Nigeria is one of the largest producers of onion in the world with about 2 million metric tonnes being produced annually. It is produced in the country's northern region in states like Zamfara, Sokoto, Borno, Kebbi, Jigawa, and Katsina state. Despite the high volume of onion production in Nigeria, the onion market experiences about 40-50% loss due to poor storage facilities. The storage facilities used by SHFs are locally made silos which are built to accommodate the storage of onions for about 6-10 months. Most silos are able to preserve the onions but the losses are still prevalent.
Although onion is consumed all year round in Nigeria and many regions of the world, it is planted in the dry season i.e. between November and January to cater for all year round supply; however, due to the poor storage facilities, the prices of onion increases as demand increases and usually a scarcity ensues especially between October and December during the rainy season.
2SCALE encourages the inclusion of women and youth at all levels of partnership activities and for this reason, it collaborates with business champions (BCs) and business support services (BSS) to implement activities along a value chain. The BSS carries out the majority of the field activities in clusters and the use of organized groups is a determining factor in the success or failure of a partnership.
Reducing losses in the onion value chain
While efforts are being made to reduce post-harvest losses, 2SCALE is partnering with Tay’s Food Limited (TFL) a private agro company in Nigeria handling storage and preservation of onion for improved food quality and security all year round across the country. To reduce wastage by 50%, TFL's integrated solution supports smallholder farmers to set up local storage facilities. TFL’s vision is to play a major role in Nigeria’s onion value chain by setting up a high-class (500 ton) storage facility in Sokoto State. They thus signed a memorandum of understanding with 2SCALE in 2018 to test its business model of improving productivity, storing onion, and sourcing from smallholder farmers in Sokoto State for different markets in Nigeria.;/
At the end of the pilot phase, TFL and 2SCALE conducted an assessment and planned to continue the collaboration through a full-fledged partnership that is currently running.
Sokoto state mainly supplies the south, east and western parts of the country. The dynamic nature of the onion market creates a demand in various varieties, and colors, and for many large-scale agri-food processors, onion in powdered form.
In order to maximize the benefit from the significant opportunities in the onion value chains, farmers and traders store their onions in traditional granaries to resell later when the market demand increases. Unfortunately, huge losses arising from poor agricultural practices, and poor storage facility designs are commonly recorded from the harvest which accrues to more than 50%. To remedy this situation, TFL and 2SCALE implemented a pilot in 2018 with the ambition of contributing to the improvement of productivity and the reduction of post-harvest losses in the State. This pilot focused on demonstrating improved production and storage management practices to prepare farmers, traders, and extension agents to meet the demand for quality onion bulbs. To remedy this situation, 2SCALE is employing the services of the Agricultural Graduates Association of Nigeria (AGAN) youth whose activities are active in Sokoto State. They are young, agile, knowledgeable, and have the skills required to sustain the partnership when it phases out.
AGAN is an association that draws its membership from graduates of agriculture between the age of 20-45 years. The association is made up of over 100 members who are either of agriculture or other disciplines with an interest in agriculture. Presently they have over 30 available staff that oversee the implementation of the extension services provided by the organization. The aim of the association is to provide professional extensive services to farmers.
Over the period of the existence of this Association, it has contributed to food production, nutrition, improved food security, and youth employment in Nigeria through partnership programmes with rural communities in rice/rice seed production and the production of other crops and livestock which have increased yields and enhanced the livelihood of rural farmers in their communities.
Within this partnership, AGAN has been a key stakeholder in enhancing onion productivity to farmers by providing modern technology and innovations through the establishment of learning plots, training and sensitization of farmers on good agronomic practices in the onion value chain.
The achievement and successes of the association have been as a result of strategic partnerships with rural farmers and like-minded organizations.
AGAN youth group worked closely with Agroheed, the former Business Support service provider (BSS) in this partnership. Agroheed is a regional non-governmental organization that provides capacity-building and extension services to farmers. Agroheed was in charge of providing agricultural extension services through the use of technology, innovations, training, and sensitization of smallholder farmers (SHFs). Through their field activities, they have been able to implement change, and increase the knowledge, yield, and productivity of farmers along the onion value chain, a role that will now be taken up by AGAN youth.