Vegetable farming is the growing of vegetables for the purpose of consumption by human beings. Initially, humans could only grow vegetables via manual labour, but as civilization came, livestock were domesticated and used to plough the farms, for vegetable plantation. In the recent time, nearly all vegetable farming processes are mechanized (especially in the advanced countries of the world), and specialist farmers tend to cultivate the vegetables and crops that are genetically disposed to doing well in their environment.
In Nigeria, vegetable farming is one aspect of farming with the ability to generate income and profits year round. As it is, vegetable farming is one of the easiest agricultural engagements a farmer can venture into and the demand for edible vegetable is year round, creating a veritable stream of income for the would-be farmer. To so many Nigerians, vegetable is Ugu, tete, bitter leave, efo, ewedu and nothing else. That would be wrong because we have various kinds of vegetables.
We have Leaf vegetables, root vegetables, fruit vegetable, pod vegetables, seed vegetables, flower vegetables and bud vegetables. All these vegetables have their different benefits and nutrients, as well as some common features and nutrients.
A glance look at the list of vegetable would look like the following list and more;
However, one of the most profitable vegetables to farm in Nigeria is ugwu. This is because ugwu is used by majority of the tribes and people of Nigeria in preparing food. Ugwu has a very high demand and it is available all year round. You can easily and quickly setup your own ugwu farm by following the steps outlined in this blog post.
To start your commercial leafy vegetable business in Nigeria; there are certain factors to consider;
- A farmer must consider the fact that most vegetable crops are highly perishable, and he would therefore first need to develop suitable markets for his produce, even before he starts vegetable cultivation.
- Once the market for the produce has been well thought out and developed, a farmer must then embark on proper field selection. When considering sites for the purpose of cultivating vegetables, the farmer must take into consideration field topography, soil type, and water availability and quality. Ugwu is a vegetable mostly grown in the southern part of Nigeria. Based on the topography and elevation of lands in southern Nigeria, ugwu can be planted on either Lowlands or Uplands. Uplands are lands that are at a higher elevation than the alluvial plain or stream terrace. While lowlands are low-lying alluvial land close to rivers and water bodies.
- Another important factor to consider when going into commercial vegetable farming is crop and variety selection. The greatest limiting factor to successful vegetable production from a pest stand-point is the high incidence of disease outbreaks. There is therefore a great need to cultivate mainly disease resisting species, to greatly increase the chance for success.
Start-Up Capital for the Vegetable Farming in Nigeria
The start-up capital required to grow vegetables will depend on the scale of operations envisaged by the farmer. To begin cultivation vegetables on a piece of land that is sized between one and two hectares of land, experts put the start-up capital at between N50,000 and N70,000 depending on your location. This would include payment for seedlings, pesticides, manure and labour.
A major challenge of the vegetable farming profession is closely tied to the first. Preservation is a major problem. One way to avoid glut is preservation in order for vegetables to last for longer. Nigeria however is still struggling with the preservation problem, leading to excess and then waste in glut periods, and scarcity and costliness down the line.
Success tips for Nigerian commercial vegetable farmers
Proximity to city markets is a huge advantage in this business, due to the perishable nature of the product.
Profit minded farmers must target a huge proportion of their production volumes to coincide with the dry season, as income from vegetable sales during the dry season can be up to three times the wet season prices.
Consider using manure, especially poultry manure to improve the vegetable yields. Poultry manure is known to be perfect for vegetables due to its high nutrient content and it is cheaper than fertilizer.
Employ pesticides to overcome pest problems, but be sure to use only safe ones to avoid significant health risks to the consumers and the environment.
Conclusively, Vegetable farming is one of the silent money makers in Nigeria and Farming seems to be one of the ways to revive the Nigerian economy and reduce its dependency on the oil industry. The industry creates instant employment, and can actually produce millionaires and billionaires and owners of farming empires, if given a chance.