News and knowhow for farmers

How market research helps farm sell its produce at good prices all seasons

red sanga F1 onion variety
Share on social media

A farm at Ndeiya in Kikuyu, Kiambu County has learnt the art of market research for its produce. This has enabled it sell a kilo of red onions, which is one of its produce at a minimum of Sh50 all season at a time other farmers sell the same produce the same measure at Sh30 per kilo.

According to Lucy Wangare Veteran Farm manager and agronomist, the farm’s market research include market demand, local and regional production conditions, the business environment, interests of farmers and traders, and ability to access business support services.

“Depending on our scale of the investment, market studies entails scope and levels of analysis to the supply chain actors and identifying specific products and customer segments,” said Wangare.

In order to understand onion production trends in the neighbouring countries, Wangare has build contacts with traders and farmers from those countries in order to plan well the farm’s production calendar in a bid to avoid glut which may lead to low price and loses.

In the recent past some Kenyan onion farmers have been complaining about onions from Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania entering Kenyan market and further affecting local market prices.

“One mistake most small scale farmers in Kenya do is not finding first where they will sell their produce upon harvesting hence most of them get stranded with their onions unaware of some good market opportunities that can offer them better pay,” said Wangari.

Also working on the farm’s advantage is its proximity to Nairobi’s CBD where there are bigger markets frequented by small traders and consumers from the city’s dwellings.

The currently 30 acre farm was used to grow maize, chilli, kales and cabbages among other crops beginning 2016 but all these changed starting 2017 in favour of red onions and garlic when the farm started adopting smart farming technology using drip irrigation among others.

According to Wangare, the two varieties of onions also have a longer shelf life of about six months and with a good storage house a farmer can have a good opportunity of looking for better markets without any fear of losing the produce to rot.

RELATED STORY: Organic fertiliser doubles onions, helps farmer penetrate new market

RELATED STORY: Production of Kales (Sukuma wiki) and Onions Using Bucket Drip Irrigation

RELATED STORY: Onions from Tanzania killing the business for Kenyan farmers

She says that around June, July they start planting seeds in nurseries and after some few weeks transplanting begins. This is done as they target market by January when onions are not flooded in the market.

“Knowing very well, red onions take about six months to mature, we always plant at every mid-year and by January, February they are ready for market. At this time we sell a kilo at as high as Sh100 as the demand is high against the low supply.”

“With all these plans in place, a farmer can easily manipulate the market and bargain for the best prices.”

Currently, the red onions occupy nine acres of the farm while garlic takes an acre but the acreage under the two crops keep increasing each season according to the market demand.

An acre can produce up to 15 tonnes and the farm sells 1-3 tonnes per week. A tonne goes at a minimum of Sh50,000 which translates to over Sh100,000 per week. The farm supplies their produce to supermarkets, schools, hospitals and high end estates within Nairobi.

“In a good season we can sell and raise enough revenue which can enable us run the farm for a whole one year after deducting the profit,” said Wangare.

She says there are plans to turn the farm into a model farm where farmers and students can be trained in crop production.

 “Plans are underway to make Veteran Farm a model farm where farmers around and agriculture students from colleges can have chance to learn horticultural crop production,” said Wangare.

The farm will hold farmers’ open day mid-September this year.

Lucy can be reached on +254 706252490

Share on social media

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top