a lucrative business opportunity. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how to start and manage an onion farm in Kenya.
Profit Potential of Onion Farming
In just three months, an acre of hybrid bulb onions can give you an income of Ksh 350,000. After transplanting the onions for 3-4 months, you can produce a yield of 20,000 kg of bulbs. At the current farm gate price of Ksh 25 per kg, that’s Ksh 500,000 in revenue. Subtracting the average cost of production (approximately Ksh 150,000), you’ll have a net income of Ksh 350,000.
High-Yielding Onion Varieties
To maximize your onion farming profits, it’s important to choose the right varieties. Some of the high-yielding onion varieties in Kenya include Jambar F1, Red Pinoy F1, Red Comet F1, and Red Passion F1.
How to Plant Onions
Starting your onions in a nursery is key to getting the best results. Here’s how to plant onions:
- Make a raised nursery bed that is 1 meter wide and any desired length. Apply well-decomposed manure at a rate of 15kg per square meter.
- Mix and apply DAP fertilizer at a rate of 20 grams per meter square.
- Make shallow furrows 15 cm apart. Mix the seeds with dry ash, sand or soil at a ratio of 1:3 to help spread the small seeds.
- Plant the seeds and cover lightly with soil, then apply mulches (grass or polythene cover spread over the soil on the nursery bed).
- After planting, irrigate the nursery bed liberally for the first 10 days and continue watering regularly.
- Germination of seeds will take about 7-10 days. After germination, remove the mulches and use them to make a shade above the tender plants which have not fully developed.
- Transplant the seedlings six weeks after planting the seeds in the nursery. Transplant when the seedlings have a pencil-thick base and a height of approximately 15cm. Seedlings should have 3 to 5 well-formed leaves at transplanting time.
- Two weeks before transplanting, reduce the shade to improve seedling survival rate in the field.
- It takes about 4-5 months for onions to mature.
Onion Farming in Kenya
Onion farming can be done in greenhouses and open gardens. Before you start, you need to check and confirm market availability, onion prices, and the variety of the plant. The market price for onions changes constantly, so do your research before planting.
Onion farming in Kenya can be a profitable venture, but it requires good farm management practices. Onion farming is labor-intensive, and challenges will arise, especially when starting. However, with time and experience, you can overcome these challenges and succeed in onion farming. Consult with onion farmers in your area to get inspiration and a better understanding of how onion farming works. They will help you start your own onion farm and how to handle the challenges that arise.