How To Start A Lucrative Rubber Farming Business In Nigeria: The Complete Guide
Prior to the oil boom, Nigeria was a leading exporter of three major cash crops namely palm oil, groundnuts, and rubber, these contributed largely to our Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However today, these cash crops contribute only a very little fraction of the economy.
Natural rubber plantations used to be the fourth highest foreign import generator, before its neglect by the successive Nigerian government led to its very low production.
The country’s total dependence on crude oil has made the rubber industry look unlucrative. Most rubber plantations still existing in the southwest were planted in the ’80s, and research institute set up to develop hybrid rubber seeds for farmers have also been long shut due to lack of funding and negligence.
Nigeria’s annual rubber industry capacity has fallen from well above 130,000 metric tonnes per annum to around 55,000 metric tonnes, largely based on the failure to repair or change old worn-out plants and establish new ones.
Despite rubber being one of the most demanded products in every industry, the rubber crop has almost gone extinct in Nigeria as a result of negligence on the part of the government and investors.
With a huge global demand, venturing into Rubber Farming in Nigeria is a great opportunity to explore.
What Is Rubber?
Natural rubber is raw material gotten from the sap of the rubber tree which grows in the tropical parts of the world. They are made from polymers of the organic compound isoprene.
The sap is called “latex” and they are collected by making a long cut through the bark. This latex is a white liquid. The sap runs down the cut and is collected in a pot strapped to the tree trunk, they are then dried and ran between rollers to form Rubber sheets.
What Is Rubber Farming In Nigeria About?
Rubber farming is the process of cultivating a rubber plantation from the planting of the rubber trees to the nurturing of the trees, and finally harvesting the rubber latex.
Business Opportunities In Rubber Farming
Rubber remains a substance that has inexhaustible uses, therefore, leading to many business opportunities for entrepreneurs to exploit, some of which are explained below;
1). Shoe Making:
Rubber serves as an alternative material for leather in shoe production and rubber is used mainly for the production of the soles of shoes.
2). Car manufacturing:
Rubber is an important tool in car manufacturing plants, as it is used in the production of most parts of the car.
3). Plumbing Services:
Most of the pipes and equipment used for plumbing are made from rubber.
4). Production Of Electricity wires:
Most electricity wires are coated with rubber.
Facts And Benefits Of Rubber
- About 23 million tons of natural rubber is produced and processed worldwide. About 60% of that amount is synthetic rubber.
- It takes six years before rubber trees can produce sap, after which then can produce for about 28 years. A typical tree can produce 19 pounds of rubber each year.
- Reproduction in rubber trees takes place when the fruit of the tree ripens and bursts open, leaving seeds scattered in a 100-foot radius from the tree.
- Rubber Trees do not tend to fair well close to sidewalks and homes because of their large and powerful roots. The roots have been known to damage sidewalks and water lines.
- The leaves of the Rubber Trees are glossy, oval-shaped and dark green. They can grow to be 14 inches long and up to 6 inches wide.
- The rubber tree isn’t the only plant to produce latex sap. Dandelions, for example, have been found to emit this sticky substance and are currently being considered as an alternative, sustainable source for rubber production.
- The first rubber factory was established in Paris in 1803
- The tyre manufacturing industry is one of the biggest consumers of rubber today.
- Rubber latex is white, but a black carbon filler is added to tyres to give them their black colour.
- Statistics show that around 33 billion pounds of rubber are produced each year.
- More than 40,000 everyday items are made from rubber.
- You can earn anywhere from 20% to sometimes over 100% profit margins, trading rubber locally and internationally
- Rubber farming in Nigeria can be a great source of employment once the trees start producing the milky latex
Types Of Rubber Trees
Hevea brasiliensis, also known as the Pará rubber tree, sharinga tree, or, most commonly called, the rubber tree or rubber plant, is a flowering plant belonging to the spurge family Euphorbiaceae. It is the most economically important member of the genus Hevea because the milky latex extracted from the tree is the primary source of natural rubber.
How To Start Rubber Farming In Nigeria: Step By Step Guide
1). Site Selection:
Rubbers trees don’t fare well close to homes because of how far their roots can grow, and so, it is important to find a site that’s far from residential areas and still have a great soil type for the trees.
1). Land Preparation:
First, a proper clearing of the field is necessary and demands the use of tractors at commercial levels.
A well-planned network of roads and footpaths is also important for the easy transportation of inputs to the various fields, latex to the factory, and the efficient supervision of field operations.
Rubber germinates from seeds which you can first raise on the nursery bed. For germination, raise a nursery bed 5 cm thick layer of sand. Additionally, you must provide partial shade to prevent excessive sunlight. Germination starts 6 to 7 days after planting.
3). Weed Control:
During the early age of the rubber plant, it is of utmost importance that the area land surface is weeded consistently to give the plants the opportunity to grow effectively.
Weed control should be done manually, but can also be done with the use of herbicides.
4). Tapping And Harvesting
It takes 5-6 years for the rubber tree to start producing, after which it produces for about 35-40 years
The rubber plants shed their leaves around December and then replacing them almost immediately. and so, this, not the most effective time to start tapping as the yield would not be substantial.
Tapping is most productive during the morning hours say 5-6 am, as it is at this time that the latex comes out faster due to the weather.
Tapping is a process of controlled wounding during which thin shavings of bark is removed. The aim of tapping is to cut open the latex vessels in the case of trees tapped for the first time or to remove the coagulum which blocks the cut ends of the latex vessels in the case of trees under regular tapping.
Challenges of Rubber Farming In Nigeria
- Poor funding of research activities
- Pest and diseases
- Bush burning
- It is a seasonal business as the cashew nuts are only gathered during a season once a year. So production cannot happen all year round.
- Lack of highly efficient storage facilities for the unprocessed nuts
- Lack of capital for large scale production
- Lack of easy access to the international market by most cashew nuts farmers in Nigeria
- Instability of the international market price of Cashew Nuts
- Lack of adequate government assistance
- Lack of adequate widespread knowledge on how to produce high-quality Cashew Nuts In Nigeria
- Lack of funds to import international standard Cashew Nuts processing machinery into Nigeria
- Thieves and criminals
Rubber remains one of the most demanded products in the world as there is almost no industry that can function without rubber. Rubber farming is one of the most neglected agricultural businesses in Nigeria, giving a large opportunity to investors interested in starting rubber farming in Nigeria.
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