Onion trends in nairobi!

Red onions
There are a lot of rumours that professionals from Kieni (Nyeri County) are buying boots and returning to their motherland to venture into hybrid onion farming. Given the achievements of this business venture in this area under a project by Farm Concern International( Eastern African newspaper and Farmbiz Africa), it is worth to invest your time and money into serious bulb onion farming.

Large proportion of our food (if not like almost everything) is imported from our neighbours; Uganda and Tanzania with most of our traders confirming that they cross borders to buy food produce from them.

During the Regional Agri-Market Access Conference [RAMAC] 2014 hosted by Farm Concern International from 18th Feb 2014 to 20th Feb. 2014, one of the cereals businessmen in the panel, said he preferred going all the way to Tanzania. This is because he will buy from a centralized location and be back the following day without having to visit each farmer. This is clear-cut competition to the Kenyan farmers and how they choose to handle it determines to a greater extent their overall return on investments.

For the Kenyan onion farmers, weather conditions have favoured their trade with most of them harvesting when the Tanzanians(Kenya's main supplier of red onions) are out of season. This phenomenon has  made them to enjoy fully the benefits of their business ventures.

Bulb Onions usually takes 3 to 4 months to reach maturity and require a long dry period to ripen. That’s why the short rain period season has been good for the onion farmers so that they harvest during January to February warm period. During this period, red onions from Tanzania are in short supply in the local market and this leaves local farmers running the show. Also, following the beginning of the long rain season in March, the prices of the red onions surge benefiting those farmers who harvest in the later days of the long rain periods. 

Currently, the prices of red onions are averaging at Ksh 700 down from Ksh 750 per 15 kg net last week. Fluctuations within this period of local supply is highly dependent on market factors such as the number of lorries entering the market and also the prevailing weather conditions.    

The high Onion Supply from Tanzania resumes after the long rain season (in the last half of the year).This goes on until the last quarter of the year. By this time, Kenyan famers especially from Nyeri have limited stock following the July to August cold period. However, with the huge volumes from Tanzania, the prices fall to as low as Ksh 640 per 15 kg net making it unattractive for local farmers to trade in this commodity.

Image source(Red onions): thecookingdish.com

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