Fact Sheet: Making a million yearly with red onions

From an initial investment of Sh24,000 an onion farmer investing in hybrid onions like Red Passion F1 is capable of making Sh1.08million within an year. We break down for you the initial investment, the growing conditions and the returns on your investment.

The strongly aromatic bulb has a shelf life of upto 6 months which makes it a favourite among buyers.  It matures in four months and does well in warm climates. It requires fertile, well drained soils with a PH of between 6 and 7.5. Onions at bulbing stage need a substantial amount of water but excessive moisture must be avoided during growing season.
Quarter of an acre land is enough to produce upto 4,500kg of quality grade onions.

The cost of production for the onions till harvest would include the purchase of 100,000 seeds to fit in the quarter acre costing Sh4,800. Ploughing would approximately cost you Sh700 which is a one off as would furrowing which is roughly Sh500. While weeding the nursery you would require to purchase Galigan herbicide which costs Sh700.

A day's one man job for nursery establishment costs Sh250. Planting would require at least six labourers to finish it in a day which adds up to Sh1500 while nursery irrigation which should happen four times a week at Sh50 per day would total to Sh1,000.  The nursery would also require spraying with at least six sprays recommended which would cost Sh1200 at Sh200 a spray.

Six weeks after planting the second weeding is recommended which would still require 6 labourers to finish it in a day costing Sh1500. A 50kgs Minjingu organic fertilizer is recommended at this point as one of the organic fertilizers that aid in development of tubers. This costs Sh2150.

It is then followed by CAN top dressing with a 50kgs bag required which costs Sh2,200.  Fungicides and insecticides like Ridomil, Omex foliar and Agrinate are recommended to rid off the tubers from the notorious insects like Thrips, Whiteflies and Aphids. Together they cost approximately Sh4800. However plant extracts like Neem and garlic have also been used and proven effective. They are sprayed on attacked plant parts.
Citishooter Hormone which is a growth booster is also applied in the second month.

A 200 mililitre bottle is enough to cater for all the tubers and costs Sh400. Ortiva fungicide is also applied at this juncture for the stubborn fungi that might have been left. This costs Sh1500. Total spending before the onions mature is Sh23,750.

From the qaurter acre farm of Red Passion F1, one can harvest up to 4,500kg quality grade onions. A kilo of onions costs Sh60, with the total output being Sh270,000.00. This means planting the onions three times an year will give you Sh1.08million.
Harvesting can be done as from 90 after sowing. The onions are ready for harvest when the leaves collapse. The necks are twisted and its leaves bent over and left to dry for 10 to 12 days or less depending on whether conditions.

The crop is pulled out by hand and kept for some days in the field with bulbs covered with leaves. This is called windowing/curing process. Leaves are then cut off and the mature bulbs stored. Incase of
wholesale production farmers can get a ready market at Wakulima market with the current statistics indicating that the market is heavily under supplied with the highly preferred red onions. Small orders are preferred by  supermarkets and big groceries and this option gives the farmer better price per kg.

For more information on where to buy the seeds contact Simlaw Seeds on
Kijabe Street - Near Globe Cinema Round about
P.O. Box 40042,
Tel: +254 (20) 2215066 / 67 / 83
Fax: +254 (20) 316619
Mobile: 0722 - 200 545

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Compiled by Bob Koigi