Kenya is one of the richest agricultural countries in the world today. Apart from growing its food for subsistence use, Kenya has heavily relied on its agriculture sector to grow and boost its economy. With the sensitization of the agricultural sector, the Kenyan agricultural industry is even bound to get better. Whether you are a youth or a grown up, the good news is that there are unlimited opportunities in the agricultural sector that you can reap huge benefits out of. However, before you begin this venture, you need to ensure that you have the right information. Two of the easiest and most convenient food crops you need to pay attention to on your farming undertakings are garlic (Kitunguu Saumu) and Onion. The following is a quick guide on the two including information on how to grow them and their markets.
Onion Farming in Kenya
Based on the 2014 Food and Agriculture Organization’s, more than fifty percent of all the red onions that are used in Kenyan homesteads came from the neighboring country, Tanzania. Three years after the report, Kenyans from all walks of lives have tried their best to ensure that this high gap is closed thus making the red onion a very lucrative agricultural investment business.
If you are planning on getting into the onion farming business, it is important to note that there are two major types of onions that are farmed in Kenya, the Spring Onions and the Bulb Onions. This is not enough; you also need to know that the most suitable areas to grow your onions include Mai Mahiu, Kieni, Karatina, Emali, Oloitoktok, and Naivasha. With these two essential must-knows, you should be able to get started on your journey of being an onion farmer.
Simple Facts about Onions Farming in Kenya
- Onions take three to four months of growth before reaching maturity
- The best time to plant onions in Kenya is always October and November. During this period the onions are able to benefit from the short season of rains, also allowing the onions to mature around January and February when the onion market is good. To succeed in this kind of farming, you should therefore consider the best time to grow onions in Kenya.
- Farmers who harvest their onions after March’s long rain season also get to enjoy the high prices of onions in the market.
Conditions for Growing Onion in Kenya
Onion is a natural spice that is used to flavor foods. With its ready usage in most homesteads, it is a fact that you will never go wrong when it comes to onion farming. However true this is, you need to ensure that you pay attention to the favorable growth conditions of this plant if you want to enjoy its yields. Here are some of the conditions you need to meet before planting your onions.
• Ensure you are planting your onions on a fertile, well drained, non-compacted sandy loam soil.
• Soil test your farm and ensure it has a pH value of about 5.8 to 6.8
• Onions grow well in temperatures between 13-35 degrees Celsius
• You can also grow your onions in greenhouses if you want to optimize its yields
• In terms of planting you need to grow 1kg of onion seedlings on 1 acre of land while applying 20 grams of DAP fertilizer per meter square.
• Finally, it is important to note that different onion seed variety performs differently in various parts of the country. While the best seed variety to farm in Kenya is the Jambar F1, it is good to consult with your Agrovet on the other varieties such as Red Pinnoy, Red Creole, and Red Bombay.
Challenges of Onion Farming in Kenya
While onion farming is a good investment when it comes to your farming activities, it can also turn ugly as it has its fair share of challenges. The following are some of these challenges you should look out for.
• Excessive water and rainfall
• Diseases such as Pink/White Root, Rusts, Downy Mildew, Botrytis, and Bacterial Soft Rots.
Current Onion Prices in Kenya/ Onion Wholesale Prices in Kenya
The business of farming is lucrative and this you will find out once you have paid attention to the above factors and you have a plentiful harvest for the market. Other than a good and readily available market, onions prices are also something that makes most farmers go for this trade. Currently, the prices for onions go at
825 Kshs per 15 kg bag in Nairobi
Ksh 1,174 per 15 kg bag in Mombasa
Ksh 1,491 per 15 kg bag in Eldoret, Nakuru
Garlic Farming in Kenya
Garlic farming is also another great agricultural investment that will guarantee you good returns within a short period. When farmed under the right conditions, garlic has the potential of bringing forth good returns. However, it is advisable that before you commit yourself to this farming, you need to ensure that you do extensive research on this product. The following is where you need to start your research at;
Conditions for Garlic farming in Kenya
• High altitudes of 500m to 2000m above sea level
• High temperatures of over 30°C for enhanced bulb formation
• Temperatures ranging from 12°C to 24°C
• Maintain cooler temperatures during the early stages of favorable vegetative growth.
• Organic manure is most preferred for proper development of the bulbs
• Unlike with onions, Garlic perform well in water clogged soils and take up 4-6 months to grow and can be harvested only after the leaves have withered
Cost of Onion Farming in Kenya and Business Profitability
If you are planning on doing onion farming, then I am glad to inform you that this is one agricultural investment you will never regret in life; however, only if you do it right. Do your research well and come up a good roadmap to your farming.
Onion and Garlic Farming Business Plan
The above information should help you come up with a good onion and garlic farming business plan before you start your farming. Like with any investment, note that how well you prepare for this venture will determine its overall success, therefore, ensure you get every step of your farming journey right if you are to enjoy maximum yields and returns. Our above comprehensive guide should help you get started.