How To Start A Lucrative Fruit & Vegetable Farming Business In Nigeria Or Africa: The Complete Guide
The African continent has a vast abundance of land, resources, and climate variations that allows it to produce different varieties of food and cash crops in its agricultural sector. This industry goes on to employ up to 70% of the Nigerian workforce, while contributing about 40% of the country’s GDP.
In the light of the economic output agriculture contributes to the economies of various African nations, the widespread demand and consumption of fruit and vegetable products in fast growing urban and rural areas has made vegetable farming in Nigeria or Africa a lucrative agribusiness to venture into.
According to data made publicly available by Statista, the worldwide production of vegetables as at 2014 sits at 1.1 billion metric tonnes, with China been the highest producer at 25.2 million metric tonnes.
Nigerian leads the production volume in Africa with about 1.1 million metric tonnes of vegetable crops produced in the year 2014, followed by Tanzania with about 339,193 metric tonnes produced in the same year.
This excessive production and global demand for vegetable crops is quickly driving up the production capacity of leading producers like China, India, and then Nigeria and Tanzania in Africa.
This opportunity is driving knowledgable farmers living in these countries to take advantage of the fast growing market by either expanding their fruit and vegetable farms or to setup fruit and vegetable farms as one of their agribusiness subsidiaries.
Fruit and vegetable farming is the cultivation of fruits and vegetables for human consumption. They can be grown by planting them in hanging baskets and window boxes or sown into dry or moist ground, and are widely consumed in many places around the world.
- Fruits and vegetables are one the world’s most popular source of food.
- China is the world’s largest producer of vegetable crops.
- fruits and vegetable farming is a great source of employment.
- Some fruits like tomatoes are very high in the carotenoid Lycopene. This means that eating them can lower your risk of cancer.
- A large amount of the nutrients in potatoes are just below the skin layer.
- Most vegetables don’t have to be stored in a fridge, but should be kept dark and dry.
- The Green-Yellow-Orange vegetables are rich sources of vitamin B-complex, vitamin-C, vitamin-A, vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and beta-carotene.
- Fruits and vegetables are nutritious no matter their variant.
- Fruits and vegetables have a lot of fibre.
- Some fruits and vegetables contain toxins.
- Apples give an average human more energy than coffee.
- Tomatoes are botanically fruits because they have seeds.
- The skins of most fruits and vegetables are the most nutritious, and so, are better than the actual fruit.
- Orange peels are healthy because they contain a lot of fibre.
Business Opportunities In Fruit And Vegetable Farming
1). A Great Source Of Food:
Fruits and vegetables have been feeding both humans and animals as far back as history has recorded. They’re highly nutritious and can serve as emergency meals in situations where cooking certain meals may take a long time to complete.
Some commonly consumed fruits include:
- Water Melons
- Paw Paws
And thousands more.
As for vegetable crops, there are different types of vegetables, and they range between leaf vegetables, root vegetables, fruit vegetables, pod vegetables, seed vegetables, flower vegetables, and bulb or stem vegetables.
Some Leaf Vegetables are:
- Broccoli (leaves / stalks)
- Grape leaves
Some flower vegetables include:
- Broccolini flowers
- Squash blossoms
Some podded vegetables include:
- American groundnut
- Black-eyed pea
Some bulb or stem vegetables include:
Some root and tuberous vegetables include:
- Bamboo Shoot
Some commonly consumed fruits & vegetables in Nigeria in their standard and local names include:
- Fluted Pumpkin (Ugwu):
This is also know as Ugwu in Nigeria, and is widely consumed in almost every part of the country. It is used in the preparation of a vast number of dishes and soups, because of its highly nutritious content and rich taste. Its tolerance to drought, poor soil, and extremely high demand makes it a top choice for vegetable farmers around the country.
- Jute Leaf (Ewedu):
This is a very common vegetable in the western part of Nigeria. It is largely used in the preparation of soups, and its adaptability to almost any type of farmland makes it a profitable vegetable for any farmer to cultivate in large quantities.
This vegetable crop has a wide number of uses; from food to being a critical part of the cosmetics industry, and so much more! It can be grow in organically rich and dry soil, but must have enough access to sunlight.
- Green Okra:
These vegetable crops are also used in the preparation of meals, especially soups, because of their rich nutritional content and taste. They’re also known as Gumbo, Ochro, and Lady’s Finger in many English speaking countries. Its popularity in Nigeria is so high that almost everyone has at one point or the other consumed an Okra soup.
Cabbage is a spicy vegetable crop that is used in the preparation of many meals. It can be eaten raw, and as a result, is largely used in the preparation of salads. It grows on fertile, drained soil, and cold environments, but must have a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight daily.
These are one of the most widely used fruits in meal preparations in many countries around the world, especially Nigeria. They can grow in warm, dry, and clear weather, and must have a minimum of 8 hours of sunlight daily.
2). Consumer Goods:
Asides just serving as a great source of food, fruits and vegetables are also used in the production of consumer goods like hair dye, olive oil, jam, foot rub, and metal polish.
Setting Up Your Fruit And Vegetable Farming Business
1). Select The Fruit And/Or Vegetable Crop You Intend To Cultivate:
The first step in starting a fruit and vegetable farming business is to decide what type of fruits or vegetables you intend to grow. As earlier stated, there are vast numbers of fruits and vegetables to choose from, and picking the right one or set is critical to growing a successful fruit and vegetable farm.
Some questions to ask yourself in your decision making process are:
- How resistant is this crop to pests and diseases?
- Is there a large demand for this crop?
- What are the risks of growing this crop?
- Where and how will the fruits and vegetables be sold?
- What volume of this crop should I first produce?
When you’ve answered the questions to the best of your knowledge and are satisfied with the preliminary results your fruit or vegetable crop of choice may fetch you, you can go ahead to start a fruit or vegetable farming business in that regard.
2). Choose A Suitable Farmland:
Depending on the type of fruit and/or vegetable crop you’ve decided to plant, you should choose a farmland that’d work perfectly for it. Some factors to consider in choosing a farmland include:
- Access to sunlight
- Availability of water
- Soil type
Every fruit and/or vegetable crop has the best type of soil or conditions in which it can grow, and your second job as a farmer is to choose the best farmland that’s suitable for the fruits and vegetables you’ve decided to grow.
3). Apply Fertilizer And Start Planting:
Mix a soiless mix and a balanced fertilizer that contains equal percentages of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium with the soil. Soiless mixes are sterile and will help rid the soil of weed and diseases, and also provide great drainage for the vegetables.
Next, separate each vegetable per container and plant the seeds at the correct depth. Also ensure there’s enough spacing between the plants.
4). Irrigate And Re-Fertilize:
Water the plants carefully, at least once a day to keep the soil moist, and re-fertilize the soil when the plants begin to grow.
5). Harvest & Market:
After a couple of months, depending on which type of fruit and vegetable farming business you ventured into, the next step is to harvest your crops, keep them in optimal storage locations, and sell them through your supply chain network.
Challenges Of Fruit And Vegetable Farming
Some of the challenges of fruit and vegetable farming in Nigeria and many parts of Africa include:
1). Lack of experience
2). Land tenure insecurity
3). Low and unstable investment in agricultural research
4). Financial Constraints:
- High interest rates.
- Inaccessible credit due to tough conditions.
- Expensive for manually irrigated and controlled environment.
5). Storage Constraints:
- Poor storage methods.
- Lack of post-harvesting preservation skills.
6). Farm Inputs Constraints:
- High prices of farm inputs.
- Choice of variety to use.
7). Infrastructural Constraints:
- Inaccessible roads.
- Poor market facilities.
8). Marketing Constraints:
- Price fluctuation.
- Presence of middlemen.
Fruit and vegetable farming in Nigeria or Africa as a whole, is one agricultural sector with a lot of highly profitable sub-sectors. Whether you choose to focus on growing a particular type of fruit or vegetable, there’s an abundant market for the products, both locally in the country and for exportation to many parts of the world.
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