Agriculture

Niger coup: Over GHs45m at risk as Ghana onion trucks are stranded at Benin border

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Over 100 trucks loaded with onions are locked up at the border town between Benin and Niger following the border closure.

Each truck is transporting at least three hundred bags of onions at the cost of Ghs1,500 each.

An estimated GHs45 million worth of onions remains locked up at the border, with a large amount rotting away.

The border closure was taken on the orders of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) in opposing the military takeover in Niger.

The Kwadaso Onion Market is the biggest in the Ashanti Region of Ghana.

At least thirty trucks, each carting about three hundred and thirty bags of onions, are offloaded at the beginning of every week.

On this typical day at the market, five trucks are offloading onions at the market.

Truck driver, Mohammed Salisu, was stranded carting onions on the border for a week.

He says it took the intervention of Ghana’s Embassy to the landlocked country to get access for the trucks bound for Ghana.

“Some trucks have been on the border for 10 to twelve days. I stayed there for just a week. We had to call the Ghana Ambassadors office, who sent a delegation to the border. The Ambassador also came the following day to resolve the issues”, he narrates.

Mumuni Adulai who was bound for Niger had to divert his route to Nigeria to get onions after being stranded at the Benin borders for days.

“We spent days on the border so we had to change our destination to Nigeria to get some onions”, he explained.

Video footage available to JoyNews shows hundreds of trucks carting onions stranded at the border.

The content of the trucks are already rotting away. Some of the trucks are offloading the onions for local traders.

For fear of terrorist activities at the Niger-Burkina Faso borders, the route is not an option for truck drivers.

Mohammed Amidu, an onion trader, has received three hundred and fifty bags of onions he had imported.

After opening the sacks, most of them were rotten, forcing him to sell the little he could salvage for two hundred cedis per bag, instead of a thousand five hundred.

“We can’t do anything. We look up to God now. I will have to search for a loan to help me get back into business. If I don’t get alone, we thank God”, he said.

Many importers at the onion market count their loss.

Mumuni Alambilla has two trucks of onions locked up in Niger. It is unclear when these trucks will get to cross the border.

He wants the ECOWAS to find a solution to the present situation.

“The government and other international bodies including the ECOWAS must do something about the situation. We are losing our capital”, he added.

The onion retailers who have purchased the bags offloaded in the morning dip their hands through the onions poured on the ground in search for those in best shape.

They find it difficult retrieving the good ones.

Abena Gyamfuaa “they are all rotten. We have paid them already. We pay for the onions before we get the opportunity to open the sacks. So we are incurring loses.”

According to the traders, locally cultivated onions are least preferred by consumers for diverse reasons.

Some have nicknamed it “sobolo” due to the red colour. Here are other reasons consumers shy away from the local variety.

“It was very difficult to sell the local onions. The consumers kept complaining. They say it doesn’t taste good”, Abena added.

Many believe the present situation may lead to a hike in prices of the commodity due to a possible reduction in supply.

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