How To Start A Lucrative Maize Farming Business In Nigeria Or Africa (The Complete Guide)
Maize farming, also known as corn farming, is one of the most viable agricultural business ideas in Africa, including Nigeria. It is consumed in various forms and feeds over 500 million Africans yearly.
According to a research carried out by the IITA, over 800 million tonnes of maize is produced yearly, with Africa only accounting for about 6.5% of this figure. This is extremely low considering the fact that America produced about 32% of the world’s total maize crops grown in 2010 alone, followed by China.
Of the percentage produced in Africa, Nigeria is the largest producer with about 8 million tonnes of maize produced yearly in the country, followed by South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda.
The small percentage Africa has in the worldwide production of the maize crop shows there’s still an abundant opportunity for maize cultivation on the continent.
Maize is also known as corn, and is said to be first domesticated by Mexicans over 10,000 years ago, and has since spread across the whole world in various forms like flint corn, flour corn, dent corn, pop corn, and pod corn.
The use of Maize crops spans through cooking starch, the production of dairy products like milk and yogurt, eggs, meats, and in the manufacturing of animal feed (livestock feed). It’s a great source of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamin B, iron, and minerals, and digests both easily and fast.
In several countries around the world, maize is used largely for just the production of animal feed, but in Nigeria and many other countries in Africa, maize is consumed on a wide margin as a cereal crop and for several other purposes, making it one of the three most consumed cereal crops in the world, right after rice and wheat.
What Is Maize Farming About?
Maize farming is the commercial growing of maize products for human consumption and other purposes like the production of animal feed, flour, fodder, and several other purposes.
Facts And Benefits Of Maize Farming
- It is used in the production of animal feed.
- It is a source of food for the community.
- It is used in the production of sweeteners.
- It is used in the production of starch and ethanol.
- It is used in the production of oil (corn oil).
- There’s an abundance of maize seed locally.
- A source of employment.
- It grows fast (usually 90 to 120 days).
- One seed of maize can produce 500 kernels at harvest.
- They can grow in a vast number of soils and survive many climatic conditions.
- Contains protein and is rich in vitamins A, B, C, and E
- It is easier to maintain, cultivate, and is less delicate than rice.
- The use of hybrid maize and a mechanised farming process can yield up to 10 tonnes per hectare, but regular maize seed with the traditional farming process can yield up to 2 tonnes per hectare.
Business Opportunities In Maize Farming Around The World
1). Production Of Animal Feed:
Maize products are widely used in the production of livestock feed, although wheat can also be used. This is the reason America is the largest producer of maize products, accounting for 32% of the total maize crops produced worldwide in 2010 alone, followed by China.
You can venture into this agribusiness only to focus on maize cultivation for the production of high quality animal feed, which can then be sold to livestock farmers.
2). Source Of Food:
In many parts of Africa, a lot of people consume the maize crop. In case you’re wondering, maize is also known as corn, and millions of Africans consume it yearly, after it has ripened and is either roasted or boiled.
For example, ground maize is usually prepared as porridge in south and east Africa, while in West Africa, maize flour can be used to prepare either pap or porridge. It is also used in the production of popcorn.
By tapping into a market of over 100 million people, you can grow maize crops for local consumption. The maize crops could either be distributed locally or exported to neighbouring countries, but depending on your capacity, you can maximise the returns on your investment.
3). Industrial Use:
Beyond human and animal food, maize can be used in the production of starch, ethanol, sweeteners, and oil (corn oil). They’re usually purchased in large quantities by breweries and food producers, to be used in their production process. Some organisations that purchase millions of dollars worth of maize products yearly are Kellogs, Nestle, and producers of beer.
Setting Up Your Maize Farming Business
1). Get A Suitable Spacious Farmland:
The first step to setting up your maize farm is to choose the right farmland. Several factors to consider in choosing this include:
- The type of soil: Maize crops do well in sandy or loamy soil.
- A flat landscape
- Non-waterlogged lands
- Great access to sunlight: Ensure trees and vegetations do no overshadow the maize plants.
After choosing based on these factors, you should hire labourers to clear and prepare the farmland for cultivation. They’d weed the soil and till it, so it can be loose enough to preserve the top soil and seedbeds.
After preparing the soil, the maize seeds (preferably high yield hybrid maize seeds) should be planted on time, so the weeds don’t outgrow the maize crops.
2). Pick The Maize Variety:
Choosing the right maize seed variety will determine the type of maize yield your farmland will generate. There are different varieties of maize seeds that can be planted. The best are usually what’s accepted in your market and whether it’s hybrid (high yield) or not.
Some things to look out for when choosing a maize seed variety is how fast they grow, how resistant they are to pests and diseases, whether they’re high yield seeds or not, and how well they can survive a drought based on their consumption of water or not.
The maize seeds are of two types:
- Late season seeds: These are best for areas where the rainy seasons are long. They can also mature between 110 to 120 days.
- Early season seeds: They can be planted after the late season seeds and can mature between 90 to 100 days.
- Extra-early season seeds: These are suitable for areas with a short-term rainfall. They can mature between 80 to 90 days.
3). Prepare The Farmland By Applying Fertilizer:
The fertility of the soil will determine the need for fertilizers or not. There are different types of fertilizers you could purchase, but irrespective of how fertile the soil is, if you want higher yields, you can apply fertilizer to the farmland.
4). Plant Only When The Time Is Right:
The best time to plant your maize seeds is to do it right after the rainy season has started (about 2 or 3 times after the first rain). Planting during this period will aid better growth and maturity for your maize crop, because some maize plants need a lot of water during their growth process, as some consume as much 450 to 600 mm of water.
5). Mitigate Against Weed, Pests, And Diseases:
It is important to protect your maize crops from weed, pests, and diseases like army worms, downy mildew, strigas, grasshoppers, and several others.
You can mitigate against these by using pesticides, herbicides, and different disease control methods.
6). Harvesting Your Maize Crops:
The type of maize seed variety, access to sunlight, rainfall, mitigations against weeds, pests, and diseases, amongst others, are high determinants of the amount of maize crops that can be harvested.
Depending on the farming process used and type of maize seeds (hybrid seeds or not) planted, you may be able to either generate about 10 tonnes of maize yield per hectare or about 2 tonnes of maize yield per hectare.
Challenges Of Maize Farming
Some of the challenges of maize farming in Nigeria and many parts of Africa include:
1). Lack of experience
2). Financial Constraints:
- High interest rates.
- Inaccessible credit due to tough conditions.
3). Storage Constraints:
- Poor storage methods.
- Lack of post-harvesting preservation skills.
- Weevil damage.
- Rodents damage.
4). Farm Inputs Constraints:
- High prices of farm inputs.
- Choice of variety to use.
5). Infrastructural Constraints:
- Inaccessible roads.
- Poor market facilities.
6). Marketing Constraints:
- Price fluctuation.
- Lack of ready market.
- Presence of middlemen.
- Imported maize.
Like several other agribusinesses that have great potentials for both scale and profitability, starting a maize farming business in Nigeria or across Africa is a great agribusiness to start up if executed at the right scale with high yield hybrid maize seeds. This will ensure you produce a substantial volume that can be sold profitably, both locally and for exports.
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What are your thoughts on how to start a maize farming business in Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Africa as a whole, or across the world? Let me know by leaving a comment below.