How To Start A Successful Cucumber Business In Nigeria (2020).
Cucumber farming business is one of the most lucrative agribusinesses to venture into in Nigeria.
Farming of cucumbers was most prevalent in the Nothern region, but presently, the Southerners have started embarking on it.
It is one of the untapped agribusinesses ideas in Nigeria, hence you won’t have to question the profitability. Cucumbers also very nutritious, being a very good protein, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, fibre, potassium and many others.
They may also help in weight loss and lowering of the blood sugar level.
Not forgetting to mention the role cucumbers play in our skins. According to HealthlLne.com, cucumbers also help in combating premature ageing.
How Profitable Is Cucumber farming Business?
One very important thing every good farmer should put into consideration before embarking on a business idea is the profitability of the venture. When talking about cucumbers, you’d observe the high rate of consumption and low competition among other farmers.
As the days go by, more and more individuals are realising the very many health benefits of the cucumbers, and the demand for the green fruits are on the increase.
They’re not only useful in controlling weight, but also help the body cells in combating diseases. Intake of cucumbers also helps the skin in fighting the effects of ageing, while supporting the digestive system.
These factors explain better on why the green fruits are in high demands among consumers. It also means that entrepreneurs have a lot to gain from investing in the cucumber business in Nigeria.
How To Start A Lucrative Cucumber Farming Business In Nigeria
Like the maize farming business, cucumbers don’t require any special farming skills. They are also a high-yielding, but low-maintenance plants. But as with every plant, they require that you follow good farming practices for better produces.
Below are some steps involved in starting a cucumber farming business in Nigeria:
- Land preparation
Cucumbers do quite well on fertile and organically enriched soils. They need sufficient sunlight, water and the best soil conditions for bountiful harvests.
One factor you should put into consideration when buying or leasing a farmland for cucumber farming is the availability of water. Cucumbers are composed of 90% water, so you can’t only depend on rainfall as the source of water. You should endeavour to source for alternative sources of irrigation.
If possible, site you’re farmland close to a waterbed. If you’re unable to do that, you can consider sinking borehole, constructing an irrigation dam or digging a water-well.
The next in line after choosing the farmland is to proceed with the land preparation activities like clearing, ridging and fertilizer application.
- Land preparation
Land preparation starts with the removal of shrubs and stumps from the farmland. It is important to ensure that the choice farmland is ready for planting.
It typically involves the following steps:
- Ploughing to “till” or dig-up, mix, and overturn the soil
- Harrowing to break the soil clods into smaller mass and incorporate plant residue, and
- Levelling the field.
While weeding the farmland, ensure you don’t make use of herbicides as they contain chemicals that can affect the quality of the soil and crop yield.
- Seed planting
Another important thing that will affect your productivity is the variety of seeds you plant. There are so many different varieties of cucumbers and your choice will determine your harvest.
Below are some important questions you need to ask when buying cucumber seeds:
- Is it an open or a closed seed?
- Is it a local or a foreign seed?
- Are the seeds general or hybrid?
Seeds from America and Europe are not suitable for the Nigerian climate. You can, however, import from Thailand, since they share almost similar climates with Nigeria.
Planting of the cucumber seeds can be done at any time of the year. As I earlier stated, the plants need adequate water supply to thrive, so if you’d be doing the planting during the dry season, ensure you prepare for that. You can plant on the beds to ensure the right spacing between the plants.
In most cases, you can decide to first plant the seeds in a nursery before transplanting to the farmland. However, due to the fragile nature of the cucumber root, I’d recommend you plant them directly to the farmland since transplanting could cause some damages to the root.
While planting, follow the below guidelines:
- The seeds should be slightly pushed into the bed at about 1 to 2 cm from the soil surface
- Spacing between the plants should be about 1 foot apart while the spacing between rows should be about 4 to 6 feet
- 3 seeds should be planted per hole; however, once the seeds germinate, you can thin the plants to 2
- Post planting
After planting the seeds, ensure you support the growing plant with stakes or pillars. As you know, cucumber plants are climbers by nature and require necessary support for optimal growth.
Mulching involves applying some material to the surface of the soil to serve a certain purpose.
It serves different purposes, including:
- It helps in retaining the soil moisture by preventing water evaporation especially during the dry season
- Mulching also helps in keeping the soil temperature cooler,
- It is also useful in suppressing/reducing the growth of weeds, and lastly
- You can also carry out mulching for a decorative purpose
Water system is the way toward applying controlled measures of water to plants at required stretches. It doesn’t only help in growing the cucumber plants, it also increases the effectiveness of herbicides used in weed control.
Irrigation of the cucumber crops is particularly very important during fruit development. For increased yield, the plants should be watered daily ounces the seedlings begin to sprout.
Weeding and fertiliser application
Weeding of the cucumber can be done after 20-30 days of planting the seeds. Application of fertilisers should be carried out every two weeks. Cucumbers need an adequate supply of nitrogen to grow optimally, so the application of inorganic fertilisers will help supply the required amount of nitrogen.
Pest and disease control
Pests that will affect your crops include beetles, ladybird, grasshoppers and spider mites. The insects can be controlled with the use of insecticides. You can spray the insecticides at regular intervals to control the pest.
Diseases that might affect the cucumbers include mildew, mosaic disease, damping off and anthracnose. As a way of preventing the disease, I’d recommend you plant seeds already treated with a fungicide. In the case of mildew and leaf spot diseases, apply the fungicides once you notice any sign of the disease.
Livestock like goats and cows that feed on leaves and fruits might also affect the cucumber, so you should map out ways of preventing them from entering the farmland.
Cucumbers need a long growing season and are ready for harvest in 50 to 70 days. Cucumbers should be harvested at the right time before they start having bitter tastes. The fruits ripen at different times on the vine, so it is essential to pick them as they are ready.
Unlike other crops, cucumbers don’t ripen after being harvested. You can identify the ripe cucumbers with their firm and greenish flesh.
The exact size of the fruit depends on its variety and use. Pickling fruits are best at 6 inches (15 cm.). Slicing cucumbers maybe two to six inches (5-15 cm.) long and the “burpless” varieties are best harvested at 1 to 1 ½ inch (2.5-3.8 cm.) in diameter.
When harvesting, you can make use of garden shears or pruners. Cut the stem ¼ inch (6 mm.) above the fruit, leaving a short stub attached. I always recommend removing the fruit with a sharp implement, as this will prevent injury to the vine by twisting or pulling.
While cucumbers are best eaten fresh, you can store them in the crisper for up to three days. The fruits can be placed in loose plastic or perforated bags. While storing the fruits, avoid stacking them and also prevent them from smashing against the side of the crisper drawer.
Commercial farmers use wax coatings when storing the fruits to prevent loss of moisture. The cucumbers should be stored at room temperature, not in the refrigerator.
About the marketing, you should contact buyers of the fruits before they reach picking size. Due to the nature of the fruits, it is not recommended that you keep them for too long.