Katsina farmers to harvest torrent of onions this year

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Katsina farmers have dived into the cultivation of onion due to unexpected profit it generated last year, and with high expectation of more surplus harvest this year.

Speaking to newsmen, a farmer in Katsina, Malam Usman Zakari, said “You know most times we concentrate on the cultivation of crops that give farmers more profit in the previous year, and onion is one of such crops last year and that is why you see it everywhere in this area in Danja.”

Although, Nigeria’s agriculture is still vastly in the hands of smallholder farmers, poor rural farmers cultivate onion on a small scale which they harvest in the month of August to assuage their shortage of cash. But more could be done to enhance productive levels of these farmers; as their major constraint according to Usman was lack of effective means to tame the possibility of market glut of the produce in the next three weeks.

Another farmer, Malam Salisu Ibrahim Tandama, revealed that a farm that gave 10 bags of maize can produce not less than 30 bags of onion, but, lack of modern storage facilities has remained the bane of onion farmers in the state.

“We are still storing our onion in ventilated rooms in our homes and that involves a lot of tasks of sorting the produce daily to remove the rotten ones. I believe that procurement of modern storage facility would be a major breakthrough in the onion value chain as it will boost its cultivation and export, especially now that agriculture is fast becoming the mainstay of our economy,’’ he said.

Onion price, according to Tandama, varies with its grade or quality as it now cost averagely N7,000 to N9,000 a bag, and at its peak, it can cost up to N13,000 while during its glut, the price would not be any better than N4,000 a bag.

Thanks to the Presidential Initiative which boosts the produce mass production this year by providing availability of fertilisers to farmers at affordable price, as the crop requires both organic and manure, Salisu acknowledged.

However, onion dealers in Funtua, buttressed that unlike in the past when farmers waited for buyers, they have now devised means of transporting the produce to far cities like Warri, Benin, Lagos and Umuahia, where they are sold at good prices.
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