In 1988, seven countries of West Africa decided to join efforts to establish a regional cooperation for vegetable production development in West Africa.
These countries are: Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal.
Three other countries joined in 1991: Cape Verde Islands, Guinea Bissau, and Chad.
The objective was to establish a functional mechanism aimed at:
- the dissemination of scientific and technical information;
- the training of scientists, technicians, and farmers; and
- the development of seed production and exchange at the regional level.
It was decided to concentrate on three major crops which are of common interest to all countries concerned: tomato, onion, and potato.
Network activities are being organized through national coordinators who act as a focal point and contact person in each country.
The network receives technical assistance through a field project financed by a Belgian trust fund and implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The project's coordination unit is stationed at Dakar, Senegal.
This regional project started in November 1988, and its financing is secured until December 1995. (The names and addresses of the national coordinators and of the Regional Co-ordination Unit are available from the first author).
Major project activities relate to training of scientists and technicians and management of regional vegetable variety trials and quality seed-production schemes.
It also prepares a regional newsletter in French which is circulated twice a year.
Current membership is approximately 280.
In March 1992, a regional seminar was held at Maradi in Niger, a place famous for its traditional onion growing in the Sahelian region of Africa.
The purpose was to review the current status and constraints regarding onion growing and propagation.
The participants decided to establish a sub-regional working group on allium research and development for West Africa with Mr.
M.L. Ba, head of the Horticulture Division of the Centre for Agronomic Research and Rural Development, Mauritania (CNRADA), designated as the coordinator.
This paper provides the highlights of onion production and constraints in Sahelian countries of Africa as discussed during the regional workshop at Maradi, Niger.