Hibiscus is a plant grown in most tropical and sub-tropical countries. Scientifically known as Hibiscus sabdariffa and generally known as Roselle, hibiscus is one of the highest volumes of flower botanically produced globally. Demand for hibiscus has steadily heightened over the last decade. Currently, over 15,000 metric tons enter the international market each year.
Nigeria is one of the top global producers and suppliers of hibiscus. The Nigerian hibiscus is distinct and can grow up to 15 ft. high and 6 ft. wide. It is principally sourced from six states in the Northern area of the country; Kano, Katsina, Bauchi, Gombe, Borno, and Jigawa. The Nigerian hibiscus industry is estimated at a value of $100 million. In 2017, Nigeria exported about 1,983 containers of hibiscus to Mexico alone, earning $35 million in nine months, according to the Association of Hibiscus Flower Exporters of Nigeria (AHFEN).
Despite being profitable, hibiscus has not received adequate attention from agriculturists and investors in Nigeria. However, this article is an excellent eye-opener, aimed at exploring the business opportunities associated with the hibiscus plant. It also provides a step-by-step guide to help you start a profitable hibiscus farming.
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What Is Hibiscus?
Hibiscus is a genus of flowering plants in the mallow family, Malvaceae. Hibiscus, also called rose mallow, is a genus of plants with flowers of bright colours. It grows primarily in the tropics, though some species grow in cold environments. The flower usually has five petals. Hibiscus comes in several colours such as white, pink, red, purple, and yellow. Red is the most popular colour in Nigeria.
What Is Hibiscus Farming?
Hibiscus farming encompasses all the procedures in cultivating the hibiscus plant. It involves selecting a good soil for the plant to thrive, applying fertilisers or manure when necessary, harvesting, and drying, etc.
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Business Opportunities In Hibiscus Farming In Nigeria & Around The World
1). Hibiscus Tea Production:
Hibiscus tea is commonly known as zobo drink in Nigeria. It is a caffeine-free herbal tea from a particular type of hibiscus called Hibiscus sabdarrifa. Precisely, the tea is made out of the dried fruit portion of Roselle. It is red and tastes like berries. The steps involved in the preparation of zobo drinks are not complicated. It is prepared by boiling the dried hibiscus flower for a long time, and the juice is extracted and chilled. Zobo production is common in most parts of Nigeria because of the predominance of the hibiscus plant.
2). Hair Care Products:
Certain hair care products (such as hair oil, conditioners, and shampoos) are made from the hibiscus plant. The oils, shampoos and other hair care products made from the hibiscus plant are in constant demand all over the country because they improve the overall quality of the hair. It is essential for the nourishment of the scalp and hair, removal of dandruff, and for arresting hair fall.
3). Hibiscus For Animal Feed:
The hibiscus leaves and seeds can be used as feeds for animals. They can be either fed fresh or dried. They are used as the sole protein feed for ruminants and as a carotene source for layers (in poultry).
Facts And Benefits of Hibiscus
- Hibiscus is rich in Vitamin C
- Studies show that hibiscus can fight cancer
- The hibiscus plant is best planted between November and April
- Too high temperature can destroy the hibiscus plant.
- Tropical hibiscus prefers warm, steady temperatures to thrive.
- The bright red drink extracted from the hibiscus plant (zobo drink) is consumed as an everyday drink and as refreshment at events.
- The hibiscus plant is naturally utilised for the production of soft drinks and tonic such as wine, juice, jam, jelly, and syrup.
- It is also dried and brewed into tea and spice.
- The fresh leaves and tender stems of hibiscus can be eaten raw.
- Hibiscus plant is known for its antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-parasitic activities.
- There are over 200 species of hibiscus in the world.
- The hibiscus flower is used for decorations.
- All the parts of the hibiscus ranging from the flower to the roots are useful.
- Hibiscus originates from the Greek ‘hibiskos.’
- The red hibiscus is one of the symbols of the Hindu goddess called Kali.
- Hibiscus is predominantly grown in Sudan, China, Egypt, Thailand and Senegal.
- Kano, Katsina, Bauchi, Gombe, Borno, and Jigawa states are areas in Nigeria where hibiscus is mainly grown.
- In many parts of the world, hibiscus is seen as a feminine flower.
- The dried hibiscus is often eaten as desserts, especially in Mexico.
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Types of Hibiscus
There are four main types or species of Hibiscus plants. They are:
1). Hibiscus Sabdariffa:
This specie of hibiscus is commonly known as roselle and is found mainly in West Africa and Sudan. It is highly beneficial and is cultivated primarily in consumption in Nigeria.
2). Hibiscus Rosa-Sinensis:
This type of hibiscus is cultivated mainly in China as an ornamental plant.
3). Hibiscus Syriacus:
This species is native to the Asians, especially South-central and Southeast China.
4). Hibiscus Schizopetalus:
This specie of hibiscus is found in tropical eastern Africa in Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique.
How To Start A Hibiscus Farming Business: Step-By-Step Guide
1). Soil Preparation:
The hibiscus plant thrives well on sandy-loam soil. The pH should be assessed before planting. Hibiscus plants mature better on acidic soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.0.
2). Planting and Propagation:
Hibiscus can be cultivated in two ways: through seed broadcast and stem propagation. For stem propagation, cut the stem of the parent plant about 5 – 6 inches. Liquid fertiliser can be applied underneath the stem to accelerate the establishment, and for proper root formation. The propagated stem would take between 8 to 10 weeks before developing roots. When planting with seeds, the seeds should be soaked in water overnight and then planted in nursery beds of already-prepared pots or containers.
Basically, hibiscus prefers steady moisture and decent sunlight for proper blooming. However, according to the soil condition, there should be an arrangement of watering the plants. In the hot and dry season, hibiscus cultivation demands regular watering. If the top leaves turn yellow or are dropping, it indicates water depletion in the soil.
Hibiscus requires lots of nutrients, depending on the soil condition. Use a high potassium fertiliser for the excellent blooming of the flowers. Moreover, one can apply garden compost or farmyard manure.
Harvesting of the flowers depends on the variety.
Only healthy flowers should be dried. They should be dispersed on a mat or a rack under direct sun rays. Drying can take just a few days, depending on the intensity of heat applied to it. When completely dried, they would diminish and turn brittle. Do not spread the flowers after the evening periods to avoid early morning dews that could get them moist again. Turn or shuffle flowers day-to-day for the total drying of all the flowers.
According to the business plan and objective of farming, find out the feasible demand for the flowers. Before commencing the hibiscus cultivation, the demand and the target consumer of the product must be specified.
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Challenges of Hibiscus Farming in Nigeria
- The difficulties of hibiscus farming include:
- Financial challenges
- Problems of pests and diseases
- Hibiscus is a seasonal plant and is difficult to find at certain times of the year
- Inadequate marketing ideas among dealers in hibiscus
- Highly labour-demanding
- Lack of experience
- Difficulty in securing a suitable planting site
- Low awareness of the potential of hibiscus among farmers
- Limited research and knowledge of the hibiscus plant
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To Sum It Up
Hibiscus farming is a promising business for entrepreneurs in Nigeria. You can start hibiscus farming with pots, containers, open fields, and nurseries. Compared to other flowers, growing Hibiscus is simpler. More so, there is a tremendous profit in hibiscus farming. Since they are perennial crops, they are planted once, left to grow and are harvested over a long duration of time.
The hibiscus farming business in Nigeria can be a lucrative and profitable venture to start-up, due to its vast market demand and on your ability to build a wide supply chain network. If you’re looking for a supply chain business to venture into, the hibiscus farming business in Nigeria is a great option to explore.
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