Smart Farming: Onion

Well, if it’s for order, then onion is the second staple food after ugali in Kenya. This is a proof that it has market.  Farming of onions can be either in open farms or green house. Bulb onions preferably Jambar F1, which is bigger and have a long lasting span of up to 6 months after harvest, take 4 months to mature and its profit return per acre is great.

Rosemary, an onion farmer from Kamulu, Kasarani gives a story of how she began onion farming where she only required a piece of land( open farm) , a kilo of seedlings, and 80g of DAP fertilizer per acre. She says, onions do not require a lot of water and therefore favorable in well drained sandy fertile soil. This shows that it is productive in most parts of Kenya.  Green house onion farming mainly takes place in drier areas.

Onion farming of course is not all rosy. It has some challenges. For instance, Excess rain causes water logging. Drip irrigation is proffered over other types of irrigation because it doesn’t encourage logging.

Diseases and pests offer threat to growth of onions.  Diseases such as rust and bacterial soft pots reduce onion production. Pests such as maggots and thrips make the onions to rot. Timely interventions are necessary for maximization of harvest.

Weeds are threat to any crop and onions are not an exception. As a farmer, you should commit to weeding 2 -3 times during each season. One can opt for plastic munch which kills the weeds.

Onions are daily requirements and therefore there is available market. Just like any other business, it has its fair share of challenges. Robert,  a student who is also venturing in onion farming advices farmers to plant during short rains which will give them a higher return during harvests in January when the supply is limited.