Potato farming business is one of lucrative business you can do in Nigeria. Nigeria is one of the highest producers of potatoes in Africa. Nigeria produces 3460000 metric tons of potatoes. Sweet and Irish potatoes refer to the plant itself including the edible tuber. The annual yield of potatoes in Nigeria is up to 843000 tons but the consumption of potatoes in Nigeria is more than 1 million tons.
This means there is a lower production of potatoes inside Nigeria. Some of these potatoes spoil when they are transported and stored. Nigeria exports up to 6000 tons of potatoes on an annual basis and this brings down the number available locally. Potato is the number 4 in the list of the popular crop across the world.
According to potatopro “In December 2015, the Potato Association was successfully registered as a company with the Corporate Affairs Commission. This enabled farmers to enter into formal supply relationships with Shoprite. The farmer groups benefit from this new business linkage by receiving additional revenue of about 65million Naira per annum”.
Let’s look at the brief origin and nutritional value of Potato before I talk about how to Start Potato Farming in Nigeria, planting seasons and market for Potatoes in Nigeria.
Before you jump into Potato farming business; I’ll suggest you read…5 Things to know before starting potatoes farming in Nigeria
Origin of Potatoes
Potatoes first came inside Bolivia and Peru and this was around 5000 and 8000 BC. The crop is indigenous to the people of Chile and Peru. The Spanish brought potatoes to Europe from the Americas and many Europe farmers began to cultivate it. Potatoes do not have much diversity in the 19th century making the crop to become less resistant to disease. China is among the largest producers of potatoes world. Other major countries that produce potatoes are United States, India, Ukraine and Russia. Most of the expansion in production are in Asia.
Nutritional content of potatoes
Potato contains two percent of protein, seventeen percent of carbohydrates, seventy-nine percent of water which is equivalent to 88 percent of starch and some negligible quantities of fat. Raw potato is not consumed raw since they do not undergo efficient digestion in human bodies. Baking potatoes causes decline in vitamin C and vitamin B6. Potatoes have much glycemic index (GI). The glycemic index of potatoes depends on the category of cultivation, conditions of storage and growth and the method of preparation.
Health benefits of potatoes
- Potatoes contain fibres which can reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood.
- They contain potassium and this is associated with a lower pressure of blood.
- Irish potatoes contain fibre, vitamin BC, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin BC.
- Vitamin BC helps the nervous system and brain.
- Vitamin C helps to prevent scurvy or cold.
Read also: Health Benefits of Carrots
How to Start Potatoes Farming business in Nigeria
Here are steps to start commercial potatoes farming in Nigeria;
Put down your Potatoes farming business pan
This is the first steps and this business plan should include the things you need to start your potatoes farming business. Items like cost of land, labour costs, seedlings, fertilizer costs and so on should be part of this business plan.
Select the site for your potatoes farming
Potatoes does well in certain parts of Nigeria like the Southern middle belts and the Eastern parts of the nation. It does not perform well in hot weathers and places where there is insufficient rainfall. Some people may cultivate potatoes in the northern region of Nigeria with irrigation.
Grow your potatoes in places with enough sunlight and you can cut the trees down so that there is access to sunlight. Drain the soil and its PH should be around 6.5 and 5.5. You can cultivate potatoes in different types of soil but the best land for potatoes is the land that have not been farmed for about 2 years.
Prepare the Land
One of the things required for your potato business is good harrowing, ploughing or ridging the land. Land clearing is the first stage and you can clear the land with a cutlass or through burning. The land will perform well when it is properly prepared before planting. You can make use of shovel for the clearing process and hoes for making ridges. The method of cultivating potatoes is not the same with that of yam. Make furrows like that of flower beds before planting.
Select your potatoes seeds
Choose seeds that yield much before you start planting. The variety you choose should be able to resist diseases and mature on time.
How many of the potato species are available? Many of the species are available but the major species are Irish and sweet potatoes. There is much demand for the Irish potato in the Western part of the world due to its medical benefits. A basket of Irish potatoes costs more than sweet potatoes. The 2 species can grow inside Nigeria and they are white or sweet potatoes and the Irish potatoes. Sweet potatoes have a smaller and larger version.
Plant the Potatoes
You can plant with stems. If you plant about 5 seeds and let them grow, you can then use them on an entire plot. It means you cultivate the stems and then plant them later. Fold the stems in a round form and let the bulbs face upwards. The root section should be inside the soil. It is possible to plant it with other crops.
You should not cover the soil initially and you may plant crops like guinea corn and maize. A thousand heaps can make a good start. After 3 weeks of planting go with shovel or so as to cover the vines using sand. Cover the vines with sand again after about 2 weeks. This will increase productivity.
Planting Season of Sweet and Irish Potato in Nigeria
Planting Season of Sweet and Irish Potato in Nigeria is the month of March. Early Month of May and late April is tending towards late planting season of potatoes. Get seeds by dissecting the potatoes and then planting them in pieces. Plant each piece inside a hole in the dry soil using a temperature of up to 7°C. You should allow a few days to let the piece form a layer of protection around themselves. This is useful because it helps them to retain moisture and avoid rotting. The seeds normally planted on ridges for about 15cm from the top soil’s surface. Nevertheless, the planting depends on the category that you are using. Use an irrigation system for very dry soils.
Stages of growth of potatoes
The growth of potatoes have 4 stages and they are:
- Sprouting from seeds and growing of roots.
- Photosynthesis starts as the plant gets branches and leaves.
- Development of stolons from the smaller leaf axils in the stem after which it grows downwards to the ground. This stage is connected with that of flowering. The formation of the tuber stops when the temperature gets to 27°C. Tuber bulking makes the plants to absorb most of the resources inside new tubers.
Factors that affect the yield of potatoes
- Efficient temperature and soil moisture.
- Availability of balance and soil nutrients.
- Pest and disease resistance.
Read also: 5 Factors that Affect Carrot Farming/Production
Irrigate your potatoes farm
Drip irrigation is a preferable irrigation method in the cultivation of potatoes. It aids the provision of moisture for the crop and and the soil. This is useful for the application of the nutrients in the right proportion. You can do watering once in a week. The seeds begin sprouting after 20 days. Fertilizers like the NPK fertilizer help to promote the nutrient quality and enable growth.
Weed and add manure
Weeding should be periodically to ensure the plants have adequate moisture with the nutrients. When you see that the weeds are out, you may begin adding any manure you prefer whether the manure is organic or inorganic. You don’t have to put too much manure if the land is already in order. Locate the area that fertile lands for planting potatoes. Majority of such areas are inside rural areas.
Control Pests and Diseases of Potatoes
Some diseases can affect tomatoes like rhizoctonia, black scurf, potato blight, bacterial soft rot and black leg. The specie of potato seeds affects its resistance to diseases.
Harvesting the potatoes
You can start harvesting between August and September and the potatoes mature in 3 months after you plant them. When you see the foliage turn brown, then begin getting ready for harvesting. You can do your harvest when the soil becomes dry. Remove the potatoes from the soil without damaging or bruising tubers. Make sure that you remove the dirt away from these potatoes as you store them.
Storage and sales of potatoes
You may open an area of the ground that is cool and free from water and add the potatoes inside there. Avoid covering the potatoes using sand. Cover them rather using grasses. The place where you intend to store the potatoes should have dark and proper ventilation with a temperature of between seven and ten degrees. This is equivalent to between 45 and 50°F. The temperatures which are below 4°C converts starch to sugars.
This changes their cooking attributes and taste causing much acrylamide level inside the product. You can store potatoes under optimal states for between 10 and 12 months.
Commercial storage – Commercial storage is done to dry the moisture, heal wounds at between 85% and 95% of temperature and relative humidity. Then the reconditioning, cooling and holding phases follows and this is the stage where they get warm. You can use mechanical ventilation to avoid accumulating carbon dioxide and reduce condensation.
Sweet and Irish Potato Market in Nigeria
There is sweet and Irish potatoes Market in Nigeria and outside Nigeria. Potatoes are consumed in all parts of Nigeria. Go for wholesalers who will buy in bulk and sell to industries and other consumers. Supply to Shoprite, restaurants, eateries etc. Large scale retailers like Shoprite (the largest supermarket in Nigeria) do not need to spend foreign currency on importing potatoes from UK or South Africa. Shoprite intends to buy 100% locally produced potatoes from Nigerian farmers in the medium term
Uses of Sweet and Irish potatoes
Sweet potato is a sauce of materials for making industrial products like liquid glucose, ethanol and starch and can serve as substitute for wheat flour. Many Nigerians eat potatoes in different ways. Some fry it, some boil it and use it as additional food to other dishes.
- Potato flour – This is for baking of bread, biscuits and other applications inside the food industry.
- Potato biofuel – Some scientists from Taiwan have formed a method that lets them covert the potatoes to bio ethanol. This method shows that the use of as energy potatoes will possess cleaner and newer modes of transportation. Potatoes can serve as biofuel since they contain ethanol.
- Potato starch – Potato starch is useful in pig farming and for making noodles.
- Food – Potatoes can be used as food in different ways either when it is cut or in whole, seasoned, peeled and with the skin. The aim of cooking is to swell out the starch granules. Majority of the potatoes are made into potato chips and salads. Nigerians eat much potatoes.
- Breweries – Potatoes can be used by breweries to make alcohol like akvavit, poitin and vodka.
- Fodder – You can use potatoes for fodder. Potatoes are used to feed animals and store them inside bins until you want to use them.
- Binding and thickening – Potato starch can serve as binders and thickeners. These are useful within the textile industry as adhesives and for making boards and papers.
- Curing burns – The skin of potatoes can cure burns
- Export commodity – Nigeria exports potatoes even though it is not sufficient locally.
There is still need for more potato plantations in Nigeria and this makes starting a potato farming business lucrative. You may decide to export your potatoes since many countries are willing to import them to their country.