Nigeria is among the major producers of onions in the world, recently ranking 2nd in Africa and 7th in the world.
Nigeria is yet to meet her national demand 2.44 million metric tonnes oion production and currently contribute little to the export market.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Ernest Afolabi-Umakhihe, represented by a Director in the ministry, Mrs Omotosho Marvelous, made this known in Birnin Kebbi on Friday at a workshop on adoption of good post harvest handling and Improved storage techniques for Onion production in Nigeria.
"Nigeria is among the major producers of onions in the world, recently ranked 2nd in Africa and 7th in the world.
"Inspiteof this potential, Nigeria is yet to meet her national demand of 2.44 million metric tons and currently contributes little to the export market."
"This is largely due to inadequate knowledge and skills in onion production, resulting in high post-harvest losses and poor yield and product quality, among others," she said.
"Over 40 percent of onions were lost at postharvest and storage levels.
"Though there is a slight increase in the national output from 1.4 million metric tons in 2018 to 1.52 million metric tons in 2020, about 622,084 metric tons were recorded as post-harvest losses with only 895,195 metric tons being utilized."
"The demand gap is 1.54 million metric tons amidst explosive population growth and must be bridged by the importation of onions and onion products such as onion powder and oil, among others, valued at 3.22 million dollars in 2020, which exerts enormous pressure on our foreign exchange earnings," she said.
Afolabi-Umakhihe said the training is aimed at continuing to upgrade the knowledge and technical know-how of elite farmers and relevant desk officers, among others, to reduce post-harvest losses and increase onion shelf life.
"The training of elite farmers, relevant desk officers, and detention staff, as well as subject matter specialists on the coordinated agricultural innovation approach required, will enable you to guide other farmers in the best storage protocol to achieve sustainable agricultural production for food sufficiency and the global export market," she said.
Afolabi-Umakhihe urged the trainees to take advantage of the opportunity in order to acquire the needed knowledge and skills for onward cascading to other farmers in the state.
Earlier, the Director of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Alhaji Shehu Abdullahi, said that the priority of the present administration was the state of a nation's agricultural development at any time that could be assessed as a result of the use of unlimited improved agricultural technologies to satisfy its goals and objectives.
He called on the trainees to take advantage of their presence and interact with them to build their capacity and knowledge base.
Abdullahi commended the efforts of the horticulture value chain for organizing the event, adding that it would have a positive impact in order to reduce post-harvest losses and increase farmers' returns on investment.
"It is my sincere hope that thistraining workshop will be given the seriousness and diligence it deserves. "You are, therefore, encouraged to disseminate every piece of knowledge gathered here to other colleagues who were not privileged to attend," he urged.
Speaking on behalf of the participants, the Secretary of the National Onion Producers, Processors, and Marketers Association of Nigeria (NOPPMAN), Shuaibu Isah, thanked the ministry and the federal government for organizing the training for them and assured that they would utilize what they learned for the purpose it was meant to achieve.