I pay my school fees from farming onions in Machakos – Success story of Ian Mutisya
Twenty-nine-year-old Ian Mutisya is bubbly as he walks on his 1.5-acre onion farm at Miwani on the outskirts of Machakos town.
He uproots two bulb onions from the soil and examines them carefully.
“I grow them under drip irrigation and they will be ready for market in three weeks,” he says, noting he spent Sh175,000 on installing the irrigation system.
Mutisya planted half a kilo of hybrid Jamba F1 seeds, which he bought at Sh23,000 from Monsanto.
“This would be my third harvest. For the first two season, I planted on a small portion and sold onions worth about Sh50,000. This is what encouraged me. I am now expecting more than Sh150,000 from the current portion.”
To grow the crop, he first starts by planting the seeds in a nursery where he mixes the soil with DAP fertiliser. Mutisya then mulches the seedbed to reduce transplanting.
The seedlings will be ready for transplanting to the main farm tilled and fertilised with manure after two months.
“After transplanting, they take another three to four months to mature but in between one must weed twice and apply NPK fertiliser,” says Mutisya, noting the land belongs to his parents.
He waters the onions four times in a week using the water he sources from a nearby borehole but gradually reduces the intervals as the crop matures.
RAISING SCHOOL FEES
He sells the onions in Machakos town where a kilo goes from Sh40 to Sh120 depending on the season.
“Prices vary depending on the supply in the market. When onions from Tanzania flood the market, prices fall to as low as Sh40 per kilo,” says Mutisya, who is expecting to harvest up to 20 tonnes this time round.
After harvesting, he normally dries the onions in the sun to reduce moisture content before he packages them in 10kg packs.
Mutisya, who holds a Masters degree in Information Technology and is currently pursuing a PhD in software engineering at the University of Nairobi, says he is enthusiastic about farming because it is financing his studies.
“I told my father to enjoy his retirement because I am raising my fees from onions. I am confident that I will do it,” says the farmer.
Joseph Masila, an agronomist with Sygenta Seeds, says onions do well in mid altitude regions with hot temperatures like Machakos.
“Downy mildew and purple blotch are two major diseases which affect onions but can be prevented by use of sprays such as Ridomin gold. Onion thrips can also be prevented through spraying 10 days after transplanting and in intervals of two weeks afterwards.”
CREDIT: Seeds Of Gold