Meet Gikunda Meme. 16 years ago he was a credit manager at a local bank. The 66 years old owns Subuiga Hilltop Farm which sits on five acres piece of land. Farmers Trend tells his success story as an onion farmer after he left formal employment
After realisng he could get more from farming when he compared his job that time and farming, the former banker opted for an early retirement in 2003 and ventured into farming.
“Having been in employment for many years, I decided to quit my job, in search of a greener pasture. With Sh2.7 million which was a combination of my savings and severance, I started by growing French beans at a farm situated on the Nanyuki-Isiolo road in Meru County. Unfortunately, this venture did not pick up which made me to try other crops with onions taking the lead,” he begins his story.
His turing to onions was informed by the fact that with onions, after three to four months, a regular and dedicated farmer can earn handsome returns compared to other crop varieties that take longer to mature and between May and December, the demand for onions is high.
“I have since mastered the seasons that he should plant the crops in order to maximise profit. I sell a kilogramme of onions at Sh80 when demand has peaked and between Sh40 and Sh50 when the demand go goes down simply because of excessive onion production flooding the market.
Meme explains that onions are generally long-day plants, which means they need days with more than 12 hours of daylight. Therefore, only varieties with lower day-length needs can be grown in Kenya.
Popular varieties, which are available at companies such as Monsato and Simlaw Seeds are Jambar F1 (for size and high yield) or Red Passion F1, Bombay Red and Red Pinoy (they have a lower yield but are in high demand at the market and fetch a higher price than Jambar F1).