You might be wondering why you should start cucumber farming in Nigeria. It’s quite simple. The value and importance of agriculture in Nigeria has grown year on year, and currently it is the most profitable and high profile sector in the country.
While there is still a vast sea of opportunities in Nigerian agribusiness, the full potentials have not been fully tapped and optimised, which is also why there is an abundance of opportunities begging to be explored by entrepreneurs just like you.
Cucumber farming in Nigeria is one of those opportunities that are begging to be explored. So, if you too have already realised the potential and importance of cucumber farming, then you are obviously already on the right track.
So yes, cucumber farming is a lucrative business in Nigeria!
Although previous experience is desirable, cucumber farming in Nigeria is not as complex as other areas of agriculture, so you can start small with relatively little or no experience.
With its ease also come its essential requirements. Over 80% of cucumber composition is water. Yes! Water… the need for constant water cannot be underestimated. And for this, irrigation is key. If you don’t have a constant source of water supply, cucumber farming is not for you.
For those who have some farming experience, or are keen to begin on their own initiative, then a formal training program in cucumber farming is not necessarily needed to progress to the next level. In fact, you can start your own cucumber farm without any formal experience in farming or business.
This is why I put together the following essential steps. I want to help you do just that – so follow it to the best of your ability, and don’t delay, start your cucumber farm today!
Health Benefits of Cucumbers:
Apart from the business benefits that we have discussed, cucumbers are said to have the following health benefits: potential antidiabetic, antioxidant activity, cleansing action of toxins and waste, soothing effect against skin irritation, and prevention of constipation.
Here are 10 health benefits of cucumbers in more details.
1. Keeps you hydrated – Cucumbers are 95.2% water, which means that a 5-ounce serving contains 4.8 ounces or 150 ml water. That’s already about 26% of your daily water intake through food.
2. Supports a healthy heart – Cucumbers contain potassium, which helps lower blood pressure. Studies have shown that higher potassium intake is linked with lower rates of stroke and might also reduce the risk of total cardiovascular disease.
Eating cucumbers is an easy way to start increasing your potassium consumption.
3. Protects your brain from neurological diseases – Cucumbers contain an anti-inflammatory substance called fisetin.
It has recently been suggested that fisetin plays an important role in brain health by helping maintain cognitive function in people with Alzheimer’s disease.
4. Protects your skin against aging – Have you ever wondered why cucumbers are used in skin care? It is because they have been proven to be effective as a potential anti-wrinkle agent, protecting our skin from the effects of aging.
5. Relieves pain – Cucumbers contain flavonoids and tannins, which are anti-inflammatory substances that have both been shown to limit the release of free radicals in the body and to reduce pain.
6. Reduces bad breath – Bacteria in the mouth can cause bad breath. Fibre and water-rich vegetables like cucumbers can boost your mouth’s saliva production, which in turn helps wash away the bacteria that cause the odour in the mouth.
7. Protect your bones – Cucumbers are a great source of vitamin K. One cup contains 22% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin K. Vitamin K is essential for bone health, as low vitamin K intakes have been associated with a higher risk of bone fracture, because vitamin K aids the absorption of calcium in the bones.
8. Prevents constipation – Cucumbers are rich in water, and their skin is high in insoluble fibre. Both water and fibre help food to move through the digestive tract quicker and more easily, which helps prevent constipation.
9. Helps you maintain a healthy weight – Cucumbers are very low in calories (16 calories per cup) and they also contain fibre in the skin, which contributes significantly towards a healthy diet.
How to Start Cucumber Farming in Nigeria
Step #1: Conduct a feasibility study
Before you start any business, a thorough background search and a study to determine its feasibility is important, and the same is true for any kind of vegetable farming in Nigeria as well. There are several breeds/varieties of cucumber that are specific and thrive best in a specific regions. Thus, before you start cucumber farming in Nigeria, you need to gather all of the necessary information in order to setup your farm at the right location, right time and the right cost.
Your feasibility study will help you understand the implications of starting your cucumber farm, including the required capital, your competitors and potential customers.
A feasibility study will also help you clearly identify what marketing methods to use to reach and attract customers once your crop is ready for harvest. One of the best things about choosing cucumber farming is that cucumbers can be grown throughout the year, provided you have a sufficient water supply available.
Step #2: Have a well structured business plan
While the average farmer may not pay enough importance to having a viable business plan, you should because it will give your cucumber farm the structure needed to ensure that you generate the profits that you have worked hard for.
A business plan is what you need to run your farm in an organised and structured manner. Also, if you do not have all the capital required to start your cucumber farm, then with a solid and defined business plan, you will be in a better position to attract bank loans, private investors, or even government grants that are becoming widely available.
Even with sufficient capital, investors and extra capital generated through loans will help you set up a mechanised and subsequently more efficient farm.
Step #3: Find a suitable location for your farm
While the basic requirements for setting up a cucumber farm include a sufficient supply of water along with sunshine that is not all you need to take care of. Cucumber best grows in land that has rich and humid soil.
If you are working on a budget and want to save on operational costs, then choosing a farmland in a highly fertile and humid area will help you cut down on the costs. The most ideal situation would be to secure farmland that is close to any waterbed.
The logic here is simple- while you may be able to grow cucumber in an area that has less rain and is far from a river, it will take a lot of resource and time to ensure that your cucumber crop is constantly moist. This will add to the costs that you will incur on irrigation as well as other operational costs.
If you do not have a lot of knowledge about lands, then consulting with an expert before you start your cucumber farm would be wise. Since you are trying to produce cucumber on a commercial scale, it is essential that you cultivate it in the best conditions possible.
Step #4: Land preparation and cucumber planting
Once you have finalised and secured your land, you will need to prepare it before you begin the plantation of cucumber seeds.
Land preparation is arguably the most crucial step in cucumber farming in Nigeria, and it is important that you pay the utmost attention to it. Some things that you must do as a part of preparing the land for the plantation includes:
- Clear all weed and grass competition in the land
- Till the land
- Apply fertilizers to the land, especially if you are not bent on organic farming
- Dig holes in the land, each about 2.5cm in depth for planting the seeds; with a space of 40cm apart to allow for good growth
In order to make it easier for tractors and humans to pass through the land for purposes like watering and harvesting, you can prepare the land in columns and rows.
Types of cucumber seeds to use
The most important factor that will determine the success of your cucumber farm is the seeds that you use. You need to determine the following:
Is it a local or a foreign seed?
Is it an open or a closed seed?
Is it a hybrid or General seed?
Some of the other information that you will find out are are that some seeds can produce 1tonne of cucumber per hectare each harvest; others can produce 500kg, 200kg, even as low as 50kg. And some can produce up to 2-3 tonnes under the same agricultural conditions.
Another role that a seed can play is in deciding how long you can harvest. Some 3-5 times some 5-10times while a select few can go 15-20 times before they wither. (Other factors contribute to how long harvest lasts)
Cucumber seeds are also very responsive to fertilizers, and you can use them together with organic manure. As they grow, you can nip off the tips of the main stems so that branching is encouraged.
From this you can see that the type of seed used is a vital factor in determining the direction of your cucumber farm.
Step #5: Labour
If you are starting small with about one plot of land you can probably handle most of the labour yourself, and only hire people for difficult tasks such as making the beds. This will reduce your costs and increase your profits.
But if you start big or grow your business you will need to hire labour. As a guide, you can expect to pay around N20,000 a month per person.
Labour can sometimes be your biggest challenge so don’t take it lightly. I’ve seen some promising businesses fail because they hired lazy or incompetent labour.
I’ll therefore suggest that you start small and build up your labour force gradually with trusted, hardworking personnel.
Step #6: Irrigation
As I mentioned earlier, over 80% of cucumber composition is water, so the need for constant water is key.
Personally, Securing suitable land and a constant water supply are the most important parts of a successful cucumber farm.
Your constant source of water could be a nearby stream or a sink borehole in the land.
If you don’t have a constant source of water, your cucumber farm will not even survive past the first harvest.
If your plants are not well watered, the primary effect is that the cucumber will taste bitter. Have you ever eaten bitter cucumber before? Let’s just say it’s not very nice, even animals will refuse to eat it. The end result will be that nobody will buy your cucumbers and you can wave goodbye to your profits.
Secondly, the plants won’t last long before they wither and die.
Step #7: Harvesting
Cucumber fruits are harvested before they are mature, which varies between 1 and 2 weeks depending on when they flower. The time of first harvest is around 40 to 60 days after they have been sowed. This again varies as per the climate, and can be done either every other day or after a gap of a few days.
Step #8: Marketing
Like most businesses your initial marketing efforts will be time consuming, but once you have built momentum you will not struggle to sell your cucumbers.
Cucumbers can be sold in retail, wholesale, in a market near you, or in one of the many companies that specialise in cucumber processing. All you need to do is ensure that you cucumbers are green, big, attractive, fresh and juicy, and of a high quality. So ensure that you have put in place high quality regulation for your cucumbers.
Cucumbers are in high demand, and as long as you inform local customers that you have harvested cucumbers from your own farm you will have them queuing to buy them.
I’ve known people that have gradually built up their business and are now making millions, but started out by selling to local offices, schools and churches. They focused on supplying locally because it was low cost and low risk, and locals favoured their business because they knew that they were local.
But as their farms grew bigger they started selling in bulk to market women at a reasonable price. Now, no matter the quantity that they produce, it does not last the next day.
Don’t underestimate the selling power of the local market women. They will struggle and fight for your products if they are of high quality. Selling to them is not as profitable as selling retail but you will sell bigger volumes and the money will come quicker and faster, which is important because one of the most crucial parts of business is cash flow. Your cash flow is vital for daily operations, taxes, purchasing inventory, paying employees and operating costs of your cucumber farm.
With these steps closely followed, sufficient investment and resources, you should be able to realise the huge business potential of cucumber farming in Nigeria within a few months!