There seems to be no succour yet in sight for most Nigerians hoping to see an immediate end to the hike in the price of onions. From indications, the increment may remain till 2021.
In the last few weeks, the price of onions, the most commonly used vegetable for cooking has risen by 200 per cent, and the rise has become a daily affair.
A survey at the popular Oke-Odo market showed that a bag of onions, which sells for N18, 000, is now sold for N58, 000. It was almost the same rate at the Mile 12 market, Agege, and other popular markets within and outside Lagos State. In Kano, a bag of onion sold at the rate of N14, 700 early October, currently sells for N60, 000.
Though some dealers claimed the price of onions is usually high at the last quarter of the year, especially in November and December because this is the period when farmers grow the crop, coupled with soaring demands, some farmers have hinted that the problem may stay longer than expected as the onions value-chain is challenged.
A farmer, Julian Akinremi, the CEO of Fourteen Farms, Ifeware/Ife, Osun State, told The Guardian that prices of onions may go higher or remain at the same price, but it cannot reduce till the end of December.
“I feel the price would be high till the end of the year. Farmers just started planting onions. Not just in Sokoto, but Kano and other states. Onion doesn’t like a lot of water. Hence a lot of people plant it in the dry season and they can’t harvest it this year again. So, we may have to bear with the price hike till 2021.
“The produce is both expensive and scarce. It’s expensive because it’s scarce. The flood this year affected the areas where we get onions in large quantities. Normally, when Sokoto begins to harvest onions the price drops. But this year, they were hard hit by the flood. So their harvest was low. So the quantity gotten from other farms can’t meet the demand and the area where most farmers grow it had issues with a flood, hence the price increase.”
He lamented that the flooding spoilt about 80 to 85 per cent of the crops cultivated in some states, which led to a poor harvest, forcing the market value of available crops hiked to meet the demand.
Tolulope Daramola, an onion farmer/seller, who is also founder of Menitos Farms, corroborated that the price hike might not come down till next year.
Daramola, who revealed that she had tried cultivating the purple variety of the onion at a commercial level but encountered setbacks, as it did not grow as expected, said the wet onions—the purple type is readily available in the market, but expensive. “The brown to white type is scarce so if you finally see, the prices are outrageous.
“Some of the factors responsible are flooding, which affected most of the states and the effect of the coronavirus pandemic, which made many farmers miss the planting period. The price of the onions cannot go down, not until next harvest, which is next year. The only thing Nigerians should do, especially as the yuletide beckons is to use the available onion variety in moderation.”
To avert a repeat of the current dilemma, Akinremi advised that farming communities not prone to flood should begin to cultivate onions from next year. “We have to bear with the price for the next few weeks till late January/February. We must plan for events like floods. It’s preferable to prevent the negative effect than to try to get crops we didn’t cultivate when the price hike has affected the common man.
“Also, we must learn post-harvest handling methods to help us preserve some of the perishable vegetables and fruits when they are in excess. Early in October, I sold a bag of onion for N14, 700, now I sell for N60, 000 per bag that’s minus transport from Kano to Lagos,” he said.