The bulb onion farming is steadily becoming popular among the Kenyan farmers. Its majorly practiced small scale. Over the years the onion farming is becoming popular to small scale farmers as they aim at narrowing the demand of locally produced onions over the imported ones. Most of onions consumed in Kenya are imported from neighboring countries specially from Tanzania.
This reduces market availability for the locally produced onion. This discourages the small-scale farmers who have a lower competitive edge. The red bulb onion farming has both pros and cons depending on the farmers experience in growing onions, climate, capital, labour and market. Red bulb onions require certain conditioning.
This include soil PH of 5.8-6.5, temperature of between 15-16c.suitable land, moderate short rainfall. At favorable weather conditions bed bulb onions take an average of 3-4 months to mature. The most suitable regions for farming in Kenya include parts of lower Eastern and Rift valley, as well as central part.
Farmers in these regions make use of the short rains to harvest their onions between the months of January and February. During this time, they have a large market to supply since there is lower supply from Tanzania. Harvesting is done during dry season.
This is when the onions form a shiny cover around the foliage or when the foliage withers. The bulbs are pulled from the ground then the leaves are chopped off, before onion been dried in the sunlight and stored. Red bulb onions have a longer shelf live and can be stored for up to 5 months.
This is a good venture although farmers face a lot of challenges. Excess rainfall is the main threat. However, drip irrigation is the most ideal method of irrigation in such a case. Alternatively, farmers may decide to wait onset of short rains.
Pests and disease also pose a threat to red bulb onion farming. With availability of herbicides and pesticides this should be controlled effectively. Red bulb has varieties which include; red create, Bombay red, Rio Grande, red pinary F1 and Red passion F1 just to mention a few.
A small-scale farmer with a hectare of land and a capital of about sh.30000 can get a lot of profit. This capital is able to cover all expenses adequately. From equipment like rakes, hoes, sprayer and other expenses like seeds, labour and herbicides.
If good farming practices are followed a famer should be able to harvest at least 10000kg of onions. Supposed the market price is at sh.70 per kg a farmer should get a total of sh.700000.This only for one planting season. Red bulb onion farming is good venture compared to tomato farming since little labour is involved and less expenses too. Onions are not prone to attacks from pests and diseases and has a longer shelf life compared to tomatoes.