Abuja, Dec. 11, 2023: Residents of the Federal Capital Territory(FCT) have lamented the increasing cost of onions and how they have been forced to use them sparingly.
A dustbin basket of onions in the FCT is being sold for N4,000 to N6,500, while a sack sells for N100,000 to N120,000 depending the market.
At Gwagwalada market, a dustbin basket of onions was being sold at N4,500, while in Wuse market it was sold for between N6,000 to N6,500, and in Garki Market it is being sold at between N4,700 to N5,000.
In Nyanyan market, a dustbin basket sells for between N5,000 to N6,500, while in Gosa market it sells at N6,500,
The latest National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Food Price Report for October 2023 said the average price of 1kg of Onion bulb rose by 46.11 per cent on a year-on-year basis from N405.72 in October 2022 to N592.80 in October 2023.
On a month-on-month basis, the price of 1kg of onions increased by 14.98 per cent from N515.59 recorded in September 2023 to N592.80 in October 2023.
According to Breath Well-being, Allium Cepa, also known as onion, is a common kitchen ingredient used to add flavour to delectable dishes and belongs to the same family as garlic, leeks, and cloves.
Onions which are grown all over the world, come in different colours of white, yellow, red/purple and offer some notable health benefits.
Hajiya Jummai Hassan, the Assistant Director, Clinical Nutritionist and Dietitians, Gwarimpa General Hospital, who spoke to NAN, said onion was a vegetable essential in our daily diet because of its health benefits.
According to her, onions are vegetables of the Allium family and are rich in organic sulphur which is a powerful anticancer ingredient.
“Allium vegetables contain quercetin, an anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-cancer compound.
Hassan said the phytochemicals in onions improve the working of vitamin C in the body, therefore, improving the body’s immunity.
“Onions contain chromium, which assists in regulating the blood sugar, onions also help reduce inflammation and heal infections.
She said whether cooked or raw, onion was good for the health as a natural antibiotic, although raw onions had higher levels of organic sulphur.
“Eating onions raw (properly washed), taking its juice, or drinking its broth (preparable with honey) is a first-class remedy for numerous diseases of the throat, respiratory tract, intestine, kidney and skin, etc.
“Onions also help especially with hoarseness, cough, flu, and colds among others.
“Boiled onions and its broth is one of the best medicines for all ailments of the respiratory tract, ” she said.
Mrs Aghogho Osagie, a Public Servant, said she was a lover of onions, however, she had to buy in small quantities and control the quantity she used in cooking.
“Onions have become like gold, they are so expensive now. One small onion is sold for N100 as against three to four pieces being sold for the same amount before.
“A dustbin basket is like N5,000 depending on where you are buying from.
“When I don’t have onions at home I feel uncomfortable, because I put a lot of onions in almost everything I cook.
“We all love onions in my house, we eat them raw or cooked. Now I just buy it in small quantities and manage it. If what I am cooking requires one medium size, I will use a quarter or half, ” she said.
Also, Mrs Bidemi Adekunle, a Civil Servant, said she could not afford to buy onions in large quantities for now and used them sparingly because of the increasing price.
” I bought three medium-sized onions for N400. I love adding onions to my food but with the price increase, I just have to manage it when cooking,” she said.
Ms Sarah Udoh, a businesswoman, decried the hike in the price of onions, adding that she used spring onions as an alternative.
” I cannot do without onions in my food. So I must always have onions in my house. I can leave out some other items so that I can buy onions.
“Onion is a natural sweetener. I do not use seasoning cubes to cook, once I put plenty of onions in my food it makes it sweet.
“I have been managing to buy onions but not in very large quantities, so I alternate them with spring onions because they are far cheaper. I just cut off the onion bulb part and used it,” she said.
Similarly, Chioma Nwafor, said she had substituted onions for spring onions.
“With N200, I buy a lot of spring onions compared to the two small-sized onions you will get for N200.
“With the inflation in the country, you have to look for cheaper substitutes if they are available,” Nwafor said.
Mr Samuel Chidi, a bachelor, said the price of onions had skyrocketed and had become unaffordable for some people.
“I love to use onions in my food but with the soaring prices, it is becoming more difficult to afford.
“I bought four small-sized onions for N350 as against seven to eight pieces for that same price before. So for now, I just buy a few pieces and manage it, ” he said.
A Caterer, Anu Phillips, said the increasing cost of onions and other food items was affecting her business.
“In this business, we use a lot of onions to cook because it enhances the flavour of the food and we use it for garnishing.
“I cannot imagine cooking without onions except the client specifically asks for it not to be included. So I must buy it at whatever price it is sold for.
“It is difficult to make good profit with the increasing cost of food items. I have to increase my prices if not I will sell at a loss,” she said.
Mohammed Shettima, a grilled meat seller popularly called ” Mai Suya”, said he had to stop adding onions to his suya because he could not afford to buy it.
” The price of onions has increased so much, I cannot buy it the way I used to again.
“Before I used to put plenty of onions for my customers but now I cannot. I just put plenty of cabbage for them. If they complain I tell them onion is too expensive,” Shettima said.
Grace Oji, a trader who sells onions said the high cost could be attributed to the harvest season and inflation being generally experienced in the country.
“When farm crops are being harvested, the prices tend to be higher. There is usually more demand for that crop than the supply and when demand is higher than supply the price will increase.
“By January, February, farmers would have finished harvesting onions and I believe the price will come down because there will be more supply,” she said.
A transporter, Adisa Bakare, said the increase in the price of onions, just like every other food item, was a result of the removal of fuel subsidies and high foreign exchange rate.
“The removal of fuel subsidy is really affecting the transportation business. Some states are selling fuel for as high as N700 per litre, so before you transport these items from the farm to the markets, you will be spending so much on fuel.
“Also, the price of dollars is affecting the transport business. Many of the vehicle spare parts are imported.
“So when you look at all this, it will affect the price of food items by the time it gets to the final consumers,” he said.