•Ogongo has a degree in horticulture from Egerton University and has previously worked with several flower and tobacco firms
Valentine Ogongo ran for the Suna West Parliamentary seat in Migori county and lost.
He was then appointed the county executive for Agriculture.
Today, he is a farmer supplying much of the onions to to markets as far as Nairobi.
“I just sold off the last batch of 15 tonnes of onions to Twiga Foods from three quarters of an acre farm which gave me Sh200,000‚” he said.
Ogongo said the amount came after only three months which is the time it takes for onions to mature. He said the returns are good. With three planting seasons in a year, he is assured of at least Sh1 million, he said.
Ogongo said his decision to venture into farming was also based on imports from Tanzania and the ready market from Twiga Foods.
“With a ready market, any onions not taken by Twiga Foods where I have a contract are mopped up by local markets at Sh50-80 a kilo," he said.
He often packs his produce in nets of 10 kilos.
Ogongo said larger bulbs are favoured in hotels and institutions which don’t offer mass market as most women like onions they can use once in homes.
“There are two types of onions, the leafy and bulb with the later being more preferred by the market. I plant the red couch F1 variety because it has medium bulbs and is what the market likes,” he said
The farmer said he first raises seedlings in a nursery. About a kilo of seeds will be needed for an acre of land.
“I place seeds a centimetre deep and 15 centimetres apart and irrigate twice a day. After about a week they germinate, I spray confidor, and insecticide against termites and thrips which are insect that suck onions before mulching‚” he said
Ogogo said with this smaller distance between crops and how delicate onions are, weeding cannot be done using jembes, so herbicides are used and more confidor sprayed.
When transplanted, onion are placed 10 centimetres apart as any further distance will give bigger bulbs, while between the rows the distance is 60 centimetres
To further prevent using more chemicals only patches or crops affected by only three diseases affecting onions: purple blotch, rust and neck rot are sprayed instead of the whole farm.
Once mature, the onions are harvested and placed in a drying shed built like a greenhouse for a week for uniform drying instead of placing directly in sunlight
“The greenhouse should be raised from the ground, portioned in rows and shelves where onions dry before being stored and sold off,” he said
Ogogo who has a degree in horticulture from Egerton University, worked with several flower and tobacco firms in the country before taking up farming.
He said his current 15-acre farm, was bought in piece meal after taking up farming which have been turning up profit.
“To install drip irrigation for an acre of land which includes the tanks, water pumps and pipes it costs about Sh200,000 which is a one off investment with sure returns,” he said
Onions are high in vitamin C with high concentration of quercetin which is a flavonoid antioxidant which helps decrease heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure.
Edited by Kiilu Damaris