Budget, seed variety key to onion farming

An onion demonstration plot at Wambugu Agricultural Training farm in Nyeri

An onion demonstration plot at Wambugu Agricultural Training farm in Nyeri on November 17. An onion farmer needs working capital.

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

Last week, we discussed the advantages of onion farming compared to courgettes.
Farmer Desmond, who I will take through the production of onions, chose the crop over the squash.

This week, we went through a checklist of what he needs to consider and do before growing the crop. 
These are the type of seeds, labour, water, the general cost of production and the market.
There are many companies that sell seeds, which have different characteristics and yield potential. Some of the onion seeds are hybrids.

When selecting the variety to plant, the farmer should look for seeds that are pest and disease-resistant, high-yielding and adaptable to the local environment.
As is the case with other crops, water is a significant aspect of onion production. Ensure you have a reliable source of water throughout the production period. The source could be a borehole, well, river or rain. 

The water should be clean and suitable for crop production.
The method of irrigation a farmer chooses depends on the availability of water, the cost and the topography of the land.

Desmond, has a borehole on his farm that has adequate water to sustain onion production. 
The capacity of the borehole is measured depending on the amount of water pumped out per hour.
Farming is a business that requires proper planning, especially for the costs to be incurred, hence the need to have a budget. 

The budget should indicate all the anticipated expenses. 
These include the cost of seeds, labour, land preparation, crop protection and nutrition products.

Problem-solving

In addition, a farmer requires a diverse set of skills to perform his or her daily activities efficiently and successfully. 
These include the ability to make decisions, solve problems, manage the farm and keep things organised. 

In production, it is also important to have technical skills such as crop protection techniques.
Being new to onion farming, Desmond will enrol for a short course in farm management.
The link between employee performance and farm profitability is direct and obvious, hence the need to invest in skilled labour. 

Get a person who has the skills and knowledge necessary for crop production.
A skilled farm manager will assist in making important decisions, saving the farm owner from losses through the wrong use of pesticides, for instance. 

Since onions are labour-intensive, especially during planting, one will need to outsource casual labourers who must be guided by the farm manager.
The farmer also needs working capital during onion production. 

This is the money required to buy seeds, prepare the land and pay employees’ wages. 
Have the plan to ensure you have a ready market by the end of the production cycle.
We shall look at Desmond’s onion crop budget in our next article.

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