There is a rising demand for locally grown onions in Kenya. Past estimates by the F.A.O showed that 50% of red onions consumed in the country are imported from Tanzania (which essentially means that local farmers are being overwhelmed by demand). So what could be better than growing red onions for a blossoming market?
It is possible to make very high returns per square foot with red onions. They are one of the most profitable plants. Here’s how you can make your first million with this spicy sensation.
First, understand this is not a get-rich-quick scheme at all. You certainly won’t make Ksh1 million overnight. But with smart choices and hard work, you really can make a decent income growing them. At the same time, as with any other business, it is important to start small, growing a few proven varieties the first season, and introducing more varieties as your knowledge improves or as you discover new options that do best in your area.
So let’s do the math. Most commercial growers use up to 5 acres of land. Such a plantation produces about 30 tonnes of onions in 4 months. Each Kilo is bought at a farm-gate price of Ksh40. That amounts to Ksh1.2 Million in sales.
How You Can Get Started
When you are ready to start, the first important thing to consider is your microclimate. Onions grow well in temperature range of 13-25 degrees centigrade (which means most parts of Kenya are ideal for this business). If you live in dries areas such as Ukambani, you will want to invest in greenhouses and drip irrigation systems to maximize production.
*DAP Fertilizer (20grams per square meter)
*Seedlings (1 Kg per Acre) – Each Kilo of seeds goes for Ksh6300.
*Soil testing is recommended
Different seed varieties perform differently under varying growing conditions. Jambar F1 is the most popular variety in Kenya. Your county agricultural extension office can help you pick the best varieties for your area, as can the seed companies that supply onion seeds.
Onions are however notoriously susceptible to disease particularly cutworms. You therefore need to keep your budget open for this.
When you are ready to harvest your onion crop, you have many options. These are just three of many:
Utugi TV Soko Freshi – This recently launched TV station helps small farmers advertise their products for a small fee to a targeted audience.
Direct Selling – You can approach potential buyers directly e.g. hotels, schools and other major organizations.
Middlemen – Middlemen are available to buy from your farm provided you have sufficient supplies. They however don’t offer the best market price (obviously because they buy to re-sell).
Could this be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for to launch your agri-business startup?