Although more and more people are choosing to leave the countryside and move to big cities, agriculture still remains one of the main industries in Nigeria.
Cocoa farming in Nigeria presents itself with some great opportunities, as cocoa products are not becoming less popular at all, that’s why the demand on cocoa seeds is becoming higher and higher. So, here are a few suggestions on how to start cocoa farming in Nigeria:
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1. Advantages of the cocoa farming
If you’re still thinking about whether you want to start cocoa production in Nigeria, here are some points, that might convince you:
- Cocoa is used in a lot of products – from sweets and beverages to cosmetics
- Demand greatly surpasses supply – you will definitely earn money from it
- Nigeria has an ideal climate for it
- It doesn’t require too much resources – after the trees will have matured, you’ll be able to make profit by simply gathering the fruit-age
2. Choosing the right conditions
Of course, as in every agricultural business, there are some basic requirements for climate and soil, without which you won’t get a high-quality product. Let’s take a look at them:
Cocoa trees grow better at greatly moisturised soil, preferably slightly acidic one. The roots of the trees can grow up to 2 meters long, so the soil must be deep enough to allow such a growth. Originally, cocoa has been growing in the rain forests, so the conditions for its intentional growing have to be pretty similar.
The best climate for the business is the one in Southern and Western states of the country – more rain and less sun. The climate should be stable, with medium temperature around 25 °C. The cocoa trees are very sensitive to the lack of water, so don’t forget to take that in consideration.
Also, you’ll need to be able to provide the appropriate surroundings. Palm trees, banana or mango trees should be around to shade the cocoa.
3. What you’ll need to start
If you’ve found the right place, first thing you’ll need to start your cocoa plantation business plan are high-quality cocoa tree seeds.
You can either get them from more experienced farmer, or you could play it safe and turn to the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture. Clear up your schedule for the end of April – start of May, as this is the best time to start planting your seeds – right at the brim of the rain season.
This business will require some time to develop, as you’ll have to wait from 3 to 5 years for the first harvest, but till then you’ll have plenty of work, nurturing and taking care of the young plants.
If you’ll want to make your plantation more extensive, you’ll need to breed your trees. The most common method of breeding is seeding – beans are planted after about two weeks after their harvest. You can bud a branch from cocoa tree to the different tree at all, or use the cutting method – grow the tree from the leaf, but these methods are less effective.
5. Types of cocoa
There are a few suitable types of cocoa seeds you could use, which are:
5.1. The Criollos
The most expensive type, these trees have the least bitter seeds. This breed is difficult to take care of, it is very susceptible to different diseases and fungi.
5.2. The Forasteros
This breed of cocoa dominates the market, it’s easier to produce and cheaper to buy, but it has a strong acidic and bitter taste to it.
5.3. The Trinitario
Trinitario is the mix of previous two, with upsides of both of them. It is not so weak, as the Criollos, but it has great taste. An ideal choice for a medium-sized farm.
6. The downsides
Every business has its pitfalls you’ll need to know to keep up. Here are some of them for the cocoa farming:
- It requires a lot of work a first few years
- You should constantly watch out for vermin and diseases
- You’ll need to have enough starting capital, which could be quite a lot of money
However, all your hard work will certainly pay off, and you’ll be happy about the results of your efforts.
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