Onions can make good profits for a farmer if grown for commercial purposes. With the right farming procedures, one can earn sh4-sh5m in a period of four months from onions on one acre, according to Silver Mutoni, a farmer in Gayaza, a Kampala neighbourhood.
Mutoni says with good seed, one can start with a quota of an acre with an investment of sh160,000 for seedlings.
Onion as a business
Ivan Kulaba, the sales manager at Dutch Seed Centre, says farmers do not need huge chunks of land to profitably earn from onion growing.
One can start with 50ft x 100ft spaces of land. Once one plants improved varieties, a farmer can get 4-5 tonnes from an acre.
Farmers should also be able to get good seeds from reliable dealers and at the same time be able to prepare a nursery bed.
Make sure in the nursery bed seeds are not overpopulated to avoid getting thin seedlings.
The farmer should also be in position to do soil analysis so as to know how much soil compositions are in the soil before planting.
During transplanting, a farmer needs diammonium phosphate and then top dress with calcium, ammonium and nitrogen fertiliders.
Kulaba says onions survive well in sandy loam soils since such soils do not compact; however a farmer can improve on the soils with manure.
- Things to avoid in commercial onion production
- Avoid using hoes during harvest to avoid damaging the bulbs.
- Avoid sun drying the onions
- Avoid picking seeds from unreliable sources.
- A farmer must make sure he/she knows how to control pests and diseases from the garden.
- The farmer should also know the fertiliser composition.
- The farmer must have the right source of water.
- Avoid harvesting the onions when they are too wet to avoid rotting of the builds.
Harvesting and post-harvest handling
One can tell that the onion garden is ready for harvesting after having about 70% of the crop leaves fall back.
After harvesting make sure onions are put in a well ventilated place which does not permit a lot of water in.
Harvesting is done through hand pulling.
After harvesting, dry the onions at room temperature.
A well-dried onion takes about four to five months when they are still fresh.