March 29, 2023

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Ghana’s onion imports hit GHc520m

It has emerged that Ghana is making multi-million contributions to the cultivation of onion in neighbouring West African countries.

Research by the Ghana Agricultural Producers and Traders Organization (GAPTO), the umbrella body of agricultural traders, at two markets in Accra and Kumasi in the Ashanti Region says that Ghana imported one hundred and twenty million dollars (or GHc524 million at current exchange rate) worth of onions in 2010 and 2011.

The researchers have not been able to update the figures for the subsequent six years but it is believed that the figures could be several times more today [in 2017].

The impact of this is that tons of onions are transported by road along the West African corridors to the Agbogbloshie Onion Market in Accra on daily basis to the detriment of locally produced onions in the country.

It is known that the desire of many Ghanaians for the foreign onion, particularly from neighbouring Niger, is on the rise because many Ghanaian women see the locally grown onions to be hard on their eyes when being sliced for cooking.

Among other things, many of the women claim that it is time consuming when cooking with the locally grown onions (shallots) as compared to the imported ones.

Some women have told Business Day that the locally grown onions are expensive and hard to find on the market unlike the imported ones, claiming those are everywhere. In 2012, a report by the Ghana News Agency had it that the country lost five millions dollars annually from the importation of onions from only Niger.

During Business Day’s investigations at Accra’s fastest growing onion market in Agbogbloshie, Awal Alhassan, an onion dealer at Phobia Onions shed, who has a decade of experience in the sector, said Ghana does not have onions like the ones imported from Niger.

“Our onions are not good as compared to theones imported from Niger; so, Ghanaians prefer Nigerien onions.”

Niger’s onion are different. It’s very sweet, yellowish in colour. According to Osman Mohammed, Secretary to the Accra Onion Sellers and Porters Co-operative Society, the trade was started by their grandfathers who imported the onions from Niger in baskets before it was transformed into bags. He said the business is growing faster and Ghanaians have grown to like the imported Nigerien onions.

“Every Ghanaian who does business with onions knows the ‘Galemi’ onions in spite of the fact that onions have over the years been imported from Nigeria, among others.”

He peculiar thing is that the onion business has been a family business run by a group of family people who travelled to Niger to bring the commodity. But in recent times, some people with wealth have invaded the industry and are chartering heavy duty trucks to cart huge tons of the commodity into the country.

He suggested that for Ghana to reduce the importation of onions, farmers here should have more plantations, learn how the Nigeriens did it and as well implement it here so as to also help reduce the high cost of importing onions into the country.

Ghanaians prefer Niger onion

An earlier visit by to the onion market at Agbogbloshie revealed that, Ghanaians prefer imported onions, especially onions from Niger as compared to the locally grown ones.

Mubarak Yakubu, who has been selling onions for the past five years in an interview said “honestly, in Ghana we don’t have onions like that [the foreign ones]. Our onions are not as good as the Niger ones so Ghanaians prefer Niger onions.”

The Vice Chairman of the Greater Accra Onion Importers and Sellers Association, said “Most people like onion from Niger because it’s different. It’s very sweet, yellowish in color. It’s very big and we buy it with foreign currency”.


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