This article focuses on onion farming in Kenya. Onions are used as cooking ingredients or flavour additives in most households in Kenya. Onion farming is a very profitable venture with a ready market in the country.
Onions are mainly grown in areas such as Kieni, Karatina, Oloitoktok, Naivasha, Mai Mahiu, Emali and some parts of the Western region.
Varieties of Onions Grown in Kenya
The major types of onions grown in the country are;
- Bulb onions.
- Spring onions.
Ecological Conditions for Growing Onions
- Well distributed rainfall that ranges between 500- 700 mm.
- Temperature range between 15- 30°c.
- Altitude of 500-2000m above sea level.
- Fertile and well drained soils with pH of 6.0- 7.0. The soil should be rich in nitrogen.
- Onions are heavy feeders. Therefore, they require consistent feeding. This is to enable them to produce big bulbs.
- According to agricultural experts, land should be ploughed 2-3 weeks before planting.
- Before planting, it is advisable to apply about 40 tons of organic manure which should be well decomposed.
Onions can be grown from transplants or seed sets. They are best grown during cold and wet seasons.
If propagation is through transplants, the seedlings should be transplanted 6 to 8 weeks after growing in the nursery. The transplanted seedlings should be grown at a spacing of 10cm X 8cm.
If the seeds are sown directly, planting holes should be 2.5cm deep and about 10cm apart.
Onions require a lot of nutrients to perform well. This means you should apply the necessary fertilisers early enough.
The recommended fertilisers include TSP/DAP (200kg per hectare) during planting and CAN (300kg per hectare), this is 3 weeks after transplanting.
Pests and Diseases Management
Common pests that attack onions include leaf miners, onion fly and onion thrips. Diseases include fusariombasal rot, white bulb rot, purple blotch and downy mildew.
To manage such pests and diseases, you need to practice crop rotation, proper field hygiene and probably plant resistant varieties.
Harvesting is best done during the dry season. Bulb onions take 3-4 months to be fully ready for harvesting while spring onions take 2-4 weeks.
An acre can produce approximately 20 tons of onions. However, this depends on factors such as climatic conditions, variety grown, soil type… etc.
Onion Market In Kenya
Onions are majorly sold in fresh produce markets in Kenya. One kg of onions is sold between Kshs 40-60 in the local market.
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