Postharvest losses of bulb onion (Allium cepa L.) in selected sub-counties of Kenya

  • C.W. Gathambiri
  • W.O. Owino
  • S. Imathiu
  • J.N. Mbaka
Keywords: Bulb onion, causes, farm level, handling practices, postharvest losses, rotting


Inappropriate postharvest practices such as unsuitable harvesting methods and inadequate curing in bulb onion lead to losses. Postharvest losses in bulb onion contribute to food and nutrition insecurity. Although Kenya has suitable environmental conditions for bulb onion production, its productivity is low, which is attributed to pre- and postharvest factors. Information on bulb onion postharvest losses and their causes in the country is scanty which limits development of postharvest losses reduction strategies. Therefore, this study was carried out in three major bulb onion growing sub-counties of Kenya namely Mt. Elgon, Buuri and Kajiado East to determine postharvest practices, causes and factors influencing postharvest losses of bulb onion. A multi-stage sampling design was used to select the study areas and a total of 166 respondents were randomly selected. Face-to-face interviews were conducted using a structured questionnaire to collect information on postharvest handling practices, postharvest loss levels and their causes at farm level. Data were subjected to descriptive and logistic regression analysis using Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS) software version 2.0. Results indicated that 68% of the respondents were males and with an average age of 40 years in the three sites. Forty eight percent of the respondents used leaves toppling, and 25% used drying of upper leaves as maturity indices. About 42% of the respondents used machete (panga) as a harvesting tool which significantly (P<0.05) influenced postharvest losses. Seventy seven percent of the respondents indicated that up to 30% postharvest losses occurred at farm level. Forty percent of the respondents indicated that bulb onion rots caused 10 % loss at farm level. The level of education, and mode of transport (bicycles and donkeys) significantly (P<0.05) influenced postharvest losses. It was concluded that the postharvest losses at farm level was 30% and were mainly caused by rotting. Socio-economic characteristics and postharvest handling practices nfluenced bulb onion losses at farm level. Development of postharvest losses reduction strategies on bulb onions focusing on alleviating rotting through appropriate postharvest handling practices at farm level was recommended.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1684-5374
print ISSN: 1684-5358