How to Start Commercial Vegetable Farming in Nigeria / Vegetable Business Plan
Commercial Vegetable Farming in Nigeria – Not all businesses require buying and selling, vegetable farming is arguably one of the most lucrative businesses in Nigeria, regardless of how you see it. Vegetables are a major aspect of virtually every soup in all the different tribes of the country, they are also seen as major condiments used in preparing both local and continental dishes. Mostly, farming is associated with unsuccessful, illiterate and poor individuals, overtime, this has proved to be a wrong notion as most farmers today are the direct opposite. If you must knowing, farming is a honorable occupation with great prospect for the future. By now you have noticed that several economies are seeking ways to return to agriculture as their main stay, Nigeria inclusive.
Vegetable farming happens to be one of the easiest forms of agriculture to engage in as it requires little or no expertise just a willingness to be involved and an ability to learn fast on the job.
Nutritional Benefits of Vegetables
There are several kinds of vegetables and each of these different kinds possess their unique nutritional values, even though they all have certain nutrients present in all of them. Several people are in a grey area about the fact that the different colors on different vegetables are existent because of the predominant vitamins present in such vegetable. Greenish color in vegetables signifies that they are rich in vitamin B9 or vitamin C, while red or orange color signifies abundance of Pro-vitamin A. Leafy vegetables like spinach, lettuce, cabbage, chard are known to contain high levels of vitamin B9 as well as vitamin C and Pro-vitamin A, even though they have low energy content. Root vegetables on the other hand, like carrots and radishes carry large amounts of Pro-vitamin A, they also rich in fiber content and they possess very low calorie content. Seed vegetables are high in calorie content but are very rich in iron, magnesium and fiber content, while pods are rich in fiber content, vitamin B9 and vitamin C with low calorie content. Other vegetables like flower or bud vegetables are equally low in calories but are fibrous in nature, examples of these are broccoli, artichokes, cauliflower, etc.
Observing the nutrient content of vegetables, it is little wonder that they are major part of virtually every meal. It is evident that one of the major ingredients one can consume to stay healthy is vegetables, and that should be done frequently.
How Profitable is Vegetable Farming in Nigeria
Vegetable farming even though it is really overlooked in this part of the world and seen as an occupation for the non-elite, is quite lucrative and highly rewarding when it comes to profit yield. The reason for this being that the farmer can start with the lowest of incomes and with diligence and consistent hard work and innovation build on this to turn it to a mega business. For example, I met a farmer who started a small jute (ewedu) farm at her backyard by buying seeds of less than a thousand naira (#1,000), yes you read that right, a thousand naira, in a few weeks she was making about two thousand naira from the farm every few days. She did this without any special effort, just cultivating her backyard, planting the seeds and watching them grow, then getting a few customers to patronize her. Did I forget to state that vegetables grow really fast, as long as the soil and all other parameters are conducive, you can be sure to always have great turnover. Presently in Nigeria, there are over 30 million families, each of these families consume vegetables one way or another every week, business intelligence tells us that we are at a shortage of vegetable farmers to satisfy this growing demand for vegetables.
How to Start a Vegetable Farm in Nigeria
I am sure by now you must be wondering how you can start your own vegetable farm. Friend, it is really not difficult to farm vegetables, it is one of the easiest forms of agriculture there is till date as it requires little effort and capital. Most species of vegetables can do well on their own and can keep propagating even after harvest without replanting. Here are a few steps however you should consider when starting your farm:
- Develop your market. I am sure you must be wondering why this is the first step, because usually, you create the product before looking for where to sell it. In the case of vegetable it is quite different, this is because vegetables grow very fast and at the same time are highly perishable food crops, which means they get spoilt very easily. It is therefore important that the farmer seeks out people he is intending to sell to before production. He needs to decide whether he wants to sell to middlemen or directly to the end consumer, if he is selling to middlemen, he should seek them out and strike a deal with them. On the other hand, if he wants to sell to the consumer directly, he should put into consideration a market that will ease the sale of his crops fast enough before they start to spoil.
- Startup capital. Just like most businesses, the capital required to begin vegetable farming is largely dependent on the scale the farmer wants to operate. In Nigeria today, it is estimated that you need between #50,000 and #60,000 to start a vegetable farm on an expanse land of about one or two hectares, depending on your location. This amount of money covers major inputs like seedlings, labor, manure, pesticides, farm implements, etc. But a farmer that wants to start on a small scale, probably at his backyard, will just be needing #5,000 or less, far less in fact, depending on the size of the yard.
- Site selection. It is imperative that the farmer takes proper care in studying the land he wants to use to cultivate, especially if he has an intention of going beyond backyard vegetable production. Several soil attributes like the topography, water content and retention capacity, soil type, etc. should be studied intently before delving into production.
The topography deals basically with the physical outlook of the soil such as the presence of slope, how prone the soil is to erosion, presence of rocks or other underlying materials, presence of tree cover, etc. These can in one way or the other affect the growth rate and survival of the vegetables.
The best soil type for vegetables is loam soil or humus soil as they contain high amounts of nutrients needed by the vegetables for quick growth. However, the soil can be augmented by the addition of manure (most advisably organic manure). Vegetables also need considerable amount of water, the site chosen must be one that has access to water, though the water retention must be average as too much water could lead to erosion and consequent loss of the crops.
- What kind of vegetable to invest in. This is one of the most important factors to consider and a prior feasibility study will help the farmer answer this question. There is a plethora of vegetables that the farmer can invest in but he must put into consideration his ready market, his resources and most of all the kind of diseases that affect vegetables in his environment. Vegetables are highly susceptible to pest and disease outbreaks, if you remember in Nigeria some years back there was scarcity of tomatoes caused by tomato blight attack on farms in the north, the major supplier of tomatoes to the rest of the country. The farmer must consider which vegetables are most resistant to the prevalent pests and diseases in his location and invest in such, except if he is ready to spend heavily in trying to combat such pests and diseases.
Once all these are sorted out, you are ready to start your farm, wait a while and start making tremendous profit.
Common Names of Vegetables in Nigeria
There are scores of vegetable species cultivated in different parts of Nigeria, on subsistence and commercial levels as people are gradually coming to the realization that vegetable farming is very lucrative and it requires very little capital. Some of the most common vegetables farmed in Nigeria are briefly enumerated below:
Fluted Pumpkin. This is statistically the most consumed leaf vegetable in Nigeria as several tribes use it as a major part of most meals. It is popularly known as Ugwu leaf and it is loved not just for it rich nutrient when cooked but also its blood enhancing abilities when consumed raw. It has a high tolerance for drought and can grow even on the poorest of soils, it can thus be cultivated in any part of the country.
Okra. It is known as lady’s finger in most English speaking countries, it is a green pod vegetable known for its high nutrient content. It is rich in Vitamins A, C, K, and some varieties of vitamin B complex. It is also well known for its antioxidant properties, okra is a hardy vegetable that can withstand almost any kind of soil.
Cabbage. This is a very popular vegetable in Nigeria, used as the major condiment for salad and coleslaw. Unlike other vegetables, it is quite expensive because it requires a lot more input in the production process. Cabbage thrives better in cold climate, requiring about 6 hours of sunlight daily and a well-drained and properly fertilized soil.
Cucumbers. A very popular vegetable in Nigeria as it is used for a variety of dishes. It is also used as a beauty/cosmetic product as its hydrogen content which is very similar to that of the human skin, makes it suitable for the curing of skin related problems. For this purpose, it is in high demand by cosmetic companies as well as beauticians. It grows on a well-drained soil which is rich in organic content, it also requires a substantial amount of daily sunlight. Other than these, it is relatively easy to cultivate.
Jute leaf. This is the most popular vegetable among the Yoruba tribe of the western part of Nigeria. It is rich in vitamin B9, A and C. It is also a hardy crop which grows in almost any condition, however for optimal results it is best to grow it on a soil rich in organic content and average water supply.
Tomatoes. This is the most popular vegetable in Nigeria, even though most people do not even recognize that tomatoes are vegetables. There is scarcely any meal that does not required tomatoes as part of the recipe. Tomatoes require fair, warm weather for a period of about 3 to 4 months to produce optimally. They also require minimal water, so the farm needs not be water logged at any point.
Asides these vegetables, there are several others to choose from to start your farm, one good business ethic is, think out of the box, do not do what everyone is doing but create a niche for yourself.
Challenges of Vegetable Farming in Nigeria
Vegetable farming like any other venture engaged in by man, has its own peculiar challenges. The major challenge is vegetable glut which is simply a period where the market is saturated with vegetables to a point where the prices are at a major dip. This leads to farmers selling their goods at ridiculously low prices just to let them go and avoid spoilage.
Another major challenge faced by vegetable farmers in Nigeria is preservation. This is closely related to the vegetable glut problem, if there was a way to properly preserve the vegetables, the farmer will not need to sell ridiculously, all he needs to do is preserve the goods till when he can sell. This challenge has to a large extent been overcome in most developed countries but still lingers in third world countries till date.
TIPS FOR NIGERIAN VEGETABLE FARMERS
Below are a few success tips for vegetable farmers in Nigeria.
- Make good targets, sell beyond the farm. Do not just restrict yourself to middlemen but look for your own market. Restaurants, supermarkets, caterers, etc. could be very good targets as they will always be in need of your product.
- Use organic manure, especially poultry manure to boost your vegetables. They make them grow faster and look more attractive.
- Be close to your market. In siting your farm, look for a place not too far from your proposed market, or at least has unhindered accessibility to the market. It is an added advantage.
- Use pesticides when necessary.
Order for our sample Vegetable farming business plan in Nigeria. Here is the table of contents for our business plan
1.0 Executive Summary (These includes: Objectives, Mission, Keys to Success).
2.0 Company Summary and Ownership.
4.0 Market Analysis Summary (These include: Market Segmentation, Target Market Segment Strategy, Industry Analysis, Competition and Buying Patterns).
5.0 Strategy and Implementation Summary (These include: SWOT Analysis, Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats, Competitive Edge, Marketing Strategy, Sales Strategy and Milestones with chart).
6.0 Management Summary and personnel plan.
7.0 Financial Plan (These include: Start-up Funding, Break-even Analysis, Projected Profit and Loss, Projected Cash Flow and Projected Balance Sheet).
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