Onion business in Kenya

How To Start Onion Farming Successfully In Kenya

If you’re looking to start onion farming in Kenya but aren’t sure where to start, the answer is simple. 

In Kenya, onions are an essential crop and should be a part of your everyday diet. But how exactly can you grow them? 

Here are some tips! 

Soil pH in onion farming soil pH is one of the most important factors when it comes to growing onions successfully. 

The pH level of the soil will determine how much available magnesium exists in the soil. 

This means that higher levels of magnesium will result in a higher concentration of alkaline soil which is known as high Mg in onion farming.

Healthy, richly-charged soils are easily accessible where you live and can be added directly to your vegetable patch. 

Onions do well in a variety of soil types but we love to grow them in loams or organic soils as these are typically ideal for growing plants such as this. 

Keep reading for everything you need to know about starting onion farming in Kenya!

What Is Involved In Onion Farming?

Onion farm

Onion farming is a highly profitable business that has been practiced for centuries in many parts of the world. 

The main ingredients of any good onion crop farming are healthy, rich, and deep soil and a strong, sturdy (or hardy) and healthy plant. 

There are many different types of onions and many different ways to cultivate them.

How To Set Up An Onion Farm In Kenya

Setting up an onion farm in Kenya is not a difficult job. All you have to do is find the right partners, buy the right seeds, and find a good place to start, you can do onion farming in Kenya successfully.

When it comes to the partners, find an onion grower who can help you with the whole process. 

You can also find onion farmers who are willing to sell their products as wholesale products. 

You can also search for onion farms in Kenya that sell onions through an online marketplace like African Seeds.

Once you have your partners, you then need to find a good place to farm your onions. You can either buy or rent your land. 

You can also find partners to help you find a good source of finance, depending on your needs. 

Then you can also choose to use a leasing option to get your land leased. 

The most important part of setting up an onion farm is finding the perfect climate for your onions. 

An onion that is grown in the wrong climate won’t produce good quality onions.

Climate requirements

A perfect climate for an onion farm is warm temperature and low humidity. 

The temperature for your onion farm should fall between 26 and 30 degrees Celsius. 

If the temperature is too high, the onions won’t be able to produce properly. 

If the temperature is too low, then your onions may be killed by the frost. 

Soil requirements

You can grow onions in any type of soil, but you need to make sure it has the right nutrients. 

For your onions to grow properly, the soil should have a pH level of 6.0 or below. It should also have a clay content of 2-3%. 

The ideal soil texture for onion farming is loam with a texture like grits. You can also add compost or manure to increase the nutrient level in your soil. 

You can also purchase soil testing kits or visit your local extension office to find out the soil quality of your land. 

If you don’t have good soil, then you won’t be able to grow high-quality onions. It is important to remember that you can’t just plant onions on any soil. 

You need to find good, fertile soil for your onions to grow well. 

Land preparation

When you first buy your onion farmland, you will need to prepare the land. 

This includes removing weeds, digging out the earth, and adding organic matter to your soil. 

You should also remove stones or any other rocks that are on your land, as they can block the water flow. 

When you buy your land, ask the seller how they prepared the land before and make sure that the same process is followed on your land. 

You can also plant maize, sorghum, or legumes alongside your onions. These crops help in yield and soil fertility.

Seed rate, treatment, sowing season, & sowing method

The seed rate refers to the amount of seed you’re planting in a specific area. 

The best way to determine the seed rate for your onion farm is to plant some onions and then count the number of onions that sprout from the seed. 

You can also use a seed rate calculator to help you with this. The best way to plant your onions is to sow them in rows. 

This way, you’ll be able to easily manage the crop. You can sow the onion seeds on the 15th day after the planting date. 

You can sow the onion seeds in rows 2.5 to 3 feet apart. But you can also sow the onion seeds in transplant beds. 

This way, you’ll be able to easily harvest the onions. If you want to produce high-quality onions, you will need to sow the seeds at the same depth and spacing. 

You can sow the onion seeds in a drum of soil with a depth of 5-6 inches and you can also sow the onion seeds in a plastic tray filled with soil.


To produce high-quality onions, you need to provide your onions with adequate irrigation. 

This can be done through sprinklers or water channels. You need to water your onions regularly to ensure that they don’t dry up. 

If they do this, then they will be killed. You can also use a rain gauge or a hygrometer to determine when to water your onions. 

Make sure to water your onions at the right time to ensure that they don’t fall behind in the growth cycle.

Weed control

You will need to control weeds on your onion farm. 

If the weeds are left unchecked, then they will consume all the available nutrients in your soil, which will affect the onion’s growth. 

You can use a weed controller to control the weeds in your onion farm. 

If you don’t want to use a weed controller, then you can use a manual weed pulling machine. This will help to remove weeds from your onion farm. 

You can also use a ground cover to keep the weeds at bay. 

These coverings can help you to manage the soil, block sunlight, and also provide protection to your onions.

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What Is The Ideal Soil Ph For Farming Onion In Kenya?

The ideal soil pH for growing onions in Kenya is between 5.5 – 6.5. 

This is because, at this level, the amount of available magnesium available in the soil is sufficient to make up the entire soil profile. 

This is the “magic” pH level where most of the nutrients are stored in the soil. 

Getting too low or too high of a pH can result in nutrient-poor soil that is difficult to grow onions in.

3 Steps You Can Take To Increase The Soil Magnesium Level In Your Garden

The first and most important step to increasing the soil magnesium level in your garden is to increase the water infiltration rate. 

This will result in a higher concentration of magnesium in the soil and a more favorable environment for growing onions. 

Soil that is too dry is very easy for plants to grow in and can have a large negative impact on the overall health of your garden. 

In order to maximize the water infiltration rate in your garden, you can:

1. Place a water-conserving device near the soil line. 

This will divert water from the ground toward the upper layers of your soil where it can be more effectively absorbed.

2. Place organic matter (such as grass clippings, leaves, or a mulch of your choice) on the surface of the soil where water infiltration is expected to occur. 

This will help retain the moisture in the soil and prevent it from evaporating too quickly.

3. Apply a water-soluble fertilizer (such as a Fertilizer For Garden Or Home) when the soil is too dry and the risk of yield loss is high.

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The Most Common Onion Varieties In Kenya

Knowing which variety to grow and how to raise them successfully is essential for anyone who wants to reap the rewards of this activity. 

Here are the main varieties of onion available in Kenya, their respective growing requirements, and optimal planting periods. 

It also lists important tips on how to care for them properly so that they yield as much as possible each year.

1. Red Onions: The most commonly grown variety in Kenya

Red Onions

Red onions are the most commonly grown variety in Kenya. These are the only onions available in red or pink form. 

Red onions are a good source of carotenoids and flavonoids, which are micronutrients that promote immunity and reduce the risks of certain diseases. 

They are also rich in vitamins B1, B2, and niacin, minerals like potassium, manganese, copper, iron, and dietary fiber. 

Red onions are high in polyphenols and quercetin, two compounds that promote immunity and are commonly used for the treatment of diabetes and high cholesterol. 

Onions are rich in flavonoids and carotenoids, which help to maintain a healthy immune system, reduce the risk of certain diseases and improve blood glucose levels. 

They are also rich in minerals like potassium and calcium for strong teeth and bones.  

They are also rich in dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals like potassium and calcium for strong teeth and bones.

2. Yellow Onions: Another popular variety for growing in Kenya

Yellow Onions

Yellow onions are another popular variety of onions available in Kenya. Like red onions, yellow onions are high in vitamins and minerals. 

However, they have a sweeter taste and are better for marinating or flavourful dishes. 

Yellow onions contain an enzyme called flavanone, which is responsible for their sweet taste. 

It’s a great option for those who don’t care much for the strong taste of red onions. 

Yellow onions are rich in vitamins B6, B9, and C, folic acid, and minerals like manganese and phosphorus. 

These nutrients promote healthy skin, hair, and nails and strengthen the immune system. 

Yellow onions are rich in vitamins B6, B9, and C, folic acid, and minerals like manganese and phosphorus. 

These nutrients promote healthy skin, hair, and nails and strengthen the immune system.

3. White Onions: A good option for those with a green thumb

White Onions

White onions are the most common type of onion grown in greenhouses in Kenya. 

They are rich in antioxidants, which help to fight diseases by reducing oxidative stress in the body. 

Unlike the red and yellow varieties, white onions are not high in vitamins. 

They are, however, high in dietary fibers, which provide a feeling of satiety after eating just a few. 

White onions are also rich in minerals, like calcium, iron, potassium, and zinc, which are essential for strong teeth and bones. 

How To Start Onion Farming In Kenya?

If you’re looking to get into growing your own vegetables but aren’t sure where to start, the answer is simple. 

In Kenya, onions are an essential crop and should be a part of your everyday diet. 

But how exactly can you grow them? 

Here are some tips!

  • You can start growing onions in your garden or plot of land. They are easy to start and grow.
  • You can either plant them all at the same time or in groups of three or five.
  • You can plant them directly in your garden or you can purchase irrigation equipment to water and fertilize your crop multiple times a week.
  • The best time to plant onions is between May and September.
  • Although they can be planted in any month, the months with the most rainfall are the best to grow onions.
  • Onion farms usually consist of one or two rows of onions with space between them for better air circulation.

Tips For Farming Onion In Kenya: First-time Onion Farmers

If you are planning on starting an onion farm, you need to make sure that you are ready for this task. 

You will need to find good partners, get the right seed, prepare the land, find the best irrigation options, and much more. 

You need to find the best onion seed varieties and make sure that you are planting them properly. 

But you can also use a soil moisture monitor to determine when to irrigate your onions. The best way to learn about farming is to read books. 

You can read many books on farming and also hire professionals to teach you about farming. 

There are many online resources that can help you find the best farming books. You can also visit libraries to find books on farming. 

The most important thing that you need to remember when starting an onion farm is that you need to be patient and persistent. 

If you are willing to be patient and persistent, then you will be able to grow high-quality onions.

When To Plant Onions In Kenya

You can start planting your first set of onions in your garden or plot of land from May to September.

You can plant an initial set of three or five depending on your yield expectations. 

If you are planning on growing large numbers of onions, you should consider growing them in large pots so you can easily transfer them from one plot of land to another.

Points to consider:

  • Plant three to five sets of onions in each plot of land you are planting in.
  • Space the onions one set deep and two sets apart for a yield of three to five onions per plot of land.
  • By planting in this way, you are encouraging root growth and remain an excellent source of potassium.
  • You can also plant them in groups of three or five.
  • When planting in groups, plant the larger variety at the center of the plot and the smaller ones around it.
  • The ideal growing season for growing onions in Kenya is between May and September.
  • Avoid planting in extremely dry conditions and poor soil conditions.
  • If you are planting in areas that are extremely dry, rocky, or extremely poor soil, you can consider growing potatoes instead.
  • Onions are also a good source of manganese.
  • You can also plant potatoes in groups of three or five.

The Early Maturing Onion Varieties 

There are many onion varieties that are early maturing. This means they don’t need an extensive warm temperature to start growing. 

The best varieties for early maturing are: 

Vidalia: Vidalia is used for cooking and has an excellent taste.

Vidalia onions

Texas 300: Texas 300 has thick white walls, which makes it perfect for pickling. 

Texas 300 onions

The Most Profitable Onion Varieties 

There are a number of factors when it comes to choosing the most profitable onion varieties. 

One thing that you need to keep in mind is that the earlier you plant your onion seeds, the higher the profit you will make. 

The best profitable onions are: 

Red Castle: This sweet onion has excellent storage qualities and is an ideal variety for commercial farming. 

Red Castle onions

This is one of the most profitable onion varieties in Kenya. 

German White: This is a popular variety that grows well in Kenya, has excellent storage qualities, and is perfect for pickling. 

German White onions

Black Spanish: This is a tasty variety that produces large bulbs. It has a good flavor and is one of the most profitable onion types. 

Black Spanish onions

Yellow Spanish: This is a yellow onion with good storage quality. It is another good variety for growing in Kenya. 

Yellow Spanish onions

Methods Of Planting Onion

There are a variety of ways to plant and cultivate onions in Kenya. Grow your onions in rows or groups.

By growing them in rows or planting them in groups, you can increase the number of nutrients and water available to the plants and better support their growth.

How To Care For Onion Plants

Growing onions is a fun hobby, but it requires a lot of care. You need to take care of the plants in three critical areas: – 

Watering – You can easily kill your onion plants if you don’t water them properly. We recommend you water your plants when the soil is almost dry and the leaves droop. 

Fertilizing – Fertilizing is essential for all types of vegetables and can be done through organic fertilizers or blends.  

Caring for the pests – You can grow onions in almost all places, but there are certain places where it is not advisable to do so. 

We recommend you grow your onions in an area that is away from your house as there are certain pests that can easily damage your plants. 

You can prevent pests from harming your plants by regularly spraying your tomatoes.

Common Onion Diseases

One of the most common diseases that affect onions is the black rot that causes black rot in onions. 

You can control this disease by spraying the affected area regularly with neem oil. 

You can also grow your onions in a lined greenhouse, which helps prevent diseases from getting into your plants. 

The other common disease that affects onions is white rot. This disease can be controlled by planting your onions in raised beds. 

The final common onion disease is the onion yellows. This disease can be controlled by planting your onions in raised beds.

Tools And Equipment For Onion Farming In Kenya

You will need a few tools to successfully set up an onion farming business in Kenya. 

Here are some of the essential ones you will need: 

Calculation table – This table will be your essential onion growing guide. 

Use it to calculate the cost of your crops, the number of boxes you will need for growth, and how many onions you will harvest per box. 

Growing shelf – You can also grow your own onions on a growing shelf. 

Growing onions on a growing shelf allow you to easily harvest and replant your onions. 

Onion seeds – You can either buy fresh onion seeds or store them in your freezer. 

While storing fresh onions in the freezer will keep them fresh for a longer period, freezing them will ruin the quality.  

Potting soil – Potting soil is what you use to grow your onions. There are many potting soil brands on the market, but we recommend you buy an organic one.

Onion Farming Business Opportunities In Kenya 

There are many business opportunities in the onion farming industry in Kenya. 

The most common business opportunity in the onion farming industry is selling onions. 

You can either sell fresh onions at markets or sell onions in packets after a certain period of storage. 

You can also grow onion seeds and sell them to other onion farmers as an additional business opportunity. 

Another business opportunity in the onion farming industry is onion processing. 

You can process onions at factories and make products like onion jam, onion pickles, onion sauces, and onion oil. 

Benefits Of Having Of Farming Onion In Kenya

Having a successful onion farm is a great way to make money. Onions are sold at the peak of their season, and they are sold in large quantities. 

Depending on the season, they can sell for $1, $2, or even $5 a piece. When you sell onions, you can take them home anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 per season. 

This means that you can earn a hefty amount of money from just one crop. 

Challenges Of Onion Farming In Kenya

The main challenge of onion farming is the high initial investment it requires. 

You will need to buy a huge amount of tools and build a few structures to set up an onion farm. 

This can be quite a big investment, so it is important to be careful while investing. 

You can start a small-scale onion farming business, but it is better to have a backup plan, in case the amount of profit you make is not enough to cover the total cost of setting up an onion farm. 

Another challenge of onion farming in Kenya is the time required to harvest the onions. On average, it takes around 6 months to harvest the onions.

Harvesting Tips – When And How 

The best time to harvest onions is from late October to February when the temperature is at least 15°C. 

The best way to harvest onions is by using an all-purpose plow and digging the soil, which helps you take the full length of the root. 

You can also use a harrow or disc harrow to break the soil and create good conditions for the onion seeds to grow. 

You can also use a soil augur to make sure that you take the full length of the onions in a single plow. 

The final harvesting tip is to check the soil for any leftover traces of fertilizers. 

How To Store Onions 

When harvesting onions, you will need to remove the roots from the plant. 

If you are storing them in bags, leave the roots in the soil, as they will help to grow new onions. 

It is important to keep your onions away from sunlight, moisture, and pests. The best way to store onions is in a dark, dry place. 

You can also buy onion packs that help you preserve the quality and flavor of your onions. 

There are many methods to store onions, but the cheapest and most reliable method is to use onion packs. 

Onion packs are made from 100% natural materials and help your onions stay fresh for longer. 

You can find onion packs at most grocery stores or online. 

Final Thoughts On Onion Farming In Kenya

Onions are an important part of the everyday diet and a great way to get your family back on track when it comes to healthy eating. 

They are also a great source of dietary iron. If you are new to growing onions, it is highly recommended that you start with a smaller variety so you can get a feel of how your soil reacts to different types of plants. 

If you are interested in growing more than just a few heads of onions, it is best to consider investing in an equipment rental program. 

A great way to get started is to choose the best type of onion varieties in Kenya. An ideal growing season for growing onions in Kenya is between May and September. 

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