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October 04, 2012

Onion glut disastrous for farmers in Niger

Onion is an important crop and source of income for farmers in Niger, where the hot, dry conditions are favourable for its cultivation. But an onion glut in the 2011 harvest season caused prices to collapse, with wide-ranging social and economic effects in a region where there are few other viable economic activities.

The collapse of Niger's economically important onion market has worsened a food and economic crisis that was already bad before.

In the Azara area of northern Niger, one of the onion sector's market advantages have been a harvest in November, weeks earlier than other onion-growing regions. But a delayed and poor rain season in 2011 meant harvest was pushed back, to the first weeks of 2012, when onion when from other areas in West Africa was also coming onto the market.

"In November, at the start of the harvest last year, the cost of a bag of onions was 15,000 CFA (23 euros), and in January of this year it fell to 1000 CFA," said an official of a humanitarian NGO.

Better cultivation techniques and more onion farmers are said to have also contributed to the glut.

African Agriculture

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