Onions are grown by smallholder farming in most countries. Its highly identified with traditional medicine (e.g. as a diuretic). In the tropics onions can be grown year round where irrigation is possible.


Varieties Red Creole , Red Tropicana, Bombay Red
Seed Rate 3-5kg/ha
Fertilizer Rate 200kg DAP
Planting Spacing 30×7.5cm (444 plants/ha)
Husbandry The seed is usually sown in a nursery under a mulch cover. About 6-8 weeks after sowing, when the seedling has a base as thick as a pencil and is approximately 15 cm tall, the seedlings are transplanted to the field. Do not plant onions after the field has been planted with other Allium plants (e.g. garlic). Mulching onions with composted leaves and straw is highly recommended to maintain soil organic content, prevent soil-borne diseases, and suppress weeds. Planting onions in raised beds improves drainage and prevents damping-off diseases. Weeding and harvesting are mostly done by hand, although chemical weed control is possible but not organic. Crop rotation is important to avoid the build-up of pests and diseases such as nematodes, Sclerotium and Fusarium.
Pest & Diseases Pest Name Symptoms Control
Onion thrips Silvering and withering of leaves from tips downwards Diazion Fenitrothion
Dowry mildew Leaves covered with brown downy mildews later turn brown and die Ridomil BenomylCrop rotation

Destroy crop Residue

Expected Duration from Planting to Harvesting 3-5 months
Climatic Conditions Optimum temperatures are between 13 and 24°C in temperate and 15-30°C in tropics, although the range for seedling growth is 20 and 25°C. High temperatures favour bulbing and curing. Onions can be grown on any fertile, well-drained, non-crusting soil. The optimum pH range is 6.0 to 6.8, although alkaline soils are also suitable. Onions at the bulbing stage need a substantial amount of water. Avoid application of fresh manure to enhance bulb thickening.
Harvesting Onions are ready for harvest when the leaves collapse. Alternatively the leaves can be bent over and left to dry for 10-12 days. The crop is pulled out by hand and kept for some days in the field with the bulbs covered by the leaves. The leaves are then cut off and the mature bulbs are bagged or packed in crates if they are to be stored.
Post Harvest and Storage Freshly harvested onions are dormant and will not sprout for a variable period of time. Sprouting will increase in temperatures above 4.4°C and decrease as temperatures exceed 25°C.
Growing Regions Central and western kenya
Expected yields Up to 17 ton/ha


Processing Onion are mostly consumed fresh. To produce the juice for medicinal purpose, the onions are pressed.


Place Onions are sold locally.
Price Kshs 600 – 800 per 15kg bag


Products / By Products Used for salads (bunching onion or sliced full-grown bulbs), pickling (e.g. silverskin onions), cooking (such as in soups) and frying (for example, with meat).
Nutritional value – per 100 g / % Daily Values 30 g calcium, 0.5 mg of iron, vitamin B, 0.2 mg of riboflavin, 0.3 mg nicotinamide, and 10 mg ascorbic acid (vitamin C)


White Creole is a white variety normally used for dehydration.


Income Per Hectare: Kshs 680,000 (17,000kgs * 40/-)Cost per Hectare: Kshs. 270,000 (40% of Income).

NET:    Kshs. 410,000 (60% of Income).

Break Even Yield (Where Cost=Income): = 6700 kgs per hectare.

Income Frequency: Twice per year.