Due to lack of modern technology to preserve onions, its glut in various markets has become a seasonal occurrence.
This year, right from the first week of August, markets in Katsina State were flooded with onions produced by local farmers.
According to the farmers, to mitigate the shortage of cash experienced in the middle of the farming season, they plant crops like onions, which they bring to the market before the harvest of cereal crops.
Shehu Mani Mairuwa, an onion farmer, said they would find it extremely hard to meet their financial needs between July and October if not for crops like onions, garden eggs, okra, tomatoes and others.
“No matter the surplus or low market price of onions, we cannot stop producing it in the rainy season because it helps in sustaining the rural economy in a period when we have invested all we have in the farms, waiting for harvest period,” Mairuwa said.
He added that this year, the cost of production was high because they bought fertiliser at an exorbitant price of N7,500 to N8,500, unlike last year when it cost N5,800 to N6,000.
He attributed lack of modern storage facility to Federal Government’s concentration on rice production, forgetting that there are perishable crops like onions, which have the potential to sustain the economy through export.
“Onion is everybody’s food, irrespective of tribe or nationality. In addition, it has medicinal value, but the way we are left on our own in producing it is not fair. Government should look into the production of onions by intervening, especially in the provision of modern technology for its preservation,” Mairuwa added.
Findings by Daily Trust on Sunday revealed that onion farmers and dealers in Katsina rely heavily on traders from the South-South, South-East, Sokoto and Kebbi states, as well as Niger Republic, for bulk purchases.
As at last week, the price of 100kg bag of onions was between N1,800 and N3,500, depending on the quality.
Bello Salisu Danja, another farmer, suggested the need for onion farmers in the state to form a strong association like that of cotton or rice farmers, to canvass for assistance in regard to cultivation and marketing.
“In order to take onion farming to the next level, a strong association of its farmers needs to be formed, just like rice and cotton farmers.
“Our main problem is lack of reliable and modern storage facilities. Many of us rely on the old tradition of spreading the produce in an open or ventilated room; and that doesn’t do much in mitigating the excess of the produce,” Danja said.
He added that onions fetched them more profit during the dry season than the rainy season as it stays longer because it is relatively drier.