Onion farming is one of the most popular commercial farming activities in Kenya, providing a good source of income for farmers in different parts of the country. Onions are used for culinary purposes and have a high demand in local and international markets. In this article, we will explore the different aspects of onion farming in Kenya, including the best time to plant onions, the best fertilizer for onions, how many onion seeds to plant per acre, the types of onion planted in Kenya, the expected yield per acre, the profitability of onion farming, the price of onions per kg, and some successful onion farmers in Kenya.
Best Time to Plant Onions in Kenya
The best time to plant onions in Kenya is during the short rain season, which falls between March and May. During this period, the soil is moist, making it easy for the onions to germinate and grow. The long rain season, which falls between October and December, is also suitable for planting onions, but farmers need to ensure that the soil is well-drained to avoid waterlogging, which can lead to poor onion growth and diseases.
Best Fertilizer for Onions in Kenya
Onions require a lot of nutrients to grow, and farmers need to provide them with the right fertilizers to achieve high yields. The best fertilizer for onions in Kenya is a balanced NPK fertilizer, which contains a mixture of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Nitrogen is essential for leaf growth, while phosphorus is needed for root development and potassium for general plant growth and disease resistance. Before planting onions, farmers should add well-decomposed manure to the soil to improve its fertility.
How Many Onion Seeds to Plant per Acre in Kenya
The recommended seed rate for onion farming in Kenya is 3-4kg per acre. This is equivalent to 90,000 to 120,000 onion seeds per acre, depending on the seed size. However, farmers need to ensure that they plant high-quality seeds to achieve high yields. Onion seeds should be planted 1-2cm deep in the soil, and the rows should be spaced at least 30cm apart to allow for easy weeding and harvesting.
Expected Yield per Acre of Onions in Kenya
The expected yield per acre of onions in Kenya varies depending on the farming practices, soil fertility, and weather conditions. However, with proper farming practices, farmers can achieve yields of between 10 and 20 tonnes per acre. Onions take an average of 90 to 120 days to mature, and farmers need to monitor their growth regularly and provide them with the necessary nutrients and water.
Types of Onion Planted in Kenya
There are several varieties of onion that can be grown in Kenya. Here are some of the most popular types:
Red Creole Onion
This type of onion is very popular in Kenya and is known for its red, round bulb. It has a strong flavor and can be used in a variety of dishes. The red creole onion is best suited for planting during the long rains season.
Also Read: Red Creole Onion Variety
Bombay Red Onion
This type of onion has a reddish-brown bulb and is known for its pungent flavor. It is a high-yielding variety and can be grown during both the short and long rains season.
Texas Early Grano Onion
This type of onion has a yellow-brown bulb and is known for its sweet taste. It is an early maturing variety and can be planted during the short rains season.
Jambar F1 Onion
This is a hybrid variety of onion that is high-yielding and disease resistant. It has a round, yellow bulb and is suitable for planting during the long rains season.
Red Pinoy Onion
This is another hybrid variety of onion that is suitable for planting during the long rains season. It has a red, round bulb and is known for its pungent taste.
How Many Tonnes of Onions Per Acre
The amount of onions that can be harvested per acre depends on various factors, including the variety planted, soil fertility, and the level of farm management practices. On average, a farmer can harvest between 15 and 20 tonnes of onions per acre.
How Profitable is Onion Farming in Kenya
Onion farming in Kenya is a profitable venture when done well. With good management practices and high-yielding onion varieties, a farmer can make a considerable profit. The cost of production per acre ranges from Ksh. 60,000 to Ksh. 100,000, depending on the level of mechanization and inputs used. On the other hand, the gross income per acre ranges from Ksh. 300,000 to Ksh. 500,000, with a net income of Ksh. 150,000 to Ksh. 400,000. This shows that onion farming is a worthwhile venture for farmers in Kenya.
Price of Onions per kg
The price of onions in Kenya varies depending on the season, supply, and demand. On average, the price of onions per kg ranges from Ksh. 60 to Ksh. 120. However, during the off-season when there is low supply, the prices can go up to Ksh. 150 per kg.
Successful Onion Farmers in Kenya
There are several successful onion farmers in Kenya who have made a name for themselves in the industry. One of them is James Kanyi, who is popularly known as “Onion King” in Kieni constituency, Nyeri County. He started onion farming in 2012 with only Ksh. 20,000 and now harvests over 80 tonnes of onions per season. Another successful farmer is Peter Kinyua, who started onion farming in 2008 and now owns a 10-acre farm in Nyandarua County. His farm produces over 150 tonnes of onions per season, making him one of the top onion farmers in the country.
Also Read: How Profitable Is Onion Farming In Kenya
Onion farming in Kenya has great potential for profitability when done well. Farmers can take advantage of the high demand for onions in the country and beyond by planting high-yielding varieties and practicing good management practices. It is also important to plant at the right time, use the best fertilizer, and manage pests and diseases effectively. By following these guidelines, farmers can increase their yield, make a good profit.
Sources: Muhanji, Gilbert. “Kenyan farmers reap benefits from better marketing.” Appropriate Technology 36.1 (2009): 24. Link: https://search.proquest.com/openview/e0260fa52bc8cc3accc4ffff84d5d815/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=25518
Njenga, Peter, Grace Wahome, and John Hine. “Pilot Study on First Mile Transport Challenges in the Onion smallholder sector.” AFCAP report, AFCAP/GEN/147 (2014). Link: https://www.research4cap.org/ral/Njenga-etal-Kenya-2014-Pilot+1stMile+Onion+Smallholders-AFCAPgen147-v140715.pdf