How To Start Lemon Farming In Nigeria Or Africa: The Complete Guide

How To Start Lemon Farming In Nigeria Or Africa: The Complete Guide | Image Source: Pixabay

Lemons are a global fruit that have made massive impacts in the world through its vast health benefits. According to reports, the worldwide lemon and lime production amount to over 17.22 million metric tons yearly, with Argentina being the world’s leading producer of lemons.

Argentian has the largest lemon cluster in the world, and in 2017, it produced 65% of the fruit from the southern hemisphere (1.3 million tons).

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Nigeria is the top citrus-producing country in Africa, with a yearly growth rate of around 3.3% and a teaming lemon market with millions of buyers. As a result, the lemon (a citrus crop) farming business in the country continues to grow.

With a large local and international demand, the potential for farming, trading, and exporting lemons within and outside Nigeria is growing every day, making starting a lemon farming business in Nigeria a profitable venture to explore.

If you’re looking for how to start lemon farming in Nigeria, read on.

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What Is Lemon?

Lemon is a sour yellow oval citrus fruit with thick skin and fragrance, it is used for many purposes, and the juice is also acidic.

The lemon fruit is a species of a small evergreen tree in the flowering plant family Rutaceae, which is a native to South Asia, initially northeastern India. Its fruits are round in shape.

The origin of the lemon plant is unknown, although lemons are believed to have first grown in a place called Assam (a region in northeast India), northern Burma, or China. A genomic study of the fruit indicated it was a hybrid between bitter orange (sour orange) and citron.


What Is Lemon Farming?

Lemon farming refers to the cultivation of lemons for personal consumption or commercial purposes. 

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Business Opportunities In Lemon Farming

1). Medicine Production: 

The fruit, juice, and peel of lemons are used to make medicine. Lemon is used to treat scurvy, which is a condition caused by not having enough vitamin C in the body. Lemons are also used for the common cold and flu, ringing in the ears, Meniere’s disease, and kidney stones.

2). Cosmetics: 

The purifying virtues of lemons boast significant aesthetic benefits; this is why citrus is often used in natural cosmetics used for the care of the skin of both the face and body.

Due to its natural exfoliating and purifying action, lemon juice contributes to: Lighten spots and imperfections.

3). Food Flavour:

Besides making your mouth watery, the acidity in lemons cut greasiness and heaviness and gives food a fresh, clean taste. Lemon juice can also change a food’s texture to fit a variety of needs.

4). Perfumes And Deodorants:

Lemon juice can, in fact, be useful as a natural deodorant because the citric acid in it kills bacteria and odour.

5). Lemon Flavoured Drinks:

Lemon has a natural flavour which is used in the production of various drinks. Lemon in itself is processed into a juice of its own called lemonade.

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Facts And Benefits Of Lemon Farming

  • Lemon contains more citric acid than other citric fruits.
  • Lemon helps in blood pressure management.
  • Lemon is an evident aid in weight loss.
  • Lemon is high in vitamin C and therefore aids gum health
  • Lemon contains properties that help in teeth cleaning
  • Lemon helps in intestinal cleansing
  • Lemon supports skin health and nourishes it
  • Lemos help in declogging the body passages

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Types Of Lemons

There are two basic types of lemon. They are

  • Sweet lemon
  • Acidic lemon.

All varieties of lemon are grouped into the two above.

Some examples of lemons grouped into the two categories above are:

1). Eureka Lemon: 

The “Eureka” lemon tree is an evergreen that produces pink-fleshed lemons all year. The outer layer of this lemon is yellow with green streaks and mature to a pale yellow when ready for harvest. New growth on the tree is a bronzed purple colour while mature leaves are apple green. The standard Eureka grows to a height of 20 feet, but a smaller dwarf version is available. 

The Eureka lemon tree is considered to be a real lemon tree, as it is not the result of any hybridization.

It requires a climate that gets neither too hot or too cold.

Eureka lemon trees have such high watering needs.

Eureka lemon trees are attractive plants to grow. They don’t have a dormancy period and therefore, can produce fruit all year long. Eureka lemons are among the typical lemons you will find at the grocery store, suitable for cooking with or using in drinks. They are commercially accessible because of their strong flavour and continuous growing season.

2). Lisbon Lemon:

Lisbon lemons are old lemon varieties which are believed to have their origins in Portugal. These trees produce large lemons, have very few seeds, and are exceptionally juicy.

As well as being easy to care for, the Lisbon lemon tree is appealing to sight and smell. It has glossy green leaves, and its white blooms give off a pleasant aroma.

The tree can bear fruit all year round, though the main harvest times will be in the spring and winter when an abundance of fruit is ripe and available. Fruit production for this tree doesn’t begin until year three.

The Lisbon lemon tree is capable of growing quite tall in the right conditions, growing up to 30 feet in height, with a spread of 25 feet.

The Lisbon lemon tree is easy to care for and is tolerant of heat, wind, and cold. It is one of the most cold-enduring of all real lemon trees.

3). Meyer Lemon:

This type of lemon is a crossbreed between lemon and mandarin; it has its origins from China. It grows between 6 to 10 feet making it one of the smallest lemon trees.

The fruit of this tree looks like lime when young, rounder than true lemons and with a lime green skin. As the lemon ripens, it takes on the typical yellow shade, with a strong fragrance and thin skin. These lemons have a more subtle flavour than the Eureka or Lisbon lemons, which are widely available in grocery stores. Instead, they have a sweeter taste, with dark yellow flesh and usually around 10 seeds.

The Meyer lemon tree is capable of bearing fruit from just 2 years of age when grafted or from 4 years old when grown from seed. The flowers it produces are white and purple, with a very intense scent.

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How To Start Lemon Farming In Nigeria: Step By Step Guide

1). Plant Variety:

The first step is to determine which variety of lemon you want to plant. It could either be a species within the sweet or bitter lemons, but must be a lemon type that you’d be able to easily market.

2). Site Selection & Land Preparation:

While lemon trees can grow in nearly any soil type with good drainage, they grow best in loamy or sandy loam soils. Lemons also prefer soil pH levels between 5.5 and 6.5.

Foreign plan matter should first be cleared from the farmland, after which the land should be tilled to aid plant growth, prevent unnecessary plant competition, and congestion.

Citrus trees thrive on well-drained soils. Therefore you should avoid water-logged areas. While some water-logged areas are visually evident, others are not.

But before the lemons are planted on the farmland, they must first be planted in a pot.

4). Planting:

Lemon trees should be planted in a sunny and wind-protected environment.

  1. First moisten the soil in a pot so that it is damp
  2. Cut open the lemon and bring out a seed.
  3. While the seed is still moist, plant it in the soil about half an inch deep.
  4. Ensure you planted in a warm, sunny location.
  5. Water occasionally and don’t allow the soil to dry out.
  6. When two weeks have passed and the sprouting emerges, If you need to get more light for your lemon plant to supplement the sun’s light.
  7. Take care of the plant to ensure it is not raved by pests or diseases.
  8. When the plant has outgrown the pot, you transplant until you can eventually transplant a grown plant on the farmland itself.

5) Harvesting:

Lemons are ready for harvest. when they are firm and yellow or yellow-green in appearance. The fruit will usually be between 2 to 3 inches in size. So it’s always best to wait till they are the right size and are completely yellow.

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Challenges Of Lemon Farming In Nigeria

Here are some challenges that can affect starting lemon farming in Nigeria, Africa, or many other places around the world:

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  • Pest and diseases
  • Lack of government support
  • Lack of funding for large scale production
  • Lack of a highly favourable market
  • Lack of highly equipped storage facilities 
  • Lack of efficient production mechanisms
  • Not popularly known
  • Absence of a vast ready market
  • Poor funding of research activities
  • Bush burning
  • Lack of capital for large scale production
  • Lack of easy access to the international market
  • Instability of the international market price
  • Lack of adequate widespread knowledge on how to produce high-quality products
  • Lack of funds to import international standard processing machinery
  • Thieves and criminals

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To Sum It Up

Lemons have a high market value due to its nutritional and economic benefits. They are rich sources of vitamin C and improves the immune system. They can also be used for the production of lemonades as well as marmalade, and its vast uses pose no doubt that it is a vast business to setup.

The lemon farming business in Nigeria can be a lucrative and profitable venture to start-up, due to its vast market demand and on your own ability to build a wide supply chain network. If you’re looking for a farming business to venture into, the lemon farming business in Nigeria is a great option to explore.

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