COTE D’IVOIRE – Côte d’Ivoire, has witnessed a significant surge in onion imports, averaging a remarkable 10% per year between 2018 and 2022.

Notably, the country has solidified its position as Africa’s foremost importer of these vegetable and ranks 7th globally in terms of imports.

The data compiled from the Trade Map platform, reveals a striking trajectory in onion purchases on the international market.

From 201,000 tons in 2018, imports surged to exceed 295,000 tons by 2022. However, alongside this upward trend, the onion import expenditure has also risen, marking an average annual increase of 6.6%, soaring from USD 37.7 million in 2018 to USD 48.7 million in 2022.

Throughout this period, the Netherlands has emerged as the primary onion supplier to Côte d’Ivoire, accounting for a significant share of imports.

In 2022 alone, the European country shipped over 172,500 tons to Ivorian ports, constituting nearly 60% of the total onion purchases.

Additional contributions to the supply chain originate from Niger and Burkina Faso, together supplying approximately 34% of imported volumes, equating to around 100,300 tons.

North African countries like Morocco and Egypt also play a role, contributing approximately 5% to the onion shipments in 2022.

The surge in onion imports primarily stems from the limitations of local production, which fails to meet the escalating demand.

FAO data underscores this disparity, indicating that the domestic onion harvest has stagnated around 9,000 tonnes annually, covering less than 5% of the total demand.

Nevertheless, there are efforts underway to bolster domestic production. In 2020, the Côte d’Ivoire Onion Interprofession (IOCI) formulated a strategic plan aimed at enhancing the sector’s development.

With aspirations to ramp up local onion production to 36,000 tonnes by 2024, the organization, comprising over 10,000 producers in 2018, is striving to bridge the gap between supply and demand.

In Côte d’Ivoire, onion cultivation predominantly thrives in production basins situated in the northern regions, particularly Tingrela, Odienné, and Korhogo.

Despite the surge in onion imports, Côte d’Ivoire continues to grapple with fluctuations in the import value of edible vegetables.

According to a report by Statista, in 2019, the approximate value of edible vegetable imports into the country totaled USD 57.5 million, marking a decline from the preceding year’s figure of roughly USD 62 million.

The Netherlands emerged as a key trade partner, accounting for just over 50% of the vegetable import trade.

The challenges in local production coupled with the burgeoning demand for onions underscore the imperative for Côte d’Ivoire to strategize and invest in enhancing domestic agricultural capacity to achieve sustainable self-sufficiency in this vital sector.

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