With less than 2 weeks to new year we need to look at new agribusiness investment ideas for 2017. With many agribusiness ideas in Kenya out there its very hard to determine which one is the best for you and can generate good returns for you. I have personally tried a few investment ideas this year some failed while others succeed but with farmers optimism is key and we have to be patient and hope for the best in every season.

Below are 3 profitable agribusiness ideas in Kenya you can try out in to consider as you usher in 2017.


Onions take between three to five months to mature while the spring one takes a period of four to six weeks. They are very tolerant to heat but also require a lot of water to grow, so make sure to water them well.

The amount of rainfall required is 500-2000mm per year. The vegetable requires well drained soil of ph 6 to 7. They are first planted in a nursery then transferred to the field. They require a long dry period of ripening with less expense on pest.

How to plant onions

There are two ways in which onions can be planted namely;

  • Onion Sets
  • Seeds

Growing Onions from Sets

Onion Sets

Growing onions from sets is the easiest way to grow onions. Sets are dry onion bulbs harvested the previous year and have a higher chance of all sets sprouting.

This is done by pushing the set into dump soil until the top is visible and the onion will grow quickly.

One of the disadvantages of sets is that it is not easy to tell what type of onion variety you have apart from it being either red onions or yellow onions.

Round onion sets will produce flat onion bulbs while elongated or tear shaped onion sets will produce round onion bulbs.

Larger sets are best used as green onions while small sets are best left in the ground to form bulbs.

Usually onions do not flower unless grown from sets


 Planting Onions from Seeds

Onion Seeds
  1. Make a raised nursery bed 1 meter wide and any desired length. Apply well decomposed manure at a rate of 15kg per square meter.
  2. Mix and Apply DAP fertilizer at a rate of 20 grams per meter square
  3. 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 and 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.
  4. Germination of seeds will take about 7-10 days after which the mulches are removed and used to make a shade above the tender plants which have not fully developed.
  5. Transplanting of the seedlings takes place 6 weeks after planting seeds in the nursery. Transplant when the seedlings have 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.
  6. Wait about 4 months for onions to mature

Pests and Disease Control

Onion seedlings

Most common diseases you might encounter while growing onions are; blight purple blotch and thrips.

Purple blotch and blight are caused by fungus, with blight appears as whitish spots surrounded by a greenish halo. Purple blotch causes a purple discoloration of leaves.

Thrips are the most common and serious insect pest of onions, and are found wherever onions are grown.

High populations of thrips can reduce both yield and quality of onions. Thrips are most damaging when they feed during the early bulbing stage of plant development. Scarring of leaves is a serious problem on green onions.

Both diseases are common during periods of high moisture, proper spacing allows for ventilation reducing chances of fungal infection.

Thrips on the other hand are tiny insects barely 1mm long and can be eradicated using insecticide.


Onions are fully matured once the top part of the plant (leaves) has fallen over.

Harvest onions in the morning on a sunny day. After pulling the plant from the ground, allow the onion to dry then clip the roots and cut back the top to about 1 inch.

They must be dried thoroughly to avoid problems with rot. The entire neck (where the leaves meet the bulb) should be dry, all the way to the surface of the onion, and shouldn’t “slide” when you pinch it.

The key to preserving onions and keeping them from bruising is by keeping them in a cool dry place.

Remember to consume onions that are bloated or had flowered first as they have a short shelf life and would spoil faster.

The general rule is, the sweeter the onion the higher the water content and therefore the less the shelf life. The more pungent onions will last longer


20,000 Kgs

Capital Investment

Ksh 150,000 (Hybrid Seeds, Labour, Ploughing, Pesticides, Fungicides, Miscellaneous costs) This cost assumes you have irrigation, fencing and other miscellaneous costs in place.

 Expected Income

Market Price: Ksh 40 (Farm Gate)

Production Cost: Ksh 150,000
Average yield per Acre: 20,000 Kg

Ksh 40 x 20,000 Kgs = Ksh 800,000 (Revenue)

800,000 (Revenue) – 150,000 (Cost of Production) = Ksh 650,000


Most of us when we hear potatoes think about fries and how good they taste. Potatoes are common food source taken in the form of potato chips.

It is a good source of vitamins, potassium, fiber and phosphorus which are important elements require by the human body by assisting in maintaining level of blood glucose.

Potatoes require fertile and well-drained soil with some quantity of sand content to make it suitable. It is a highland crop therefore also requires cooler conditions with adequate water supply of about 500mm during the growth and maturity cycle. The crop takes between 90 to 120 days to mature after emerging from the soil.

Potato farming is reliable since the time for growth is relatively small and has an immense market demand. Therefore putting it on top of the list of what farmers are looking for to grow and get good money.

Things you need to know before planting Potatoes;

  • Average production of potatoes per acre
  • Cost of Potato Seed ( Certified seed sell at KES 3,000 per 100kg bag)

Types of Potatoes

  • Asante
  • Sanghi Tigoni
  • Kenya Karibu
  • Kenya mpya

How to Plant Potatoes

  1. Dig furrows with a spacing 75cm from one furrow to another and 30 cm from one seed to another and 10 cm. irish potatoes perform well in sandy-loamy soils that are well drained. The soil should have adequate organic matter and be slightly acidic with a pH range of 5.5-7.0.
  2. Mix the soil with D.A.P fertilizer at planting time at a rate of 200kg per acre (1kg DAP per 35m of furrow).
  3. Water regularly every week with a water supply of about 25mm.
  4. Covering the crops with soil is required (Earthing) as they grow with the final earthing up done at 25cm high


 Pests and Diseases

  • Blight
  • Bacterial wilt
  • Root not nematodes
  • Moths
  • Leaf Miners
  • Wire Worms


Potato Field

Potatoes mature 90 to 120 days depending on the variety. When the plant starts having yellow leaves and has easy separation of the tubers from their stolons that’s when you know its maturity.

Harvesting can be facilitated by removing the vines two weeks before the potatoes are dug up. The potatoes should always be handled with care to avoid bruising. This will provide entry points for storage diseases.


Potatoes should be kept in a cool and dark, well-ventilated environment with high relative humidity to prevent “greening”.

Potatoes that will be used for planting (Seed tubers) are normally stored under diffused light for good sprouting.

NB: Before venturing into potato farming you must first find out which seed variety is suitable for your area. You can know this by consulting agricultural experts or by asking farmers from your area which seed performs best with their soil.

The temperature range for Irish potatoes should be 10 to 24 degrees Celsius and rainfall amounts of 900-1,400mm per annum.



90 bags (100 Kgs) per acre

 Investing Capital

Ksh 62,000 (Certified Seeds, Labour, Ploughing, Pesticides, Fungicides, Miscellaneous costs) This cost assumes you have irrigation, fencing and other miscellaneous costs in place.

Expected Income

Market Price: Ksh 2,000
Production Cost: Ksh 62,000
Average Bags per Acre: 90 (100kgs per bag)

Ksh 2000 x 90 bags = Ksh 180,000 (Revenue)

180,000 (Revenue)- 62,000 (Cost of Production) = Ksh 118,000 (Net Profit)



This fruit does not need any introduction. If you have ever been thirsty and someone offered you a piece of watermelon then you know how juicy and satisfying watermelon is.

It’s a fruit that that does well in hot regions that gives them exposure to sun and high temperatures and this gives sweet taste when ripening.

Insect pollination contributes highly to the yield of watermelons and therefore contributes highly to yield of watermelon and therefore farmers is advised to put at least one beehive per acre piece of land, while reduce the use of pesticides.

The fruit matures between 4-5months period of time.


Watermelons are grown from seed. Watermelon seeds germinate easily and quickly, within a few days of planting. Their plants outgrow the seedling stage very quickly and they don’t like transplanting. It won’t help you in saving much time and you end up with a weaker plant.


Types of seeds

Open Pollinated Melons- Produced from self-fertilization of flowers of one variety.

Hybrid Melons- These come from a result of cross-pollination of melons. They produce higher yields.

Popular Varieties in Kenya include;

  • Pato F1
  • Sukari F1 hybrid
  • Charleston Gray
  • Early Scarlet F1
  • Sugar Baby


Watermelons require deep, rich, easily crumbled soils. Raising the soil into mounds will help your watermelon to grow well.

Making mounds has several advantages mentioned below:

  • Raising your soil will make it free draining (watermelons don’t like wet ground when developing).If your soil has heavy clay you will definitely need to raise it.
  • If your soil is poor and lacks enough nutrients you should also make a mound with a lot of compost. This will enable it to grow watermelons.
  • Making a mould would enable you to plant watermelons over large area. Raise your soil and plant like the large scale commercial growers.


How to Grow Watermelon

  1. Make shallow furrows with a spacing of 2m between rows and 1m between the holes where the seeds are to be planted.
  2. Apply fertilizer.
  3. Germination begins after 7 days and the first fruit will be seen after one month.
  4. After growth apply CAN every two-three weeks to help fix nitrogen in the soil.

Diseases and Pests

  • Leaf spot
  • Damping off
  • Powdery mildew
  • Blight
  • Flea Beetles
  • Mites
  • Leaf miners
  • Thrips



The tendril, nearest where the vine enters the watermelon turns brown and begins to die

Watermelons reach harvest 65 to 90 days after sowing. Smaller varieties will usually be ready before larger ones, but not always.

Knowing when a watermelon is ripe is an art, and you will get better at it with time.

When watermelons near maturity, the vine’s tendrils begin to turn brown and die. Some varieties develop a circular crack around the stem. Others soften at the blossom end.

Another sign is the light coloured patch on the bottom of the fruit where the melon touches the ground. It is initially greenish-white, but as the melon ripens the green tinge fades and it becomes yellowish. The skin overall becomes duller and tougher.

The fruit typically ripen over two weeks and soon as one melon is ripe, the others won’t be far behind.

Ripe Watermelon

The most popular way to tell if they are ripe is the sound. Knock them with a stick and listen for a dull, hollow sound. The unripe melons have a higher pitched sound. Keep knocking a lot of them and comparing sound until you can tell the difference.

As you see some of the signs emerging, limit water for the last weeks to before harvesting to concentrate sweetness. You should water only as necessary to keep vines from wilting.

After picking, watermelons will keep in the refrigerator up to a week, but they will last two to three weeks before cutting, without refrigeration, if kept in a cool, slightly moist place

Investing Capital

Production Cost: Ksh 150,000 (Hybrid Seeds, Labour, Ploughing, Pesticides, Fungicides, Miscellaneous costs). This cost assumes you have irrigation, fencing and other miscellaneous costs in place.




15,000 Kgs

The new hybrid varieties of watermelon can give you a yield of up to 20,000 (Kgs) fruits per acre.

Expected Income

Market Price: Ksh 30 per Kg

Production Cost: Ksh 150,000

Ksh 30 x 15,000 Kgs (Yield) = Ksh 450,000 (Revenue)

450,000 (Revenue)- 150,000 (Cost of Production) = Ksh 300,000 (Net Profit in 3 months)

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  • Graduate Farmer

    Empowering Ambitions, Cultivating Success: Graduate Farmer is dedicated to inspiring and equipping young men and women with practical solutions to kickstart and thrive in profitable agribusiness ventures across Kenya.

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Comments (4)

  • kevin December 29, 2016 Reply

    i want to plant potatoes in nyahururu 1 acre pc of land and bring them to nairobi but am afraid of the cost of transport,how do farmers in this area cut down the cost of transport and how do i go about finding the market for my produce

  • james April 10, 2017 Reply

    well done job,am a farmer farming cabbage and potatoes although my cabbages didnt do well last season.but am happy coz of your tip

  • maiyo dennis April 25, 2017 Reply

    Good work for your information…. I am a farmer growing potatoes and onions….. Kindly advice….

  • Fagade September 17, 2021 Reply

    How will I become agriculture

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