The influx of farmers into onion cultivation this year is pointing towards a bumper harvest of the produce in Katsina State.
It has been a tradition of peasant farmers in rural areas to cultivate onion on a small scale which they harvest in the month of August to assuage their shortage of cash.
An onion farmer in Danja LGA, Malam Usman Zakari, said the mass cultivation of the produce in the state this year was partly as a result of the profits made by the farmers last year.
“You know we most times concentrate on the cultivation of crops that gave farmers more profit in the previous year, and onion is one of such crops last year and that is why you see it everywhere in this area,’’ he stated.
He added that their major constraint was lack of effective means to tame the possibility of market glut of the produce in the next three weeks.
Another farmer, Malam Salisu Ibrahim Tandama, said besides every other reason, availability of fertilizer at affordable price contributed to the mass production of the produce this year.
“The crop requires both organic and manure and this year’s availability of fertilizer through the Presidential Initiative is a booster to onion farming,” he said.
Onion price, according to Salisu Ibrahim, varies with its grade or quality as “it now cost averagely N7,000 to N9,000 a bag, and at its peak, it can cost up to N13,000 while during its glut, the price would not be any better than N4,000 a bag.”
He added that things being equal, a farm that gave 10 bags of maize can produce not less than 30 bags of onion.
He further decried how lack of modern storage facilities has remained the bane of onion farmers in the state.
“We are still storing our onion in ventilated rooms in our homes and that involves a lot of tasks of sorting the produce daily to remove the rotten ones. I believe that procurement of modern storage facility would be a major breakthrough in the onion value chain as it will boost its cultivation and export, especially now that agriculture is fast becoming the mainstay of our economy,’’ the farmer noted.
An onion dealer in Funtua, Alhassan Sani, told this reporter that unlike in the past when farmers waited for buyers, they have now devised means of transporting the produce to far away Warri, Benin, Lagos and Umuahia, where they sold at good prices.
“Onion will no longer be that too cheap as it were three years ago, now that we have discovered more markets for the produce, besides the many merchants that usually patronise our markets,’’ he said.
He called on government and agricultural companies to invest in onion farming which, he said, can be cultivated through out the year by both irrigation and rain-fed means.