For years, Zambia wept over the price of onions. Reliant on imports, the humble bulb became a barometer of economic woes, its price fluctuations mirroring the anxieties of ordinary Zambians. But a quiet revolution has been brewing in the fields – a story of agricultural determination and government backing that has seen Zambia transform from an importer to a self-sufficient onion producer.

“It’s a victory not just for farmers but for the nation,” beams Jervis Zimba, President of the Zambia National Farmers Union. “The past two years have seen a dramatic shift. We haven’t needed a single onion import thanks to a surge in domestic production.”
This triumph wasn’t overnight. The government, acknowledging the grip of imported onions, took a crucial step: restricting imports. This, as Agriculture Minister Reuben Mtolo explains, “created the space for our local farmers to thrive.”

But space needed cultivation. The government, in partnership with the Farmers Union, provided crucial support. Improved access to seeds, training in modern farming techniques, and a focus on irrigation all proved to be fertile ground for success.
“The extension services have been a game-changer,” says Musonda Kanyanta, a small-scale onion farmer in Kabwe. “We learned new methods, from proper spacing to disease control. It’s made a world of difference to our yields.”
The impact is undeniable. Zambia’s supermarkets are now brimming with locally-grown onions. Prices have stabilized, a relief for consumers like Evelyn Mumba. “Onions used to be a luxury in our house,” she says, “Now, I can afford to add them to our meals more regularly.”

This success story isn’t just about onions. It’s a blueprint for agricultural self-sufficiency across the board. President Hakainde Hichilema himself has championed the cause, urging young Zambians to see agriculture as a lucrative and empowering career path.
“We have the potential to not just feed ourselves, but to become an exporter,” declares Minister Mtolo. “Rice is next on the agenda. We have the land, the skills, and now, the confidence.”

Zambia’s Onion Odyssey is a lesson in resilience and strategic intervention. It’s a story with a pungent punchline, proving that with the right recipe of support and local effort, even the tear-inducing onion can become a symbol of national pride.