The Secretary, Onion Farmers Association of Nigeria, Aliyu Umar, has called for more investment in onion farming in order to cash in on its potential and opportunities.
Mr Umar made the call during the planting of high yielding onion seedlings at Tunga village in Rabba Local Government Area of Sokoto State, on Tuesday.
He suggested that Nigeria should pay more attention to agriculture, to fast track the revival of the nation’s economy.
The secretary commended the federal government on its commitment to transform the nation’s economy, through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Anchor Borrower Scheme.
He said the intervention has uplifted the standard of onion farming from subsistent to large scale.
“I want you to know that there is great potential and opportunity in the onion value chain.
“Sokoto (happens) to be the largest producer of onion. From April to August this year, we sold onions worth four billion.
“Coronavirus pandemic and recent floods that have affected investment into the onion value chain did not stop us,” he said.
Mr Umar, however, called for more investment in the onion value chain to boost the nation’s economy.
Also, the Agric Officer, Central Bank of Nigeria, Sokoto Branch, Abdullahi Farouk, said that the Central Bank’s Anchor Borrower Scheme was designed to transform agricultural potentials of the country.
Mr Farouk said the planting of new onion seeds was aimed at improving onion production among farming communities by providing them with high yielding seeds and other support.
He described agriculture as a major tool to fight poverty and provide jobs for the teaming unemployed youth in Nigeria.
“We have decided to come here, because Tunga will be the main production centre of seeds, from Kebbi to Sokoto states and even part of Niger Republic.
“We are aware that farmers come here to buy seeds, that is why we have chosen this location to breed the seed so that we can share better seeds to our farmers for better yield, and get them out of poverty” Mr Farouk said.
The CBN official noted that Sokoto State was one of the largest onion producers in Nigeria, just as Nigeria was the largest producer of onion in sub-Saharan Africa.
He added that the programme was aimed at bridging the gap between consumption and production, in order to have surplus for export.
“With this programme, we hope to bridge the gap between production of onions in Nigeria, which stands at about 1.4 million metric tons per annum.
“The consumption is 2.5 million metric tonnes per annum, so you can see that there is a gap of about 1.1 million metric tonnes and which we believe with this programme, we will be able to cover that gap and even export onions,” he added.
According to him, the market for onion is vast, as countries like Niger, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire depend on Nigeria for their supply of onions.
It is, therefore, imperative for onion farmers in Nigeria to do more to exploit the market and bring in more foreign exchange to Nigeria, Mr Farouk said.
In his remark, Danjuma Ibrahim, the Chairman of DAWI Farms, coordinating the onion component of the anchor borrower programme, called on the farmers to embrace the opportunity to raise their production.
“We are calling on our farmers who have this rare opportunity to be committed and do the needful, more so that we have been anticipating getting this high yielding seeds.
“We thank Allah that we have it now, so let’s do what is expected of us,” Mr Ibrahim said.