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Lucrative onion trade in Nigerian market

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By Mercy Kelani

N300 billion worth of the commodity is lost to post-harvest losses annually.

Currently, Nigeria ranks the third largest producer of onions in Africa, with a total annual production of two million metric tonnes — equivalent to N700 billion. However, about N300 billion worth of this vegetable is lost to post-harvest losses, every year, which is majorly as a result of ineffective processing plants and lack of modern storage facilities. This statement was made by the national president of National Onion Producers Processors Marketers Association of Nigeria (NOPPMAN), Aliyu Maitasamu.

NOPPMAN’s president stated that the lack of processing factories has caused the country to stick to importation of onion flakes. According to him, this act was at the disadvantage of farmers and traders who only have the capability to process about 40 percent of total production. Output potentials are continually limited due to inadequate storage facilities. He noted that the current amount of onions produced in the country is insufficient to meet the demands of citizens. Hence, there is a need for increased production to meet the 2.5 million metric tonnes needed for local consumption.

The vegetable is capable of reducing heart disease risk.

Across the world, the onion is regarded as one of the most consumed vegetables. In Nigeria, it is extensively grown majorly in the Northern regions of the country — Kaduna, Jigawa, Bauchi, Kano, Sokoto, Plateau and Kebbi — as a dry season vegetable through irrigation. The favorable climate in the region helps the growth of the staple crop. Although there are different varieties of onions, the most popular ones cultivated in Nigeria are the red and white onions. The red one is the most commonly seen and widely grown across the country.

Besides its admirable commercial value and its high local demand, the staple crop has many health benefits. According to an online medical information site,, onion is a good source of Vitamin C and B6, manganese, potassium and fiber. It also contains antioxidants and compounds that help fight against inflammation, while decreasing triglycerides and reducing cholesterol levels. These health functions are effective to lowering the risk of heart disease. Therefore, there is an increasing demand for the vegetable in major markets across Nigeria.

Farmers lack adequate knowledge and facilities to manage the produce.

Analysis by EastFruit, a recognized information and analytics platform in the vegetable and horticulture sectors, affirmed that onions is the most sought-after in the global vegetable trade. Statistics received from Observatory of Economic Complex (OEC) disclosed that onions had an estimated global trade of $7.53 billion in 2021. Also, export of the bulb-shaped vegetable increased between 2020 and 2021 by 0.95 percent, from $7.46 billion to $7.53 billion. This increase was said to have been driven by an increased demand for the vegetable.

Despite the huge revenue potential of the staple crop for the country’s import and export market, its post-harvest practices which do not properly execute grading of the commodity and management of stored produce has caused huge losses for Nigerian traders, farmers and stakeholders in the value chain. Inefficient management practices, lack of information on adequate formulation of fertilizer and other shortages in the knowledge of farmers have been said to be the cause of reduced quality and yield of the commodity.

An indigenous processing plant to reduce post harvest losses.

As a means of putting an end to these losses, the Sokoto State Government recently launched the first indigenous processing plant for onion and garlic. The NOPPMAN president, speaking at the commissioning of the plant, highlighted that the plant is the first of its kind in the country and is aimed at reducing post harvest losses onion and garlic farmers in Sokoto and other Northwest states where these commodities are grown in commercial quantities. He also assured that farmers in Sokoto and its immediate locations will greatly benefit from the new processing plant.

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