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Onion production in Ghana

In Ghana, onion production has tremendous market potential as you can find industrial and domestic farming being carried out. Dealing with a highly perishable crop, onion production requires specific and targeted value chain intervention by various government agencies that can aid production volumes, values and consumer demand. For example, the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) program in Ghana is responsible for increasing agricultural growth inGhana during high demand in the onion production market by consumers. As a result of the efforts put in by the PFJ initiative, onion production can expand significantly and import bills in Ghana could be lowered especially in the dry season when domestic onion farming slows down. Farmers in Ghana usually produce onions in the rainy season which in turn yields 75 percent of the onion production per annum. This fact makes the onion business in Ghana a profitable source of income for the economy although there are various challenges faced by farmers. Some of these challenges include the lack of appropriate varieties available to farmers and the seasonal nature of onion production and despite high onion production levels, 80 to 90 percent of onions are imported. With the help of the PFJ, more research can be done to develop and disseminate large financial return opportunities that are preferred by consumers and explore options for extending the growing season. 

Onion Yield Per Acre in Ghana

       Dry season onion farmers in the Upper East Region of Ghana have recorded significant increases in yield per acre following the use of quality seed and the adoption of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) in the 2014/2015 cropping season. Typical onion producers are smallholders with an average yield per acre land area of 0.46 hectares (ha). Unlike other vegetables that are grown across the country, such as tomatoes, cultivating onions in Ghana is largely limited to the northern regions. Most onion farmers only plant a single crop each year, planting around January and harvesting in April. Although onion production has been shown to be profitable outside of the main growing season, farmers usually choose to grow other field crops during the rest of the year, resulting in onion supply shortfalls. Even throughout peak production in the Gold Coast, native onion production falls well in need of native demand. Consequently, traders believe foreign onions to satisfy demand

Onion farming in Ghana 

Onions cultivated in Ghana square measure extremely heterogeneous and manufacture bulbs of assorted sizes, colors and pungency. they need unpredictable flowering patterns, if any in the slightest degree, with associated low yields and poor storability. These problems are due to the unavailability of advanced technical knowledge of agronomic practices and before harvest techniques, incidence of pests and diseases, and unavailability of high quality planting tools. Other Constraints to onion production include lack of credit facilities, and lack of research and market information to farmers. The selection and/or development of good-quality planting materials, and suitably-designed agronomic and post-harvest strategies could help curb the problems militating against higher onion bulb yields and quality in Ghana. 

How to start an onion farming business in Ghana commercially 

        Starting an onion business requires adequate knowledge of the plant and seasons for growth. With the following information, any individual can own an onion farming business in ghana: 

  1. Types Of Onions: There are two basic types or categories of Onions which they are, short day and long day onions with different growing seasons. Typically there are 21 types of onions in the world but as a Ghanaian onion farmer, the two main types of onion cultivated are Bawku and Galmi onions. The local Bawku red variety is smaller and has a shorter maturity period than the Galmi variety that is imported o when making a decision on what onion plant, be on the lookout for the perennial onions like the Bawku types because they produce faster and better than Galmi.
  1. How To Plant Onions: For maximum growth of the crop, Onions should be grown from its seeds and then transplanted. One can still grow it in any way they desire but the methods of transplanting allows the farmer to yield proper space for the crops to grow. The best space is usually 1/2 an inch apart and 3/8inch deep. The rows of onion crops are best set at 15 inches apart.
  1. Maintaining a Good Condition of The Plants: Onions need quite a lot of water at the initial stage of growth so that in the dry season the crop can be ready to have it watered frequently for good water retention.Weeding the onion crop is very important also because it will help the crop to retain the nutrients in the soil instead of sharing it with the unwanted plants. This is because onions have been found to do much better undisturbed by other plants or grasses. While maintaining the onion crop through weeding, enough care should be taken not to disturb the roots unnecessarily. It is also a good choice to use a natural root builder for example, by adding some mycorrhizal fungi to assist the roots get the appropriate soil nutrients.
  1. Cultivating Period: Onions are usually harvested within three months, especially the bulb shaped onions. Farmers should be watchful of when the plants begin to turn yellow because that indicates the right time to harvest it. You can also quicken the onion cultivating process by breaking the top part of the onion crop as that makes it ripen before bringing out its flowering stalks. It is important to not wait until the onion starts producing flower stalks. For the green onions, it is ideally due for harvesting when it gets up to 5 inches tall as it has been observed to have a stronger flavor if it is allowed to grow taller.
  1. Seasons for cultivating in Ghana: Onions are best planted in the middle of October although it can be planted at other times of the year but during the mid-October, there are uniform nutrients and moisture in the growing season. Furrow irrigation is encouraged when cultivating onions for the plants to produce adequately. Onion farming in Ghana is not suitable for the mediocre businesses but is meant for those who intend to make millions of Ghanaian Cedis because the onion production business has the capacity to do just that. Various major markets in Ghana have onions businesses that make a huge profit as the price for a bag of onions is high (25 GHS). During festive periods in Ghana, the prices of onions increase as well as other fresh products like tomato and pepper which are also popular in Ghanaian market.

Pests affecting Onion production in Ghana

  • Onion thrips
  • Onion maggot
  • Bulb mite
  • Eriophyid mite
  • Red spider mite

Diseases affecting the crop during Onion production in Ghana

  • Damping off
  • Snyder & Hansen
  • Purple blotch
  • Stemphylium leaf blight
  • Colletotrichum blight or Anthracnose or Twister disease
  • [(Penz.) Penz. and Sacc]
  • Onion yellow dwarf virus
  • Iris yellow spot virus

Weeds affecting Onion cultivatingin Ghana

Broadleaf weeds

  • Pigweed
  • Swine cress
  • Black nightshade
  • Common purslane
  • False amaranth
  • Lamb’s quarter
  • Scarlet pimpernel
  • Sweet clover
  • Fine leaf fumitory
  • Corn spurry
  • Carrot grass

Grassy weeds 

  • Rabbit/crow foot grass
  • Crab grass
  • Barnyard grass
  • Blue grass
  • Canary grass
  • Chinese love grass
  • (Retz.) Nees. Ex Steud. (Poaceae)
  • Goosegrass

Sedge

  • Purple nutsedge
  • Flat sedge

Internal and external trade of Onion in Ghana

     Ghana is a net importer of onion with its larger consumer markets in the south of Accra and Kumasi in the middle of the country. With the onion production in Ghana concentrated in the north and imports originating from Ghana’s northern borders, there are significant opportunities for trade and spatial arbitrage.      

       The upper East region of the savannah zone is a particularly frequent feeding area from where domestically produced onion is harvested and transported to consumer markets. However, with important shortfalls in native production, giant volumes of imports square measure required to shut the gap.

Jakub Borowiec
Jakub Borowiec
Financial markets enthusiast. I studied management at the University of Economics in Wroclaw.
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