Opinion

Onions, Now Essential Commodity in Anambra

…As Dealers, Consumers, Adduce Reasons for Price Hike

Onions, those very essential spices used in cooking most foods, are no longer affordable to everyone, no thanks to the sudden hike in their price, report Alexander Johnson Adejoh and Precious Ukeje.

Onions are among the most commonly consumed vegetable crops in the world, also widely eaten in Nigeria.

A market survey by Fides showed that the price of a bag of onions is over 300 percent against its price at the beginning of the year, 2020, when a bag sold for N16, 000.

As at last Monday, November 16, a bag of old onions was sold for N70, 000, while in some parts of Anambra, it sold for N75, 000. Also, new onions were sold for N65, 000 as against N13, 000 which they were sold earlier this year. That is about a 261.1% increase in the price.

Alexander Johnson Adejoh, Fides reporter, right, with an onion seller, Mallam Ali Abdullahi, Monday, November 16, 2020.

What accounted for the sudden rise in price? Fides crew spoke with some stakeholders like market unions, dealers and consumers, who blamed diverse factors for the hike in the price of onions.

While some blamed the increase on seasonal price fluctuation, some others blamed flooding, with yet others fingering the aftermath of the EndSARS protests.

Mr C.I.D. Anierobi, Eke Awka Chief of Staff, who blamed the high price on the increase in the pump price of fuel, noted however that the prices of some commodities such as beans and onions, increased usually between the time of this report and the yuletide period. They said the prices usually came down when there were fresh ones in the market.

Anierobi said that as a market union, they did not regulate the prices of such goods because members who were traders sold commodities as they bought them.

‘When we go to the North to buy onions, if we are 100 in number pursuing 20 bags, be sure that the farmer who put them up for sale will increase the price because there is demand.

‘Normally by this time, they sell onions N35,000 Naira per bag but our people now buy onions at N70,000 Naira per bag and above; but the price is reducing gradually,’ he explained.

For his part, Mallam Ali Abdullahi, from Sokoto State, an onions seller based in Anambra State, said the highest amount they ever bought a bag of onions was N35, 000 but after the EndSARS protest that led to the burning of over 100 supplying trucks, they now bought between N70, 000 and N75, 000.

Abdullahi said he could not ascertain if there would be reduction in the price of onions, noting that apart from destructions occasioned by the EndSARS protests, most onions farmers in the Northern part of Nigeria experienced poor harvest this year because of the heavy floods.

Fides also gathered from Adbullahi, that asides the EndSARS protests’ aftermath and low supply of the commodity by onions farmers in the North, customers from Niger, Ghana and Ivory Coast patronized the onions market in Jos and Kano. He regretted that it worsened the situation as the currencies of those countries valued more than the Naira in the market.

He lamented that Plateau State was the only state supplying good onions, adding that flood had destroyed onions from Sokoto, Kebbi and some other states. He however hoped that by the time they received a new harvest of onions by the beginning of next month, the price would drop.

Meanwhile, Fides had also observed that some traders are at loggerheads with some of their regular customers who tried to haggle the prices of onions with them. Particularly, a trader, name withheld, told one of her customers to cease patronizing her until the price of onions returned to normal.

Similarly, Helen Achike, a buyer, told Fides that she believed that the factor responsible for the hike in the price of onions was flooding which spoiled onions in farms in northern parts of the country.

Achike, a regular onions consumer, noted that it was the first time in history that a bag of onions sold for N75, 000, adding that the highest it had ever been was N50, 000 which they even complained as being high.

She believed that things would relatively normalize, even as she expressed doubt that when the price of onions dropped, it would return to the initial price.

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