For about four weeks now, residents of Ilorin kwara state, Nigeria’s capital and surrounding communities have continued to lament the significant increase in the price of an Onion bulb in major markets within the metropolis.
Some of the residents which include house wives, bachelor, spinsters, food vendors, traders, operators of restaurants and catering services say the price of the commodity (Onion) have increased, compared to a few weeks back.
A bachelor who gave his name simply as Adekunle, described onions as the new gold, saying that it was unbelievable that the price of an Onion bulb; which he considered to be an essential ingredient for making pepper stew and also cooking beans has now skyrocketed in price.
“As a bachelor, I cook the little pepper stew I can eat, it is unfortunate that the price of the commodity (onion)has gone up, now my customer sells just two small onion bulbs for me at the rate of fifty naira unlike previous times when I got more bulbs” Adekunle said.
Popularly used for cooking around the world, the onion bulb is among the most significant sources of antioxidants in the human diet, according to a 2002 report in the journal Phytotherapy Research. The high levels of antioxidants give onions their distinctive sweetness and aroma.
Mrs Bukunmi Ajala who runs one of the fast-growing catering service in Ilorin, kwara state capital lamented recent developments saying “we used to buy a bag of union between six thousand naira to seven thousand naira before now, you will be shocked to know that this same bag now goes for between fifty five thousand naira to sixty five thousand naira”. Asked about possible reasons for the hike, Ajala shared that she was was told by reliable sources, that “crops have been damaged up north due to rainfall and flood hence the insufficient supply of onions”.
Further reflecting the rising pattern and standard of living, Nigeria’s inflation continued its upward trend in October, rising to 14.23 percent, 0.52 percentage points higher than the 13.71 percent recorded in September.
According to the latest data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Monday, 16 November .2020, the core food index rose by 17.38 percent and was majorly driven by increases in food items.
Core inflation also maintained a steady rise to 11.14 percent, from the 10.58 percent reported in August this year.
To investigate other possible the reasons for this significant increase in the price of onions, the writer visited some major markets including Mandate market, Oja-tuntun and Oja-Oba all in Ilorin, Kwara state capital for a market survey.
Alhaji Yahaya Alhazir who hails from Kebbi state, says he has been in the business of trading in onions for about two decades; during this interview said most of his contemporaries have now resorted to selling other commodities (Tomatoes, carrots) to commodities sold. He also shared how some others have decided to stop buying and selling the commodity (Onions) to their customers for now.
According to Yahaya, “presently we sell a bag of onion between the prices of fifty-five to sixty-five thousand naira depending on the size, but before now we used to sell the same bag between six to seven thousand naira, later, process were increased from ten to fifteen thousand naira per bag”.
Yahaya continued, “It is because of the rainfall and flood up north and onion farmers are suffering severe loss due to damaged crops in the field and warehouses”.
Bello Musa, chairman of the Onion traders at Mandate market, Ilorin who recounted how the patronage of onions has reduced said “Flooded farm lands up north where onions are cultivated caused the reduce quantity of onions from farm to market”.
According to Musa “we buy a bag of onion in the north for about forty-five to fifty thousand naira and we transport each onion bag at the rate of one thousand two hundred to two thousand naira and we sell between fifty-five to sixty- five thousand naira per bag”.
When asked if the government can step in to salvage the situation, Musa said “there is nothing that the government can do at the moment since the demand of onion is far more than the supply already, hopefully next harvest will supersede the demands and onions can be surplus again”.
Abdullahi Bello who has also been trading in onions in the last decade at Oja-tuntun market corroborated the narrations of other onion traders but said the increased transport fare from the northern part of the country as well as the recent #Endsars protest was not a factor to the increment in onion price across the metropolis.
Bamise Dada is a journalist covering community development, with a focus on health, agriculture and climate change as it affect rural communities in the north central part of Nigeria. He can be contacted on @bamise951 or firstname.lastname@example.org