New onions have flooded various markets in Katsina State, forcing its price down by about 50%.
Our reporter, who visited markets in some parts of the state, observed that a bag of onions that sold for N6,000 and N8,000 some months ago now goes for between N2,500 and N4,000, depending on the size.
Onion farmers in the state said they are in need of modern storage facilities to address the annual market glut of the produce in the state.
Farmers in the state experience market glut almost every year, especially during the harvest of the perishable produce.
Mallam Abdulrashid Musa, an onion dealer in Funtua, said onion was mostly cultivated in Faskari, Danja, Bakori, Kafur and Dutsi local government areas of the state.
“There are pockets of onion farmers in many LGAs in the state but the main ones are in Kafur, Danja, Bakori, Faskari and Dutsi and sometimes farmers from Zamfara, Sokoto, Kaduna and Kano states also supply our markets with the produce especially at its peak period,” he said.
He explained that the bag of the produce was sold as high as between N6,000 and N8,000 last year, which probably explained why dry season farmers cultivated the produce massively, resulting in the present glut in the markets.
He said such bag now sells between N2,500 and N4,000.
Mallam Musa called on government, agricultural companies and entrepreneurs to tap into the onion value chain and supply farmers with a reliable storage facilities for the preservation of the produce.
Nura Abdullahi Mairuwa, a farmer in Faskari LGA, told this reporter that farmers now employ their creativity in the preservation of the produce to maximise profit.
“We are still using the age-long methods of preservation where ventilated room space carpeted with wooden particles or rice chaff is used to preserve the onions for four to eight weeks before selling. This method is risky as in some cases, large percentage of the stored produce gets rotten before the targeted selling date,’’ he explained.
Abdullahi stressed that if reliable, modern storage facilities were in place, farmers in the areas would be motivated to produce more of the produce and many entrepreneurs would cue in the onion value chain.
Another onion merchant, Suleiman Sa’idu, berated engineers, technicians and local fabricators in the state for lack of creativity to invent tools and machines for agriculture.
“We need to borrow a leaf from a young engineer from Kano State, who fabricated rice milling machines, we should not just sit down and wait for government to fix everything, especially in the area of agriculture, where the more creative you are, the more revenue you generate in the commodities’ value chain,’’ he said.
He also charged youth in the state to grab the opportunities in agriculture in order to become employers of labour in the near future.
Our reporter observed that merchants from southern part of the country patronise the local markets in the state to buy onion in large quantities and transport in trucks back to their home markets.