By Ado Hassan, Sokoto
The National Secretary, Onion Producers and Marketers Association of Nigeria(OPMAN), Alhaji Aliyu Isah Maitasamu Samama has projected Nigeria to be a leading force in onion production on the African continent just as he disclosed that the Federal Government has committed N3.1billion to support farmers to boost production.
This, he said would only be realised by the use of modern sophistication and quality inputs.
Samama who made the disclosure at the flag off ceremony of the CBN/OPMAN Onion anchored borrowers inputs distribution programme in Sokoto said the scope of the programme intended to cover all parts of the country, has piloted with a target proportion of 10,012 farmers across 8 states.
Accordingly, Kano, Jigawa, Kaduna, Sokoto, Zamfara, Bauchi, Kebbi and Katsina states formed part of the 8 states.
He noted that Nigeria was producing below its domestic demand of 2.5 million metric tonnes” our current production capacity is at 1.4 million metric tonnes with a short fall of 1.1 million metric tonnes.
” We have to close this gap as well expand the capacity other wise, it will add to the trend of our inflation trend.”
He observed that prior to the anchore borrowers initiative, farming methods in the country were not well structured and organised as such, not yielding expected output. Now with better and organised chain and using modern farming techniques, improved and quality variety as well use of the right fertilisers and produce preservation methods through anchored borrower scheme, farmers including those of Onions have the opportunity to access a lot”, the association’s Scribe said.
According to him” we are equally working in collaboration with a number of primary stakeholder agencies and company for service and technical assistance for quality inputs as well preservation methods.”
He also said plans are under way to construct modern silos across the country for the preservation of Onion.
Samama also explained that the essence was further informed by the land borders closure directive which was aimed at reversing the trend of importation to massive domestic production through the use of modern and sophisticated means.
” Before now, we have been import dependent on Agadas, Melavil, India among others of Onion items.
” Our President want us to feed ourselves on all agricultural produce as well create jobs because we have the capacity and favourable natural gift of climate.”
He however, disclosed that the collaboration has noted the aspects of risk and loan management, stressing that ” we have evolved an insurance scheme against natural disasters that affect yields( supply of poor quality inputs especially seedlings). We are also convinced that the loans would be repaid by our farmers who are committed to the trust that will not only yield profits to them but improve our domestic economy and boost export”, he added.
The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, represented by the Head of Development Finance Office, Alhaji Farouk Abdullahi said the bank would sustain its collaboration by encouraging further support to various schemes in promoting food production and security for the economic prosperity of the country.
Also, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, represented by the state Commission of Agriculture, Muhammadu ArIka Tureta said Sokoto has been the leading Onion producing state in the country and farmers will continue to attract the support of government.
According to him” our farmers have over the years enjoyed the privilege of prompt distribution of quality and improved inputs with required supervision and monitoring .”
He disclosed that agriculture has the third highest budgetary allocation for he 2020 fiscal year given the importance of the sector to the state and nation’s economy.
Similarly, his Katsina state counterpart, Aminu Bello Masari represented by Muhammadu Taggo said agriculture remain the gate way to Nigerian’s economic prosperity while disclosing that Katsina state government has placed premium attention to the sector in building and strengthening its economy and create jobs to add value to farmers.
Taggo who is a Director of Agriculture in the state ministry for LGCA, said Governor Masari had since directed all LGs to form functional Onion farmers association with a view to boost production.
However, he said ” for this reason, our governor had since expressed interest and request for the right to host African Conference on Onion.”
Meanwhile, at the distribution of the inputs grants to the Onion farmers which consisted of fertilisers, pesticides, insecticides, sprayers and water pumping machines at N311,000 to each farmer, Musa Abu, a Nigerien Architect and Property Developer who specialised in the construction of Onion modern silos, emphasised the need for embracing modern preservation methods for Onion produce.
According to him, it can adequately support the validity of the produce for consumption.
” The silos has the capacity to exist for 150 years. The cost of construction is 300 million Sefa which is equivalent to N120 million “, he disclosed.
In attendance at the ceremony that drew participation from Togo, Burkina Faso, Niger, were the President , Regional Observatory of he Onion Sector in West and Central Africa, El-Hadji Mustapha Kadri, National President, Alhaji Shehu Maidabo Mai Albasa, Sokoto state Commissioner for Animal Health and Fisheries, Prof. Abdulkadir Junaidu, representatives of Sultan, deputy and a host of principal stakeholders in Onion farming