Dundaye: Inside Sokoto community where residents rely on onions for livelihood

Dundaye: Inside Sokoto community where residents rely on onions for livelihood

It has become a norm in Dundaye, for each and every member of the community to engage in one aspect of onions production or the other, depending on his age, ability and economic status. Members of this small community; men, women, young and old, are active participants in the onions production processes While the adult men dominate the farming and storage aspects of the business, the youths handle the packaging, loading and off-loading of the produce.

 

Dundaye is a community located on the outskirts of Sokoto metropolis, with an approximate distance of six kilometers   away from the city and a population of about 10,000 people.

Like several other communities in the North-west region, residents of this community largely rely on farming and animal rearing for sustenance.

In particular, the residents of Dundaye have distinguished themselves in onions production, an occupation that makes the community unique among its peers. For several years, this small community has been producing onions in large quantities and transporting it to various locations within and outside the country for onward sale to buyers.

 

It has become a norm in Dundaye, for each and every member of the community to engage in one aspect of onions production or the other, depending on his age, ability and economic status.

Members of this small community; men, women, young and old, are active participants in the onions production processes. While the adult men dominate the farming and storage aspects of the business, the youths handle the packaging, loading and off-loading of the produce.

Women on their part are into separation of the spoilt onions from the good ones, making of ropes, threads and other items that are used in packaging the produce for exportation.

Onions produced by this community is being transported in large quantities to the southern part of Nigeria and neighboring countries. While the red onions are taken to places like Port-Harcourt, Onitsha, Aba, Delta, Cross-Rivers, Lagos, Benue, Ekiti, Ogun Osun and Ondo among others, the white onions are exported to the neighboring countries of; Niger, Abidjan, Cameroon, Chad, Ghana and Benin republic.

Interestingly, the locals preserve the onions in local storage facilities for at least a year, before taking it to various destinations within and outside the country.

Hundreds of local onions storage facilities are spread across Dundaye. A single storage facility can keep onions for more than a year without getting bad. However, it was gathered that the product must be kept in an open space, under the sun.

When the community begins the annual sale of onions, Weekend Trust learnt that at least three to five trailers loaded with the product leave the village daily to the southern part of Nigeria or the neighboring countries.

silos constructors at work
silos constructors at work

Abubakar Ibrahim is an onions farmer, who has been in the business for several years. He told Weekend Trust that people travel from very far places to Dundaye, to buy onions every year.

He said usually, the cost of a bag of onions ranges from N20,000 to N60,000, depending on the size.

“For instance, a bag we called Solo, is sold between N28,000 and N30,000, depending on the type of onions a buyer likes. The red one is more expensive than the white onion,” he said.

Ibrahim said hundreds of people are earning their living through the onions value chain business in Dundaye village, adding that the business is very profitable.

Another resident of the community, Abdullahi Bawa, said onion farming is the major occupation of the people of Dandaye, noting that, “we have no other major business in this village apart from onion production. In fact, we are not only producing it, but preserving and exporting it to other places for sale.”

“We have different sizes of storage facilities; we have facilities that can contain eight bags, 10 bags, 12 bags and 15 bags and above. We preserve the onions for at least one year before we take it to other places to sell.

“I produce between 50 and 60 bags of onions every year. I know a farmer in this community that produces up to 150 bags and there are others that are harvesting more than that quantity because they have the means of cultivating more hectares of land annually.

“Virtually every member of the Dandaye community is an onion producer. Though, some of us are into the production of sweet potatoes, onions always take the lead. Every household in the community produces certain tons of onions.”

Malami Isa, another resident, who has been producing onions for the past 24 years, said between 200 and 250 persons earn their living in each unit of onion preservation facility across Dandaye, while hundreds of others produce onions at the Fadama site.

onion storage facilities
onion storage facilities

Isa explained that everything they are doing is through personal efforts.

“We buy fertiliser and agricultural inputs from the markets at high prices. We hope that the Sokoto State government will come to our aid through provision of basic agricultural inputs.

“This will improve our production capacity. If a farmer, through his personal efforts can produce 30 bags of onions, tell me how many bags he will produce if he gets enough fertiliser and other inputs from the government at subsidised prices. Such a gesture will surely boost the morale of farmers to triple their production capacity.”

Another farmer, Muhammad Lauwali, said the business of onions production has done everything for him.

“I built a house and got married, both from the proceeds of the onions business. I am also taking care of my family, courtesy of the business.

“Several people are earning their living from this business in this community. Some are silos makers, others are labourers, whose main job is loading and off-loading bags of onions whenever the need arises. There are others, who are packaging the produce for transportation to other places.

“Not all of us are active farmers; some are empty sacks dealers and they are getting money as well. The little girls, who hawk food at the production sites, are also making brisk business,” he said.

Ibrahim Idris is one of the labourers that specialises in fixing onions silos in Dundaye and he told Weekend Trust that, though he is not farming the product, he is satisfied with what he is earning from the business.

“I am not a farmer, rather a silos maker. After farmers harvest their onions, they invite us to make and fix the silos for them. I thank God that through this small business I am taking good care of myself. I make between N2,000 and N4,000 everyday, depending on the work I am able to do in a day.

“We usually get more money during harvest because the demand for our services is higher then. Before the harvest period, we look for other menial jobs to take care of ourselves,” he said.

Another labourer, Musa Yusuf, whose duty is watering of the onion’s farms, said he earns between N3,000 and N4,000 daily through the job and that it covers his daily needs.

He added: “Although I have a wife and two children, I am taking good care of my family from what I get from this job. I come out around 6am and close around 7pm after watering the onions in the evening. I work on three farms on a daily basis and on each farm, I get nothing less than N700 per round.”