Vegetable farming business is one of the lucrative Agricultural businesses that you can start from your backyard. The demand for vegetables is high. Most families in Nigeria consume vegetables through one or two ways and there is still shortage of vegetables in Nigeria. This article is an in-depth guide on how you can start a vegetable farming business in Nigeria.
According to President Muhammadu Buhari, “we ought to have been investing in agriculture. We are now aiming at food security because of our large population. Our youths, the ones who have gone to school and even those that have not, should go to the farm, to earn respect for them. Agriculture is providing jobs for millions of our citizens and we are doing well towards the attainment of food security and jobs.”
Before you jump into starting Vegetable farming, I think you should look at the problems and challenges of Vegetable farming in Nigeria
What Are Vegetables?
Vegetables are plants which serve as food and as part of a diet. It refers to the edible matter that consists of fruits, flours, leaves, stems, seeds and roots. Vegetables consist of many plants like nuts, cereal grains and fruits like courgettes, seeds and potatoes. Grading, processing and storing are next after harvesting of vegetables.
You can eat vegetables raw or heat it for a while. Eating raw vegetables lets you get most of the vitamins and this is when they are still fresh. Overheating vegetables reduce their vitamin content so moderate heating is preferable. Vegetables have much minerals, dietary fibre and vitamins and contain low carbohydrates and fat.
Many of the nutritionists recommend more consumption of vegetables since they are good for health and are very nutritious.
Nutritional Content of Vegetables
Different kinds of vegetables exist and each of them has its own nutritional content. However vegetables possess similar nutrients and their colour varies due to the type of vitamins that are present. The green colour of vegetables shows that they contain vitamin C or B9. Its orange or red colour shows the vegetable have much provitamin A.
Leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, chard and cabbage possess much vitamin B9, provitamin A and vitamin C. They also possess lower energy and the root vegetables like radishes and carrots possess much provitamin A. Vegetables also contain much fibre and have some low calories. Seed vegetables possess much calorie content and have magnesium, fiber and iron. The pods contain much vitamin C, vitamin B9 and fibre having lower fibre content. Vegetables such as bud or flower have low calories but have fibres.
Examples are cauliflower, artichokes and broccoli. Vegetables promote health and should be part of daily meals.
Is Vegetable Farming Business Profitable?
Even though some people overlook vegetable farming business, it is a lucrative business. One good thing about vegetable farming is that a farmer can begin it with little funds. With capital of N5000, you can start the business from the comfort of your backyard. When the farm is properly managed, the profit is usually unimaginable.
Steps To Start Vegetable Business In Nigeria
Here are step by step guide to start vegetable farming business in Nigeria;
- Conduct Market Research
Vegetables grow very fast and are also perishable since they can loose their freshness after some days. So, you have to prepare for the marketing of the vegetable first and market research will help you. You may be selling them to consumers directly or to the middle men.
Consider the market and have an idea of the marketing prospects that will enable you market your crops before they spoil.
You will need between N60000 and N50000 to begin your vegetable farm on a land of 1 or 2 hectares. This depends on the location of the land and covers for manure, pesticides, seedlings, farm implements and labour etc.
However if you want to start this business at your backyard you can start with N5000 or below. This depends on the size of the backyard or farmland.
3. Select the Farmland
The land for vegetables should have some qualities otherwise you will need much land preparation. Factors to consider when selecting land for vegetable farming include;
- Retention capacity
- Water content
- Soil type etc.
Topography refers to physical outlook of that soil like erosion, slope presence, underlying materials or rock presence, tree covers etc.
Factors like this may affect the survival and growth of vegetables. Humus or loam soil is the best category of soil for vegetables and they contain much vegetable. You can augment soil fertility by adding manure especially organic manure. Vegetables also need water and this should be in appropriate quantities.
4. Choose Vegetables to Cultivate
Choose vegetables that are more resistant to diseases and pests. Answer the questions below before choosing the vegetables:
What type of vegetables and what is the amount to produce?
Whom or where do you intend to market these vegetables?
What is the marketing cost and what are the risks
If you are able to answer the above questions then you are good to go. There are different species of vegetables to choose from are below:
Leaf Vegetables are:
- Broccoli (leaves / stalks)
- Grape leaves
Flower vegetables include:
- Broccolini flowers
- Squash blossoms
Some podded vegetables include:
- American groundnut
- Black-eyed pea
Some bulb or stem vegetables include:
Some root and tuberous vegetables include:
English people call it lady’s finger and this is a green pod that is very nutritious. It contains vitamins C, A and K and has some categories of vitamin B complex. Okra also possesses antioxidant and the vegetables can thrive in different categories of soil.
When you slice green seed pods that are edible a substance that is slippery pops out and this makes the soup delicious, tick and smooth. The consumption of okra can help digestion and reduce constipation. Okra soup is a delicious dish and you will find this in many restaurants.
This dish goes with Ugu vegetable and smoked fish. Okra can grow in different kinds of soil.
Cabbage is for preparing salad and is a vegetable. There is exclusion of the outer leaves during consumption while the round head is the one for eating. Nigerians eat cabbage raw and you can also prepare it with many dishes. Cabbage is in higher demand in Nigeria and the price is marketable.
It does not thrive in too much sunlight but rather prefers growing in a cold environment. However, It needs sunlight for about six hours on a daily bases. It grows properly on fertile soil.
This vegetable is popular and you can use it in multiple dishes. Cucumbers can serve as cosmetic/beauty products because it contains hydrogen. It can cure skin infection and this is why many cosmetic companies and beauticians make use of it.
This crop grows properly in soil that is properly drained and also has much organic content. It also possesses much quantity of sunlight and has fewer requirements than other crops.
- Jute Leaf
This is also among the most popular vegetable and is common among the Yorubas. It also has much vitamin A, B, C and B9. It possesses a hardy crop that can grow in diverse conditions. Jute leaf grows in soil with reasonable water supply and organic content. This vegetable is popular among the Yorubas.
A lot of people do not see tomatoes as vegetables but they are vegetables. Tomatoes need warm a fair weather for between 3 at 4 months to produce properly. They need a minimal quantity of water and not waterlogging.
- Fluted Pumpkin
The Igbos calls this Ugu and it is consumed often in Nigeria. 1 acre of land can make beyond N500000 and it takes less than N60000 to farm the land.
5. Planting of the Vegetables
Before planting vegetables ensure that you prepare the land properly and effectively. Clear the land of stumps and debris. The vegetables should have access to water and some degree of sunlight to enable photosynthesis to take place. Do not cluster the vegetables too close to each other and ensure you add manure or compost.
Herbicides and pesticides can help in weeding. Manual weeding is also a recommendation and this can be after a few weeks of planting. Vegetables grow fast and do not compete with weeds for nutrients.
7. Harvesting of The Vegetables
Harvesting the vegetables by cutting out a portion of it and this should be cutting off the root. Since vegetables spoil fast do not start harvesting until you are ready to store or market the vegetables.
Keeping vegetables in a particular place for a long time can result in post harvest losses and this is rampant in Nigeria.
Tips for Harvesting Vegetables
a. Harvest on a daily or weekly basis since this promotes production and this should begin once it is ripe and ready. Pick up the vegetables once they become ripe to give room for more production.
b. Cut the vegetables frequently and ensure that the harvest do not prevent further production. Do not uproot the vegetables during your harvest. Different categories of vegetables have different signs that show they are ripe and ready for harvest.
c. Do not leave the vegetables until they start deteriorating as a result of not harvesting on time.
8. Storage and Preservation of Vegetables
Storing vegetables is vital and will help eliminate post harvest losses in Nigeria. The following methods are for storing vegetables after harvesting:
This is one of the best ways of storing the vegetables since this keeps the vegetable in its fresh state. Refrigeration helps to keep the vegetable in a marketable state until it goes to the market. However this involves constant power supply and adequate space to contain all the vegetables.
Large refrigerators are preferable for storing the vegetables in bulk quantities since small ones will not store them once.
- Rigid containers
Containers like wooden boxes, plastic crates and also fiber board can also store vegetables. Not all containers are suitable for storing vegetables but containers like nestable plastic crates and wooden boxes, and wax coated fiberboard box can store them.
Do not store vegetables in nylon bags or water proof bags since this will make the vegetables spoil fast. If you are not using refrigerators ensure that the containers have spaces for air to enter it since this helps in preservation. Storage of vegetables will reduce post harvest losses and will help economically.
- Preservation of Vegetables
Preservation is one of the challenges facing vegetable farming business in Nigeria and some of these vegetables waste due to preservation factors.
- Vegetable Glut
This refers to the period or time when there is saturation of vegetables in the market until farmers sell at any price just to avoid spoilage.
if you want to start vegetable farming in Nigeria today, consider reading this helpful tips for vegetable farming in Nigeria
Vegetable farming business is one of the lucrative Agricultural businesses you can do in Nigeria and vegetables are in high demand. They are nutritious and are very rich in vitamins. I have shown you how to start vegetable farming in Nigeria; if you are enthusiastic about this business why not start it today.