Benin: Onion Prices Surge Following Border Closure with Niger

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The price of dry onion is on the rise in markets. This culinary staple, widely used in Beninese cuisine, primarily comes from Niger. Since the closure of borders ordered by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), onions have become a costly commodity. A report from Cotonou’s Dantokpa market sheds light on the situation.

The increase in onion prices was observed in August 2023, immediately after the border closure. Trucks loaded with onions from Niger could no longer enter Benin. Despite December being a month when onions flood the markets, prices remain high.

“When the border was closed, the price increased,” says Pascal, encountered at the Dantokpa market in Cotonou. “Onions reached up to 40, 50, even 70,000 CFA francs. It’s too expensive. We need help. Help us, Mr. President!” exclaims Marthe, also encountered at the same market.

Bakary, a Nigerian and a former onion trader, explains that the price hike is due to the longer and more expensive route taken by trucks. “Onions leave Niger and pass through Sokoto. From Sokoto, trucks arrive in the Nigerian capital before entering Benin. Before the border closure, trucks took the corridor that led directly from Malanville to Cotonou,” he says.

Onions are a key ingredient in Beninese cuisine, and households have no choice but to buy them at the current prices. However, the commodity is moving slowly due to its high cost. Hence, this heartfelt plea from a wholesale vendor directed at President Patrice Talon: “He should do everything to open the border; we citizens are suffering a lot.”

Soukaina Sghir

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