The scarcity of onions in Douala is being felt not only traders, but households. As a result, a sack of onion has increased from 30,000 FCFA last August to 60,000 FCFA in October 2016. Traders in Marché d’Oignons blame the scarcity on the off season. “Since harvest season in the main production areas of the North and Far North Regions is February and March, it is but normal that onions be scarce,” Zacharie Waraha, a trader in Marché des Oignons, disclosed.
Given that there is abundance during the harvest season and cultivation is mostly done once a year, what is consumed after is reserved from the harvest season. When the stock starts running out from August, the prices automatically increase. A sack of 100 kilogrammes during peak season in Douala sells between 20,000 FCFA and 25,000 FCFA, while the same quantity from August to early January sells for 60,000 FCFA and 80,000 FCFA. The situation in markets is painful to both traders and customers, with four medium-size onions that used to cost 100 FCFA in April now going for 500 FCFA.
Though locally-produced onion is available, it is largely insufficient. Reason why imported onions from Niger and Holland supplement local production. Dutch onion sold in nets of 25 kilogrammes, goes for between 10,000 FCFA and 11,000 FCFA; while the red type from Niger that is mostly imported between October and January, sells for between 40,000 FCFA and 50,000 FCFA a sack. Locally-cultivated onion, Zacharie said, will be available in large quantity from February.