A recent surge in the price of onions across the country has become a cause of concern amongst farmers, traders, buyers and researchers as households dig deeper into their pockets to buy one of the most commonly consumed vegetables in Nigeria.
Abayomi Olaniyan, executive director of the National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT), suggested a link between the recent price hike and factors like seasonality and a lack of storage facilities. He also noted that the institute is looking at developing onion varieties that can be planted throughout the year.
According to Olaniyan, onion is a seasonal crop, making it common this time of year for the country to experience scarcity and pricing increases for the ones that remain available on the market.
Onion is primarily grown in the northern region of the country and commercially produced in Kano, Kaduna, Jigawa, Sokoto, Plateau, Bauchi and Kebbi States. It takes an average of three months to grow any variety of the crop.
Nigeria cultivates two types of onions: bulb and spring onions. Bulb onions are much more popular in the country and come in three major varieties – red, white and green – while spring onions are mainly used in salads and fried rice.
Ahmed Musa, an onion farmer, called on the government to come to the aid of farmers producing the crop by supporting them in the areas of storage and processing, a move which would increase the product’s shelf life.
Sola Oriade, a consumer, explained, “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.