Production system and zones

Here, we are interested mainly in onions and tomatoes because they are the focus of extremely intense transborder flows. Note that sweet pepper and pepper also move regularly between countries in the sub-region.

Apart from Nigeria whose production is incomparable with other countries, there is a kind of specialization in Niger and Benin for onion and tomato respectively (see table 1). This specialization is caused by various agroclimatic constraints.

Table n1.Production level in tons in the sub-region, in 1995/96.







13 101

182 688

651 370

34 917


88 248

96 318

555 630

27 344

Pepper/ Sweet pepper

18 770

13 836

251 230

4 854

Source : 1 Min Dév Rural, 2 DSCN, 3 Agricult Project Monitoring Evaluation, 4 Min Agriculture Direct Enquêtes Agricoles

* This is the estimated production of Bauchi, Sokoto, Jigawa, Kebbi and Kano states, from Agricultural Project Monitoring and Evaluation Unit, Kaduna : Fadama Crop Production survey and annual reports.

1. Regionalized production

Since onion is essentially an out of season crop, practiced on hydroagricultural lands, production is concentrated in the north of Benin, Nigeria and Cameroon and in the south of sahelian countries, more specifically in the dry tropical zone. Tomato production is carried out in the south of coastal countries (south of Benin, Nigeria and Cameroon) for pluvial tomato; in the north of the same countries and in the south of Niger and Chad for out of season crops.

In this light, the greater part of onion and tomato production in Nigeria is undertaken in the north of the country, in Kaduna, Kano, Jigawa, Katsina, Sokoto, Plateau and Bauchi States (see table 1). The natural features of these regions, especially the presence of flood-prone plains and river basins and above all the development of vast irrigated lands, create conditions that greatly favour the development of these crops. Pluvial tomato comes from Yoruba land, in the south of the country.

In Niger, the bulk of onion production is carried out in the Tillabery, Dosso, Tahoua, (80% of total production), Maradi and Zinder regions in the south of the country on irrigated lands, in the River Niger valley and along rivers such as Goulbi in the Maradi region. The level of onion production in this last region for example depended on the level of rainfall during the season. In fact, market-garden production uses water from the swelling waters of the Goulbi. Given that Nigeria has built a dam on this river, Maradi region only receives water and therefore produces abundantly when the river is in spate.

In Benin, the bulk of onion production is carried out in the Niger valley, in Malanville and Karimama "sous-prefectures"; it is also the production zone for some tomatoes (out of season tomato). In reality, however, 80% of Beninese tomatoes come from the south of the country during the rainy season. The most important production areas are found in the Lama depression (Atlantic region), on the "Adja" plateau (Mono region) and in the Oueme valley (subsidence production).

In Cameroon, onion is produced in the far north and the north respectively at 81% and 19%. Tomato comes from the west, center, a little to the far north and north west in an equal ratio. The main zone for pepper production is the center.

2. Sprayed production

In Northern Nigeria, production and the first stage of introducing market-garden produce to the market are undertaken by individual producers. Various States intervene to guarantee supply of water for irrigation and other agricultural inputs such as fertilizers. Nevertheless, there are market-garden produce producers' cooperatives or associations in each production zone. These cooperatives are equipped to help repair irrigation equipment (pipes and motor-pumps) and find sources of supply for inputs. These associations are not involved in produce collection and marketing. Some producers market their goods through contracts with firms such as Cadbury, Nestle Food....

In Niger like in Benin, production remains affected by individual exploitations for all market-garden produce. However, in Benin, there are producer groups, generally women, who benefit from NGO support but production in these groups is marginal. In Niger, on the other hand, onion production mobilizes significant resources in the Tahoua region through development projects. These resources are used to support programmes in the areas of well sinking, motor-pump equipment, thanks to projects such as the Tarka Basse Valley Project, Keita Integrated Project, FIDA Special Programme, Tahoua PDRT. Sweet pepper is produced by some individual producers but largely by producer groups established on 8 000 ha of irrigated lands in the Diffa region.