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Gashua onion sellers recount ups and downs

For many residents of Gashua in Yobe State, onion trading has been one of the lucrative businesses they engage in to get an income. It…

For many residents of Gashua in Yobe State, onion trading has been one of the lucrative businesses they engage in to get an income.

It is a dependable business as it is one of the most consumed vegetables in Nigeria with substantial commercial

value.

Gashua town, located at the side of the River Yobe bank, has remained an area where residents are making money in onion business.

The inhabitants take advantage of water from the river venturing into fishing and farming of onion in large quantities.

At the market, the onion section is one of the busiest location on Tuesdays and Wednesdays when thousands of traders troop in for business.

Idris Yakubu, who has been in onion business for the past 20 years told Kanem Trust that it is one of the most profitable but with a high tendency of huge loss.

On the profit side, Yakubu said just like fuel price in the global market, the volume of onion sometimes dwindled thereby attracting significant price increase.

He said at its peak in the last four months, the price of 100kg bag of onion shot from N27,000-N30,000 to N50,000 in the markets, giving them huge profit.

“As sellers, our best time is when supply of the product is a bit scarce in the market; we make more money then because of the growing demand from customers.

“We export onion to neighbouring Cameroon, and states like Lagos, Enugu, Kano and Rivers.

“Sometimes we have about 100 trucks conveying the produce to these locations.

“You can see how busy the place is today. So from shop keepers, record keepers, labourers, drivers and other casual workers, we have over 3000 people working in this market,’’ he said.

He, however, said that when the price crashed, one 100kg bag of onion could be sold at N3,500 to N5,000 only, as is the case now.

“The price crashed because farmers from other locations brought in the produce in volumes and it is unfortunate our major consumers in Cameroon also got the product from their indigenous farmers. So whenever it is available everywhere the price goes down.

“We currently have the produce stocked at the farms, but because there are fewer buyers, we can’t bring them to the market.”

He said inspite of the challenges of dwindling price of onion, it is still the best business one could have.

Another farmer, Mallam Lawan Bulama, said the consumption of onion was always high because it is largely used in preparing African delicacies.

He said apart from its culinary values, onion bulb is also used traditionally for medicinal purposes.

Bulama also said during planting in the rainy season, hundreds of farmers from Jigawa storm Gashua for six months doing routine labour.

He noted that the major challenges they have is that unlike rice farmers, federal or state governments have not supported onion or vegetable farmers with fertilizer, seedlings or loans in Yobe.

Another challenge, he said, was that despite the vital role onion business played in creating jobs and revenue generation in the country, security agents in the area sometimes harassed farmers, especially when conveying fuel to the farm to power irrigation pumps due to the insecurity in the region.

They appealed for government’s intervention in terms of financial support and recognition from security agencies.

 

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