By Victor Christopher
Looking at Aliyu Muhammadu Inuwa’s onion farm in Magami community situated in Dawakin Kudu local government area in Kano State from a high vantage point and seeing its beauty gives a glimpse of why he opted for onion farming for about five decades now.
Even though, he has been recording bumper harvest, he believes he can do better with government’s support if the latter could accord adequate attention being given to other farm produce to onions.
“Two years ago i harvested about 300 bags of onion. This year i am expecting about 100 bags because of the production cost. If government will support us with farm input we will produce more onion and generate revenue”, he said.
Being the onions planting season during harmattan, Alhaji Saleh Umar was already planting his setts when our Correspondent visited his farm this week.
Alhaji Saleh harvested over 83 bags of onion last year, but he also believes that with the support of government, onion farmers in Kano and Jigawa can supply onion to the entire West African countries.
“I cultivated 84 bags of onion last year, i can cultivate more than 2000 bags if government support me. Right now, we are facing cost of production.
What we need now is government to focus on Agriculture. We want government to support us with new farming techniques. If government empower us, only Kano and Jigawa can supply West African countries with enough onions”.
Nigeria is the second onion producing country in Africa after Egypt with over 14 million bags of onion annually, while Kano alone harvests over 4 million bags of onion every year. But despite this achievement, onion farmers are challenged with modern facilities for preservation and processing.
The National President of Onion Producers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria NOPPMAN, Aliyu Isah Maitasamu expresses sadness that the onion farmers are yet to benefit from Government’s intervention, hence calling for adequate support.
“We are producing 1.4 million metric tones of onion, that is about 14 million bags. But there is no improve storage to facility to preserve it. We are been left to sort things out ourselves. So we are calling on our government, we are calling on all the stakeholders, we are calling the media to help us advocate”.
Aside the use of fresh onions for domestic cooking, it could be processed for onion paste, dehydrated onion flakes, onion powder, onion oil, onion vinegar, onion sauce, pickled onion, onion wine, beverages and more.
Commenting, an Agriculturist with Bayero University Kano, Dr. Abdulwahab Salihu Shu’iabu says harnessing the onion potential could ease the much agitated process of economy diversification.
“If we are to move towards that direction of diversifying to onions production we need to develop good varieties that have good storage life and the quality is also good.
We have few people that are into the production of seeds so if our local farmers will be train on how to produce the seeds of onion then such farmers can supply their neighbouring communities.
This is achievable and doable”, he adds.
When contacted, the Managing Director, Kano State Agricultural Development Authority KNARDA, Dr. Junaidu Yakubu Muhammad says the State Government has concluded plans to key into onion farming through its Agro Pastoral Development Project.
“We selected about 14 local governments in the State that we are going to support. Inshallah we are going to support the farmers on how to improve their onion productivities.
Dr. Junaidu further said the State government will also train farmers on how to process and market Agricultural Produce”.
Dr. Junaidu further reveals that the State Government is collaborating with foreign investors in France to establish onion processing factories in the state.
“We already have investors from France and in the future we will start processing onion here instead of taking it out and bring it back for consumption”.
Again, this promise sounds nice, but only time will tell whether its implementation is realistic!
Christopher, a journalist writes from Kano