Profitable onion farming in Kenya

This is the profitable onion farming in Kenya definitive guide with all information and answers to guide you on profitable onion farming in Kenya. Be it you want to start commercial onion farming or onion farming for domestic purpose this guide is prepared specifically for you. Before venturing into onion farming in Kenya there are some of the questions you have been asking yourself we intend to answer all of these questions on this guide;

  • Areas where onion farming is done in Kenya?
  • How many kilograms of onions can one acre of land produce?
  • How to start a onion farm
  • How profitable is onion farming in Kenya
  • Onions pests and diseases in Kenya
  • What is the best fertilizer for onion farming?
  • Which is the best month for growing onions
  • How long does it take for onions to mature
  • Onions seed rate per acre in Kenya
  • What is the market for onions in Kenya
  • Onion varieties in Kenya



Onion is a tuber crop grown in Kenya mainly for commercial and domestic consuming, it is the most used spice to prepare almost every meal. The main variety of onions grown in Kenya is the red creole onion and we shall skip directly to its ecological requirements. Onions requires well drained soil with a PH of 6 to 6.8 this is always to ensure macronutrient uptake, altitude of 1900m above sea level, temperature of about 15 to 30 degrees Celsius, higher temperatures result to production of small onion bulbs and well distributed rainfall throughout the growth period 500-700mm, during maturity minimal rainfall is required.

The land to be planted to should be ploughed and harrowed so as to bring the soil to fine tilt and to avoid hardpans which may hinder the growth of onions and the tuber development, remember that onions can be grown from transplants or prepared directly from the seeds on nursery beds


To make a nursery bed for onions make sure you raise soils mixed with manure to 1metre width and to the length of your liking depending on amount of seedlings. Rows on the seed bed should be 15cm apart and seeds planted and covered with thin soil preferably 1 cm. Mulch the nursery after sowing seeds and then after 7 to 10 days remove the mulch after germination

The seed rate for onion farming in Kenya ranges from 0.8 to 1.2 kg per acre

Irrigation, thinning and weeding of the nursery continues up to 6 to 8 weeks where the seedlings can be transplanted to the farm properly harrowed free from weeds. On the land to be transplanted ensure to make trenches in rows to depth of 3cm deep and spacing between rows to be 30cm and spacing from each plant be 8 to 10cm. Fertilizer application for onions is normally decomposed farmyard manure of 10-16tonnes per acre well mixed with soil in the area where seedlings are to be planted. Seedlings are normally transplanted in the evening and when the soil is wet to ease when covering up the seedlings on trenches. Top dressing of onions can be done with CAN this is after 30 days of transplanting before onions start producing bulbs. 40kg of CAN per acre. Onions can always be intercropped with vegetables

Regular farm practices for onion farm continues

Weeding: this is the removal of unwanted plants on the area where you may have grown your onions. Weeds harm the proper growth of the onions

Monitoring: this is done by frequently checking for pest and diseases. Some pests may invest in onions making it necessary for integration of pest management practices

Watering of onions also can continue until bulging stage where you reduce amount of water


  • Purple blotch
  • Rust
  • Neck rot


  • Onion flies
  • Onion thrips
  • Leaf miners

By following the farm practices within a matter of weeks your onions should be growing vigorously and rapidly.

Onions in Kenya is usually ready for harvesting after 120 to 150 days after transplanting when 75% of your onion tops have dried and fallen now it’s ready for harvesting. Harvesting of onions is done by pulling then left on the soil for curing. Necks of onions should be allowed to dry completely this can take up to 3 weeks of curing this greatly improves shelf life for onions.

Before storage of onions sorting is important to determine the grade of onions sorting can be based on size, injuries, decay and bolted onions. Onions can then be packaged on nets or crates.


After successfully harvesting your onions you are now ready for marketing after storage in crates or nets. Onions are sold in kilograms to various market around Kenya

An acre of onions can produce up to 20 to 25 tons per acre depending on variety. This should proof how profitable is onions farming in Kenya.

There is always ready market for your onions in Kenya you can market potatoes in schools and institutions, fast food chains, hotels and open air markets.

    ‘Red Tropicana’: Red bulbing type
  • ‘Red Tropicana F1 Hybrid’. Produces large, red, thick flat onions with firm pungent flesh. It is highly productive and therefore demands high levels of management. It keeps well in dry aerated store.
  • ‘Bombay Red’. It is a variety for dry and warmer conditions. It is small to medium sized, globe shaped, purplish red and pungent.
  • ‘Yellow Granex FI Hybrid’. This is an early maturing high yielding attractive, thick flat onion with thin yellow scales. The flesh is medium firm, crisp and mild in flavor. The shape and size is uniform leading to higher market prices, and the storage quality is good.
  • ‘Texas early Grano’. This is a fresh market, early maturing variety (100 – 120 days) with a rather short shelf life. It is yellowish, mild and not very pungent. The bulbs are high top shaped with dry yellow scales. It is a heavy yielder for high altitude regions. Ideal for fish salads.
  • ‘White Creole’. This is a white variety normally used for dehydration.
  • ‘Green bunching’: Non-bulbing spring onion. It has attractive tasty dark green leaves. It is an early and highly productive onion grown for stems rather bulbs. It is tolerant to sun scotch and it is recommended for salads and fresh market.
  • ‘Red Creole’. This is a popular standard variety in high demand because of its good keeping quality. It produces mainly single onions


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