How To Start A Lucrative Onion Farming Business

How To Start A Lucrative Onion Farming Business

Onions are one of the most consumed vegetable crops in Asia and Africa, especially Nigeria. They belong to the wildly cultivated genus group called “Allium”.

In 2012, about 240,000 tons of green onions and 1,350,000 tons of dry onions were produced in Nigeria alone, excluding the rest of Africa, or the world at large. This large figure places Nigeria on the list of the top 10 largest producers of onions in the world.

With a 5.5% (4,339,925 tons) global share of green onions and 1.6% (82,815,927 tons) of the global share of dry onions in 2012 alone, the potential in onion farming in Nigeria or anywhere else in Africa continues to glow brighter with every passing year.

The ease of cultivation, widespread uses, and excellent health and financial benefits of onions makes them a top choice in the preparation of most meals in Nigeria. This high demand hasn’t just made onion farming a top agribusiness choice to venture into, but has made it a source of constant recurrent revenue for thousands of farmers in Nigeria and many other countries around the world.

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What Is Onion Farming About?

Onion farming is basically the cultivation of onions for personal or commercial use. They are cultivated in fertile soil that are well-drained, using seeds or sets. These seeds are usually short-lived, and the fresh seeds always germinate better.

The onion sets on the other hand are usually produced by sowing seeds in poor soil during the early summer, and the small onion bulbs produced towards the end of the year are harvested.


Business Opportunities In Onion Farming Around The World 

Onion Farming Business Opportunities

Onions are chopped and used as food ingredients in millions of homes worldwide. In Nigeria for instance, almost every household uses Onions as a key ingredient in their meals. These extremely high number of onion use cases opens up a million dollar opportunity for any farmer that chooses to venture into onion farming on a large scale.

On a small scale, onion farming can also be a source of food ingredients and also serve as a monthly income source to farmers around the world. Growing a sufficient quantity to sell periodically can establish a steady revenue stream for any agribusiness entrepreneur.

See Also: 5 Important Reasons To Invest In Agriculture In Nigeria Now


Benefits Of Onions

1). Great food ingredient.

2). To teach the use of a microscope for observing cell structure.

3). Moth repellant.

4). Promote hair growth.

5). Polish glass and copper-ware and to prevent rust on iron.

6). Used to increase plants resistance to pests

7). Reduce Freckling.

8). They may prevent cancer.

9). Aid in digestion.

10). Regulate blood sugar.

11). Increase sperm count.

12). Fix respiratory issues.

13). Purify the blood.

14). Improve brain function.

15). High in fiber.


The Different Onion Varieties

1). Yellow Onions: 

Fresh bulbs of yellow onions

Fresh bulbs of yellow onions

These onions usually have a yellow or brown skin, and creamy flesh. They’re generally highly flavoured, and their excellent taste makes them perfect for cooking stews, soups, meats, and other dishes. They are the most common onions used for cooking, and would be a great variety to grow in your onion farm if you want to sell what’s popular in most markets.

The yellow onions have a yellow-brown papery skin on the outside and a white flesh. Its aroma and flavour makes it the perfect all-round onion for cooking tasty meals. They are very popular in Australia.


2). Red Onions: 

Bulbs Of Red Onions

Bulbs Of Red Onions

These onions are also popularly known as Spanish onions. They have purplish red skin and white flesh tinged with red. They have a mild sweet flavour and tend to be medium to large sized. They’re usually consumed grilled, raw, added as colour to salads, or lightly cooked with other meals.

They can be cultivated throughout the year, and can be stored for 3 to 4 months at room temperature. This makes them a highly marketable product with a steady recurring revenue stream. They are very popular in Nigeria.


3). White Onions: 

Fresh bulbs of white onions

Fresh bulbs of white onions

These onions are the strongest in flavour, right after the yellow onions. They are dry onions, have a pure white skin, and a sweet mild white flesh. They usually vary in flavour, size, and skin attributes.



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How To Setup An Onion Farm

Here’s how to plant onions.

1). Climatic conditions For Onion Farming: 

Onions are usually cultivated towards the end of the year, and harvested towards the middle of the next year. They’re best grown in seasons without extreme heat or cold and can be grown at elevations of 1,400 metres to 2,000 metres under adequate rainy conditions. Their planting times are best between April and August.


2). Soil Requirements For Onion Farming: Planting Onions

Red loam to black soils and sandy loam to silty loam are preferred for onion cultivation, provided there’s a good drainage facility in place. A soil PH of 5.5 to 6.5 is preferred for better yields in a mild season. You can increase the production of onion bulbs by adding organic matter when preparing the land. 


3). Land Preparation In Onion Farming: Onion Farming Land Preparation

The land should be given 6 to 7 ploughs to make it friable. It should be weed-free and be prepared in a way that excess water can easily be drained. 25 tons of decomposed farm manure should be applied in the final plough. Furrows and ridges should also be formed on the field.


4). Seed Rate, Treatment, Sowing Season, & Sowing Method In Onion Farming: Onion Seeds

For a one hectare of land, an average seed range of 10 to 12 kg is required. You should prepare ridges and furrows or flat beds when sowing. The flat bed method is mostly preferred over the ridges & furrow method because, it can contain more plants, which subsequently leads to more yield. If you’re using the ridges & furrow method, a layout spacing of 15 cm X 10 cm should be followed. It’s also important that you plant seedlings that are 45 days old at a spacing of 10 cm apart. 


5). Irrigation: Onion Farming Irrigation System

A drip or sprinkler method should be used, based on the availability of ground water. The moist condition the onion field is maintained in is very important. When the plants are successfully transplanted, adequate irrigation should be done. The irrigation process should happen weekly, and should be stopped 15 to 20 days before they attain full maturity. This will improve their maturity. If the irrigation isn’t stopped, their maturity would be delayed. But it’s important that at the bulb forming stage, adequate irrigation should be done. 


6). Weed Control: Weed spray

To avoid your onion bulbs getting spoilt and to get a good yield from your onion farm, you need to implement a thorough weed-control system early-on. Hoeing and weeding 2 to 3 times should be enough for the crops, then earth up the poor plants after 2 to 3 irrigations. You can then mulch to conserve water and control the weed growth.


7). Harvesting: Onion harvesting

When the plants cease to produce new leaves and roots, you’d know the onion bulbs have reached full maturity. Generally, the indication of maturity in onion farming is the neck fall, and the harvesting time depends on the variety, season, condition of the crop, and the market price. In summary, the onion crops can be harvested when 50% neck fall happens.

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Challenges Of Onion Farming

The biggest challenges of onion farming are the dangers pests and diseases could pose. Some of the pests that trouble the onions are Thrips & Onion Fly, Cutworm, and Nematode. The most common disease that affects onion farming is the Leaf Spot. But it can also be controlled.



With a bag of Onions costing between 25,000 to 45,000 Naira (between the $100 range) in the market, the crop’s value continues to serve as a reliable means of lively hood for average farmers, and a lucrative business for large scale farmers. The high demand of onions by millions of households ensures the recurrent revenue potential of this agribusiness remains attractive.

While Onion farming is one out of a lot of agribusinesses you can venture into, you can also find 50 more agribusiness ideas and opportunities here.

See Also: How To Market Your Farm Products In Nigeria: 10 Ways To Get Distributors


Professional Business Plan Writing Service

Writing a bank and investor ready professional Onion Farming business plan can be challenging. If you need a professional and affordable business plan service, StartupTipsDaily’s MBA standard professional business plan writing service is perfect for your business.

All you have to do is request an understanding of your proposed business model, and you’d have a professional MBA standard business plan ready for you in anywhere from 5 to 14 days. You can click here to get started with using StartupTipsDaily’s professional business plan writing service to create the perfect business plan that’d get accepted anywhere.


What are your thoughts on this onion farming guide? Let me know by leaving a comment below.


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