Onion Farming in Kenya: A Comprehensive Guide

Onion farming in Kenya has become a common farming venture for many farmers who grow for both domestic and commercial purposes.
The high market prices of onion bulbs motivate most farmers to try onion farming. However, most of them fail to attain the initial goal of high production levels. The reason being malpractices they normally take in the production process.
Aqua Hub Kenya offers a perspective approach to great season of onion farming in Kenya by conducting research and offering support through affordable drip kits.

Benefits of Onion Farming in Kenya

As you know, onions are one of the main vegetable ingredients for cooking most Kenyan meals, its demand is high. The plant is nutrient rich and has low-calorie content, recommended for low blood pressure.

Mastering Onion Farming in Kenya

Let’s iron out all the requirements and practices that will guarantee your onion farms generate maximum income.
The onion bulb can grow to its full expected size, provided you keep tabs on where you are growing it. Most places have been identified suitable for garlic production.
Open fields, gardens, backyards or inside greenhouses can support production of quality and tasty onion bulbs.

Onion Species to grow in Kenya

Red Creole, Red Pinny, Jambar 1 and Red Bombay are common varieties that do well in the Kenyan climate. Red Creole is the best onion species that grows well in Kenya.

Conditions for Growing Onions

Growing conditions for onions depend on the growing stage of the plant.
Suitable soils are loose and well drained soils that contain a PH level of 6.0 to 7.0. The bulb prop or germination requires loose and well aerated soil to enhance quick root development. Water retention is also important for onion growing soils.
A temperature of 15-30 degrees Celsius is ideal to grow various onion varieties.
The terrain or topography of the farm is the most concern for most places have undulating slopes that are not ideal.
Always opt for a slightly flat land which can drain water well during rainy seasons. If the land is a plain, you need to dig trenches or make beds to plants onions. Water logging needs to be avoided since it greatly reduces the yields and affects quality.

Drip Irrigation for Onions

Onion plants need water constantly, as per the species you are growing. Water should be supplied in small tons or precise manner, that is why recommend a drip irrigation method.
You may be aware of the common drip kit components we supply to our clients. However, if you are new to this method, here are common requirements.

  • Drip tapes
  • Drip connectors
  • Valves
  • Supply mainline and sub-mainline pipes.
  • Water irrigation filters
  • Water storage tanks and stands.
  • Tank connector

The assumption is that your landscape allows for setting up a drip irrigation system. That is, flat and clear land that cannot prevent pipe layout or navigation through your onion farm.

Installation of Drip Irrigation System for Onions

How to Start Onion Seedlings

It is challenging and sometimes costly, so it is wise to generate your own seedlings from a seedling bed.
Don’t worry if you are new to this; here is a full step-by-step DIY (do it yourself) guide to onion Propagation.

  1. First cultivate your land and clear all obstacles.
  2. Ensure the soil is fine and well cultivated to 4 inches deep.
  3. Make your seedling beds. Should be 30 cm height and big enough to hold your seedlings. Will depend on the size of your entire farm.
  4. If you are making several beds leave a walking distance of 1meter in between.
  5. Propagate your seeds.
  6. Cover your seedling beds with organic mulches, leaves or build a shade net structure around it.
  7. Irrigate your onion seedling bed until germination occurs.
  8. Seedlings take almost 1 week to germinate, on soft well drained soils. Once they germinate, remove mulch covering to enhance sunlight and aeration.
Onion Farming in Kenya

Approach to Transplanting

After 4–6 weeks of seedling growth, you can transplant them to a farm. Before you start transplanting prepare your farm by cultivating and digging planting holes.
Ideal holes should be 15 cm deep and spaced 20 cm apart. This spacing gives them a good allowance for maximum bulb formation.
You can then transplant the seedlings while adding manure or DAP fertilizer to boost soil fertility.

Uncovering the Challenges of Onion farming and their Possible Solutions

Onion farming is full of shortcomings from start to full growth periods. It only takes resilience and commitment to undertake steps and recommended solutions to beat them.
To know how to deal with such challenges, we need to understand them. Some of the common challenges are:

  • Lack of adequate water – As revealed, onions require high water uptake during the development and bulb formation. You should use a method that saves water and balances its use in onion farms. For example, drip irrigation kits can balance water supply to each onion plant line. You can also decide to irrigate during dry sunny days and stop when rains are available.
  • Excess water supply – Overwatering can slow down the growth process. To solve this problem, you need to enhance growing in beds or dig trenches across farm sections.
  • Pest and diseases – Pest and diseases occur due to high weed growth. While growing under drip, it is rare for weeds to grow, but you need to remove them on time once they appear.

Cost of Starting Onion Farming in Kenya

The entire cost of starting onion farming depends on several factors such land, water availability, seedlings purchase and fertilizer supply.
Are you leasing a farm?
When you are growing onions in a leased farm, the cost of leasing will be an additional cost to the overall planting budget.
Is there constant supply of water in your farm? Water is the ideal resource to enhance growth of your onions. For proper
Do you have ready to plant seedlings? Seedlings can be costly to buy rather than preparing them.
What is the cost of Irrigation?

If you are relying on irrigation to produce your onions, you need to consider the cost of irrigating your onion crops.

Cost of 1 acre onion Drip Kits

Size/ Line per bed1 Line2 lines3 Lines
1 acre75,000130,000160,000
1/2 acre40,00061,00071,000
1/4 acre28,00040,00050,000
1/8 acre13,00023,00026,000

Drip Kit Supplier in Kenya

Aqua Hub Kenya enhances sustainable onion farming in Kenya by conducting research and support to farmers by providing affordable drip kits.
Contact 0790719020

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