How to start cucumber farming in Nigeria
Cucumber also known as Cucumis Sativus is a very popular crop in Nigeria. And cucumber farming is one of the most lucrative farm business one can start with a relatively small capital. However, the one big fallacy about how to start cucumber farming in Nigeria is the notion that cucumber can only grow in the Northern part of Nigeria.But that is actually fallacy argumentum ad ignorantiam. Yes, it is ignorance that makes people to peddle such notions. The truth is that cucumber can do very well whether in the north or in the south if the right steps on how to start cucumber farming in Nigeria is duly followed.
So if you have passion for Agriculture I want you to consider the enormous opportunities in cucumber farming. And today I want to share how to start cucumber farming in Nigeria and make millions monthly. But before I go ahead to share the step by step guide on how to start a lucrative cucumber farming in Nigeria I will share show you why you need to consider this idea.
How Big is the Cucumber Business in Nigeria?
The good thing about this wonderful vegetable is that it is consumed worldwide and the demands of it is very high which knocks off the the ideas of whether you would be able to sell it. Go ahead and give cucumber farming a trial and see for yourself that you has been unknowingly allowing millions of naira or even dollars to slip away carelessly.
There’s no two ways about it that no nation can survive without good provision made or put in place for the importation of foods of various types for the citizens. So anyone that is looking for a business to start and hope to make something more meaningful and lasting should consider looking into agricultural direction because it is a seldom sector of the economy which only few clever ones are diverting into and are silently making a enough kill.
The issue of cucumber farming is not to taken for a joke because if done rightly, one would see all his investments multiplying in quantum. A cucumber farmer while describing his business, said that it is like “a glass business, which you will be seeing yourself while doing”.
Cucumber is a vegetable that is widely consumed all over the world due to its health benefits which both the educated and non-educated individuals testify to.
Talk about anything concerning cucumber and you are sure to know more about the wonderful benefits of the global vegetable.
Key Stats About Cucumber Farming Globally?
1. The total world production of cucumber in 2020 is 91.2 million metric tonnes
2. China is by far the largest producer, accounting for nearly 80% of global production at 72.8 million metric tonnes
3. US is the 9th largest producer with 646,414 metric tonnes.
4. USA is the largest importer of cucumber in 2020 accounting for 33% of global import worth $960 million.
5. Nigeria does not produce up to a ton of cucumber per annum – what an opportunity!
How Much Does it Cost to Start Cucumber Farming in Nigeria?
Cucumber farming in Nigeria doesn’t have to cost a fortune to start.
Cucumber farming in Nigeria is a business one can start with as little capital as 100,000 naira assuming there is land already. But here I will show an estimated cost of starting cucumber business in one acre of land. So here are some of the cost for starting a cucumber farming in Nigeria:
1. Farmland Rent
If you have a family land or access to a free land you will automatically skip this cost. However, if you don’t you can always rent or lease a land. Buying should not be an option for a startup farmer like you. To rent one acre of farmland in any rural area in Nigeria should cost about 50,000 naira. Of course this price can vary based on location.
FYI: Cucumber is a quick growing vegetable and can be ready for harvest within 3 to 4 months. So in your rent you can negotiate monthly payment and not have to pay the full cost for a full year.
2. Purchase of Fertilizer
Soluble and chloride free fertilizers are the best to use for cucumber farming in Nigeria. Examples of such fertilizer are Potassium Nitrate, Humates, Calcium Nitrate, Monopotassium Phospohate, Potassium Sulphate, Micronutrients and microbial inoculants will be used.
Small quantities of the mixed fertilizer solution will be applied to the roots of the cucumber plants every day through drip irrigation. Humates will make the fertilizers stable and stay at the root base; it also magnifies the efficiency of the applied fertilizer. Microbial Inoculants will boost the microbial profile of the soil.
Concerning the cost, a budget of 3 bags should be enough for one acre of land. And since the average cost for a bag of fertilizer is N30,000 you should expect to spend about N90,000 on fertilizers.
3. Purchase of Manure
I have earlier mentioned poultry droppings. It remains the preferred manure for cucumber farming in Nigeria. I am aware that many farmers have free access to this especially those with their own poultry farms. However, if you don’t have such luxury, with N30,000 you should be able to get enough poultry droppings that can serve one acre. It is usually sold in bags in most places and the price of a bag depends on the location.
In cucumber farming, organic, inorganic pesticides or both can be used. Before planting, high dosage of fluvic acid may be used to decontaminate the soil. Neem oil and a suitable soap can also be used to kill harmful nematodes and microbes, after applying neem oil, molass and humic acid can be used to repopulate the beneficial microbe in the soil.
Chemicals like Furadan can also be used for soil treatment; however this kills the beneficial microbes in the soil.
To be able to have effective control of pests and insects in one acre of cucumber farm a pesticide of N25,000 will be enough.
5. Hybrid seeds
The commonest hybrid cucumber seeds in Nigeria are Murano F1, Tokyo F1, Greengo F1, Monalisa F1 and Darina F1. These seeds are high yielding and able to resist pest and diseases than open pollinated varieties.
For one acre of farmland 1.5kg of hybrid seed is required. And since 1kg of hybrid seed goes for about N10,000 to N11,000 it will therefore cost N16,500 to cover one acre.
In a month you will need about 2 committed workers to effectively manage one acre of cucumber farm. So if on the average each person is paid N50,000 per month, it will take N100,000 per month. But since your cucumber will be ready for harvest after 3 to 4 months, it means you are likely to spend N300,000 to N400,000 on labour.
7. Drip Irrigation
With drip irrigation, you save amount of water and fertiliser to use. Even labour is reduced when drip irrigation is deployed. And when it comes to the cost, it varies. It can go for a range of N200,000 to 1 million naira depending on the type and quality of irrigation kits you choose to deploy. However, for an effective drip irrigation of one acre of cucumber farm on budget N250,000 will suffice.
FYI: Drip irrigation otherwise known as trickle irrigation is a micro irrigation system that involves a controlled delivery of water direct to the roots of plants using pipes of hose with emitters.
Staking helps Farmers to increase the density of their cucumber plants. It also helps in reducing diseases, encouraging humidity and makes the farm neat and easily navigable.
Bamboos, Palm fronts, binding wire and ropes are used to stake the cucumber plants. And in terms of cost N30,000 will be enough do for this for an acre of cucumber farm.
9. Soil Test
Soil test is quite important in cucumber farming just like in any other crop. It helps the farmer understand the available nutrients on the land and what more should be added to enrich it further for optimum yield. If you want to invest in cucumber farming, it is a must you get your soil analysed via soil test.
A farmer starting a farm without soil test is like a blogger making posts without keyword research. And guess how much soil test will cost you? Not much. A sample is about N4,000 and an acre of land will take 5 samples. So with just N20,000 you have taken care of that.
The truth is that it is practically impossible to stay here and gauge the exact cost of running any form of business and get it accurately. In reality, there are some unforeseen costs you will encounter when you start.
For this reason I advise you set aside another N200,000 for miscellaneous expenses.
So, in summary we have the following cost for one acre of farmland:
Revenue Projection for Cucumber Farming in Nigeria
All things been equal – if the farmer adheres to all best practices an acre of land can yield as much as 500 bags. And a fully loaded bag weighs about 40kg. So it can give up to 20,000kg in yield.
Now, a kg of cucumber in Nigeria sells for about 300 naira.
So even if we take a worst case scenario where the yield is just 50% of the actual capacity that is 10,000kg you will still make about 3,000,000 naira per acre of land.
Is Cucumber Farming in Nigeria a Profitable Venture?
Without any doubt, the answer is capital yes.
Just from our analysis above, you can see that it gives almost 200% return on investment within a short period of just 4 months.
Amount invested = N1,111,500
Revenue realized in 4 months = N3,000,000
Gross Profit = (3,000,000 – 1,111,500) = N1,888,500
ROI = 169.9%
Jasper Chidera Ezirim, a young cucumber farmer in Imo State confessed to making over 2 million naira in 3 months. Jasper is just one of the many examples of young people who has created wealth from cucumber farming in Nigeria.
Steps to Start Cucumber Farming in Nigeria
Step 1. Conduct Your Research
Before I explain this point further, let me advise; never venture into any business you don’t have good knowledge of. That is why research is very important. And it also applies to starting cucumber farming in Nigeria.
You need to make research on all that is necessary for cucumber farming in Nigeria from start to finish.
One key research area you must focus on is the Cucumber species. Different species thrive in different areas and on different soil types. So you need to know the type that thrives in your location.
Step 2: Develop a Business Plan
You know I will say this, don’t you? Of course I know you do. What shall it profit an entrepreneur to embark on a business venture without sitting down to count the cost. Business plan is simply about counting the cost before embarking on a journey. Just like that biblical parable men will laugh at you if you start and is unable to finish. And the only way to know if you have the capability to finish even before you start is by developing a business plan on how to start cucumber farming in Nigeria.
Unfortunately, not many farmers consider this a necessity. But truth remains that having a clearly written business plan will give you an edge over others.
Among other benefits it will help you to easily attract investors and other financial institutions to fund your farm. In fact with a detailed business plan on cucumber farming in Nigeria even the government will look for you.
Step 3. Secure a Suitable and Healthy Soil
The soil for cucumbers should be rich and very rich in nutrient. To get the best out of your cucumber farming in Nigeria you need a rich humid soil. But that is not to say that anything less won’t work. However, my suggestion is that when you get a soil for planting, one month before planting, you should first amend the soil with compost and manure. After that allow it for that one month for it to decompose and penetrate into the soil.
If you live in the village you notice that it is easy to make your own compost in a compost bin. However, if you don’t have access to homemade compost you can use poultry droppings.
And for the soil PH, cucumbers enjoy a soil pH between 5.5 and 7. The higher the pH, the less susceptible to fungal disease the plants will be. If your soil doesn’t meet this specification, then you need to seek organic soil amendments that either increase or decrease the pH as the case may be.
Step 4: Chose the Right and Resistant Species of Cucumbers
Cucumbers are susceptible to a number of diseases and pests. Fungal and bacterial diseases are particularly common with cucumbers. By choosing the right species that are disease resistant you automatically increase your odds for success.
And if you are wondering such resistant species to go for here are some to consider:
- Marketmore 76 (slicing cucumber)
- Marketmore 80 (slicing cucumber)
- Salad Bush (slicing cucumber, dwarf—good for containers)
- Regal (pickling cucumber)
Step 5. Plant Correctly
Plant your cucumber in a hole of about 2.5cm deep and a space of 50cm apart which makes for adequate spacing. The adequate spacing also helps them to get enough sunlight which is good for their optimum performance.
Cucumbers are natural climbers, so let them climb by planting them vertically.
To avoid the bulk of pest trouble, direct sow cucumbers on the late side of your planting window. For example, if your planting window is from first week of April through the last week of June. Then, plant your cucumber in the last week of June. This typically reduces the damage you are likely to experience especially with pests.
Step 6: Keep Weeds Away as Much as Possible
The same way you dread disease and pest is the way you should dread weed for your cucumber farming in Nigeria. You don’t want anything to compete with the nutrients available to the plant. Weeds can equally cause crowding and reduce airflow to the plants. The worst part of it is that certain types of weeds can actually harbor the dreaded cucumber beetle
So how best do you control weed to get the best possible result?
One way to control weed without much labour is mulching.
FYI: Mulching is the process of covering bare garden soil with porous materials to create congenial conditions for the crop growth, surpress weed growth, prevent water loss through evaporation and improve the condition of the soil underneath.
Mulching the cucumber bed will easily keep weeds down while keeping soil moist.
Another way to reduce weeds is to interplant rows of cucumbers with rows of companion crops that offer a mutually beneficial relationship. Examples of such crops I would recommend include sweet corn, beans, peas and lettuce.
Step 7: Irrigate Properly
I am not the one telling you that cucumber is 99% water. You already know that. SO that means you should ensure that it does not lack water at anytime.
However, watering cucumbers is tricky, since they are susceptible to fungal growth if the leaves get wet frequently.
So what you do is to use drip irrigation to keep the leaves dry, or water cucumbers in the morning so they can dry off in the sun throughout the day.
Step 8. Harvest and Smile to the Bank
This is the fun aspect of the whole matter.
Did you notice I didn’t say ‘harvest and smile to the market’? Naturally it should have been from the farm to the market before going to the bank. But not with cucumber. With cucumber it is straight from farm to the bank. The reason for this is that cucumber hardly get to the ground. It has a very high market value. You don’t struggle to sell your cucumber. All you have to do is to inform the locals that you have it for sale and there will be queue down to your farm.
You can retail your cucumber for more profits if you have the time also. And if your farm is on a large scale you can think of export. But I tell you the truth local supply in Nigeria is not yet enough.
Another very good and attractive point why one might want to start cucumber farming in Nigeria is that it takes just sbout 2 months from planting to harvest.