Cucumber, also known as cucumis sativus is a plant that is widely recognized all over the world. The plant is a vine that creeps and in due time, bears fruits that are used and eaten as vegetables. As much as it is recognized and appreciated world-wide, it is even more highly demanded in Nigeria and just as much, consumed. There are so many lucrative businesses in the agricultural sector such as fish farming, snail farming, poultry farming, and cucumber farming.
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In this post, we will explore the area of cucumber farming in Nigeria, what it entails, how to grow cucumbers and its impact on the Nigerian agricultural sector. We will also answer the “age-old question”; “can cucumber make me rich?”. Hopefully, by the end of this post, we would have inspired a few future cucumber farmers and probably cleared some doubts faced by current cucumber farmers.
What is cucumber farming?
This is the process of growing and conditioning cucumber in large quantities for sale. This style of farming can be carried out alongside other crops or on its own. Due to their chemical and biological build-up, cucumbers are best planted in warm weathers between the months of March and June; this is the best period to plant cucumbers as a farmer. There is a myriad of options for cucumber farmers in Nigeria, as the Nations’ diversity and food variety allow for this vegetable to be consumed in all parts of the country.
Why is it important to produce cucumber today?
The answer to the question; “what is the importance of cucumber”, is embedded in the answer to the question; “what is the importance of cucumber farming?”. There are tons of benefits to having cucumbers around us and this can be seen in the benefits they bring to the human body system. They are also used by pharmaceuticals and cosmetic companies for producing creams and some drugs. Here are a few benefits of cucumbers to the human body;
- It aids in hydrating the body and also in removing bodily toxins, boosting your immune system and bodily functions.
- It helps in repelling bad breath by releasing phytochemicals, responsible for fighting off the bacteria and microorganisms usually associated with bad breath.
- While it is not solely responsible for weight loss as many people seem to think, the vegetable definitely plays a considerable role in curbing weight gain.
- The vegetable has been discovered to possess some compounds, which are anti-cancerous by nature. In other words, cucumbers reduce the risk of cancer in people.
- Smoothens and freshens up the skin; based on its organic contents, cucumber consumption has helped a lot of people in maintaining pristine skin conditions. Because of this, it is highly sorted after by pharmaceuticals.
- By consuming cucumber every day, research has shown that there is a reduced risk of getting kidney diseases and it even helps in dissolving kidney stones.
- Cucumber is proven to possess the right constituents for curing diabetes and regulating blood pressure. It, in fact, houses a natural hormone that stimulates the production of insulin by the pancreas.
With all these special attributes, medicinal qualities and beauty benefits of cucumber, it is little wonder why it is highly consumed and in demand in Nigeria.
What does it take to be a cucumber farmer today in Nigeria?
Just like many agricultural-based businesses, cucumber farming in Nigeria costs little to start up, and even lesser to run. With the right amount of resources and capital, ranging from N100,000 to N500,000, the average cucumber farmer can earn a quarterly profit of three to four times the amount of money invested. The most important thing needed to ensure production is land. At least half an acre or even a plot of land will go a long way to rewarding you with an ample amount of harvests that will yield favorable profits.
So, what are the things to consider when venturing into cucumber farming? Here are some of the things to consider.
- Location, Location, Location: Site selection is the first thing that comes to mind when venturing into any agricultural business, and cucumber farming is not an exemption. And while Nigeria may be blessed with the right soil and climate to grow cucumber, it goes without saying that there are parts of the country where the lands are more fertile for cucumber farming. It would be wise for any startup cucumber farmer to make the appropriate research on these, so as to get a land that will boost production.
- Land grooming: also known as land preparation, simply refers to the clearing and grooming of land, in preparation for planting. In this stage, there will be a need to procure the use of herbicides and the right chemicals which could aid in boosting soil fertility.
- Selection of seeds and seedlings: As this implies, this is simply sourcing for cucumber seeds to plant on your farm. Note that seeds from places like the USA or Europe will find it hard to thrive in Nigeria as the country’s climate is vastly different from their places of origin. To ensure that you get the right seeds, you can always make inquiries with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA to get more information or even make orders for seeds.
- Planting and Post Planting: While cucumber can be planted during any time of the annual cycle or year, one thing that is needed most is water. Hence, it is wiser to plant during the rainy seasons, but if you should for any reason plant during the dry seasons, you will have to ensure that you have a close to perfect irrigation system in place, so as to ensure that the plants receive an adequate amount of water for proper development.
As far as post planting goes, cultivation activities such as weeding or mulching should be carried out at proper intervals, with weeding taking place at least 25 to 30 days after planting.
Mildew, Mosaic, and damping-off are a few of the plethora of diseases that affect cucumbers. It is important that you keep a close eye on your farm.
- Harvesting: it is important that the farmer harvests the cucumber while it is yet to ripen (still green and hard). It will be bad to wait for it to ripen before harvesting as it could lead to rotting. Normally, it takes about 40 -45 days for it to mature. Avoid high impact damages of the cucumber or dropping it as it could lead to internal swelling. Wash quickly as it is harvested and neatly arrange them in a bag for sale.
- Marketing: This is the final and most important stage in your business as it is expected of you to already prepare a logistic system that would allow you to easily transport your goods to the market place. A close and favorable market combined with plentiful harvest can only need one thing; a successful cucumber farming business.