By Adedapo Adesanya
The Onion Producers and Marketers Association of Nigeria (OPMAN) have inaugurated documented onion exports through Illela land border in Sokoto State.
At the launch of the programme yesterday, the Area Controller of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Mr Abdulrahameed Ma’aji, in charge of Sokoto and Zamfara states, urged producers and marketers to utilize the opportunity for enhanced production and trading.
Mr Ma’aji commended President Muhammadu Buhari for reopening the land borders for legitimate businesses, and lauded the efforts of the Comptroller General of NCS, Mr Hameed Ali, for keeping in tune with international best practices in customs’ responsibilities.
He described onion as a commodity with vast potentials that could attract foreign investors and create employment opportunities along with enhancing value addition to consumption and industrial use.
He said the NCS worked with stipulated laws and guidelines, to enhance trade and encourage domestic entrepreneurs individuals and groups to key into exports, for national economic growth.
“Despite COVID-19 pandemic, NCS provided proactive solutions to the public that will aid continued reliable and quality service delivery for the sustenance of global trade,” Mr Ma’aji said.
Also speaking at the occasion, the National President of OPMAN, Mr Aliyu Maitasamu, said onion was an important vegetable, whose distinctive flavour and medicinal content was appreciated by people throughout the world.
Mr Maitasamu noted that there is no household that does not consume onion, as it is being used as bulbs, onion powder, and others which serve as a raw material in the production of seasoning, ketchup, noodles, onion oil, onion jam, flakes by various food industries.
He explained that onion is used in pharmaceutical products, targeting the management of obesity, heart disease and cancer, due to its high vitamins, mineral and antioxidants content.
The President said based on these benefits, the union resolved to join hands with all onion exporters across the nation and take advantage of the federal government initiative on the diversification of the nation’s economy.
According to him, no fewer than 2,000 marketers engaged in the business, thousands engaged in its farming and other associated businesses, had been mobilised by the association.
“In line with the Federal Government plan to diversify the economy and create jobs, the union in conjunction with sister bodies in West and Central Africa developed an onion recovery plan which will target an average steady growth of 20 per cent each year, from 2020 to 2026.
“Nigeria is among the 10 top onion exporting countries in the world, and with a competitive advantage of producing the largest onion producing country in sub-Saharan Africa, with annual 1.4 million metric tonnes in output.
“With the present arrangement, Nigeria will continuously export onions to Niger Republic, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Benin Republic, Mali, Cote D’Ivoire, and others, with more expanding opportunities,” Mr Maitasamu said.
He added that with the commencement of documented export of onion and onion products, the commodity has the capacity to contribute greatly to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), encourage repatriation of forex back to Nigeria and other value addition from the global map of onion exporting countries.
It was reported that the occasion was attended by Nigerian authorities, exporters and clearing agents, traditional rulers and representatives of law enforcement agencies.