How To Start A Lucrative Lettuce Farming Business In Nigeria: The Complete Guide
Lettuce is a highly nutritious crop eaten all over the world. It was initially farmed by ancient Egyptians who grew it as a weed and used the seed for oil production and eventually became a vital food crop raised for its succulent leaves and oil-rich seeds.
In 2013, about 24.9 million tons of lettuce was produced in the world. China accounts for the world’s largest production of lettuce, alone producing about 13.5 million tons.
Today, in terms of production value, lettuce is the leading vegetable crop in the United States with more than 90 per cent of America’s lettuce production being located in California and Arizona.
The world’s production of lettuce for the year 2017 was 27 million tonnes, with 56% still coming from China.
While lettuce can be grown across most states in Nigeria, domestic production remains at less than 1% of the global production rate, which is around 200,000 tonnes.
Nigeria’s lettuce exportation power is currently at a very low value, but many capabilities for growth are paramount.
What Is Lettuce?
Lettuce, Scientifically called Lactuva Sativa, is an annual plant that belongs to the family Asteraceae. It is usually grown for leaves which are eaten often in foods like salads and sandwiches and is also grown for its seed and stem.
What Is Lettuce Farming?
Lettuce farming is the process involved in lettuce cultivation for personal and commercial purposes.
Lettuce was farmed initially by the ancient Egyptians, who began farming it for the seeds which they used to create oil, then it evolved into an important food crop raised for its succulent leaves and oil-rich seeds.
Business Opportunities Available In Lettuce Farming
1). Drug Production:
Lettuce can be used in drug production as it contains a milky fluid secreted by several species of lettuce—called lactucarium—and this has putative sedative and analgesic properties.
2). Juice Production:
Lettuce comes in handy in juice production as it contains liquid nutritional contents which are mostly consumed by gyms and fitness centres.
Salads at home and restaurants are barely complete without a touch of lettuce in them.
Facts And Benefits Of Lettuce Farming
- Specific proteins in lettuce help fight inflammation
- Lettuce aids weight loss
- Lettuce helps fight against cancer
- Lettuce improves skin quality
- Lettuce boosts the metabolism rate
- Lettuce helps in muscle development
- Lettuce enhances hair strength and endurance
- Lettuce maintains a healthy heart
- Lettuce promotes good vision
- Iceberg lettuce takes approximately 85 days from sowing to maturity.
- Lettuce generally lives 65–130 days from planting to harvesting.
- Lettuce is high in vitamin C, which is essential for collagen synthesis and immune health
- Many varieties of lettuce reach maturity in as little as 30 days
- Lettuce aids the creation of red blood cells
Types Of Lettuce
1). Crisphead Lettuce:
This is also known as iceberg or head lettuce and is one of the most widely consumed. It has a similar look to that of cabbage, is an excellent source of folate, vitamin K, and also vitamin A.
The properties of crisphead lettuce are vital for skin, eye, and immunity.
2). Butterhead Lettuce:
Butterhead lettuce is named after its soft, butter-like leaves. Its leaves have a crumpled look bearing a resemblance to that of flower petals. It is also known as cabbage lettuce due to its round shape.
The most common types of butterhead lettuce are Bibb and Boston lettuce.
This lettuce is a good source of antioxidants, such as beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin which protect the eyes from macular degeneration. This condition can result in partial vision loss.
3). Romaine Lettuce:
This is also called Cos lettuce Lactuca sativa. It is a type of lettuce that grows in a tall head of dark green leaves with firm ribs down their centre. Unlike most types of lettuce, it is more tolerant of heat.
Romaine lettuce is a good source of some antioxidants which include phenolic compounds, particularly caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid. These help lower the risk of heart disease, inflammation, and certain cancers.
4). Leaf Lettuce:
Leaf lettuce is also also known as loose-leaf lettuce, varies in shape, colour, and texture, though it’s usually crisp, ruffled, and dark green or red, with a flavour ranging from mild to sweet.
Green leaf lettuce tends to possess more vitamin C, while the red variety offers more vitamin K.
5). Stem Lettuce:
This type of lettuce is commonly called Chinese lettuce, stalk lettuce, or celtuce, and it has a long stalk with narrow leaves. Unlike other classes of lettuce, the stem of this lettuce is eaten, but the leaves are disposed of as they have high latex content which causes bitterness.
The stem lettuce is high in vitamin C, which is essential for collagen synthesis and immune health.
How To Start Lettuce Farming In Nigeria Step By Step Guide
1). Land Preparation:
Clear the land, level the ground, and apply organic manure to enable the lettuce to grow efficiently and in uniformity. The soil should be tilled for better penetration and spacing of 30cm to 40cm for each plant.
Lettuce can be planted either using the seed or using the stem. There should be a spacing of about one foot between the seeds to avoid congestion in the growth process.
Planting lettuce by the stem is another similar process to that of cassava, as the stems are to be cut and not uprooted so as not to affect the root of the already planted half. The lettuce crop should be planted under a shade, as great heat could quickly burn it and affect plant growth.
Transplanting of the lettuce can be carried out when they are large enough to be handled.
Lettuce plant requires enough water to survive. It should be watered every three days, but more often during hot and dry weathers.
4). Pests And Diseases:
Lettuce is easily attacked by pests and diseases even more than other vegetables, therefore, the acquisition and usage of a pesticide beforehand should be done.
It takes about 6-8 weeks for lettuce to mature, and collection should occur early to avoid situations like the lettuce becoming bitter. Collection can be done in various ways; the crop can be cut just above soil level or entirely uprooted or harvesting of the outer leaves, leaving the rest to continue growing.
Lettuce is particularly perishable, compared to many other vegetables. Nevertheless, a longer storage lifetime would be achieved if it is refrigerated, rather than kept at room temperature.
Challenges Of Lettuce Farming In Nigeria
Here are some challenges that can affect starting lettuce farming in Nigeria, Africa, or many other places around the world:
- 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
To Sum It Up
The lettuce 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 lettuce farming business in Nigeria is a great option to explore.
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