LAGOS – Poor storage facilities, high cost of inputs and seasonality have been identified as the main reasons why prices of onion has been on the high side across the country at this time.
Onion, which is one of the most commonly consumed vegetable, is majorly grown in the northern region of the country.
States such as Kano, Kaduna, Jigawa, Sokoto, Plateau, Bauchi and Kebbi grow onion in large quantity.
According to farmers who cultivate the crop, it takes an average of three months to grow any variety of onions. Nigeria grows the two major types of onions – bulb and spring.
The bulb onion is much more popular in the country and has three major varieties, red, white, and green, while the spring onion is mainly used for salads and fried rice.
It offers excellent health benefits and a lucrative venture for any aspiring farmer.
Report has it that regular consumption of onions helps to reduce the risk of cancers and lower blood sugar levels, as it contains allyl propyl disulfide that helps to reduce the glucose level by increasing the amount of insulin as well as aid digestion.
A visit to Mile 12 market in Lagos during the week shows that 100kg bag of onion which used to be N30,000 before now is now been sold for N80,000.
Consumers and onion traders are seen lamenting the spate of the hike in the prices of onions.
Dr. Abayomi Olaniyan, Executive Director of the National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT), said onion is a seasonal crop and that this is mostly the time of the year that the country experience scarcity and increase in the prices of the ones that are available in the market.
He said that it is the weather in the north that favours the production of onion most, that the varieties that can grow in the south is scarce.
“The production period is over so it is the leftover that are in circulation now, that is why the prices is been hiked.
Olaniyan also said that it is very difficult to store even after harvesting.
He said storage is a major challenge that there are various methods of storing other crops but storing onion is problematic.
He said the institute is looking at developing varieties of onion that can be planted throughout the year, instead of the variety that can only survive during one season.
Ahmed Musa, an onion farmer lamented that inadequate storage facilities is a big challenge which accounted for a huge post-harvest losses.
He said that onion is not cultivated all year round due to poor storage facilities.
Musa thereby called on the governments to come to the aid of farmers producing the crop by supporting them in the area of storage and processing to increase the shelf life of the crop.
Another farmer Danjuma Abubakar said that prices of inputs have increased tremendously and logistic costs in transporting the crops from the Northern parts of the country to the south, where the market is located have also increased.
He added that the combination of all these factors is responsible for the increase in prices of the crop.
However consumers also lamented the rate at which the price of onion is skyrocketing this days, as they said that they can no longer use onion as they used to when there is no scarcity.
Sola Oriade, a consumer said: “We are finding it very difficult to buy onions nowadays because of the prices which has gone up. The onion we used to buy for N100 before now is now been sold for N500.
“It has always been like this every year, one would have expected the government to come to the aid of these farmers to ensure that they plant this crop all year round,” she said