Farming is one of the blooming branches of economy in today’s Nigeria; more and more young entrepreneurs turn to farming as their first and most successful business. Most farmers go for the common crops like tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers, while others make a more daring choice of growing cashews.
It’s clear that the cashew nut business in Nigeria is gaining popularity, but it’s still a fairly undiscovered section of agriculture, which means you can be one of the first cashew farmers Nigeria will see in the next few years. Here is your complete guide to starting a cashew plantation.
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1. History of cashew farming in Nigeria
Long before you’ve even considered building a cashew farm, this crop has already been known among Nigerians. The 1950s marked the time when Nigerian cashew farming got its start with plantations in Oji, Oghe, and Mbala. Since then cashew farming has spread all over the country.
Today there are thousands of cashew farmers in Nigeria and most of the cashew crops are exported to other countries. Cashew is mostly valued for its nutritional and tasty nuts, but the fruit of the cashew is also widely used around the world.
2. How to start cashew farming in Nigeria
If you’ve decided that a cashew plantation is your way to prosperity, here are the steps you need to take in order to become a successful cashew farmer.
1. Choose your land
One of the biggest benefits of growing cashews is that they are not too demanding when it comes to soil. They can grow well in sandy and lateritic soils, which is why each one of the highest cashew producing a state in Nigeria, including Kwara, Oyo, Osun, Enugu, and Benue, is located in the areas with sandy soils.
The land should be prepared for planting of the seedlings before the monsoon season – preferably in May. Clear out the soil, plough, and level it if needed, and dig soil trenches along the edges of the field to ensure better moisture conservation.
2. Acquire funds
While cashew farming has one of the lowest starting capitals among profitable businesses, you still need money for the land, seedlings, workforce, and other expenses. There is a good chance you will find an investor for your enterprise, but only if you create an attractive proposal on cashew nut processing in Nigeria.
3. Plant your cashews
Cashews are first planted in planting bags and then are moved into the pits. Make sure you create pits in advance so that when the seedlings reach the age of 3-4 months old, they can be promptly moved into the pits.
4. Care for the plants
In order to give you a decent crop, your cashew plants need to be taken care of. First, design an irrigation system, so that the seedlings have enough moisture while growing. Mature trees need less water and can actually go for months without proper watering.
You can use fertilization products, but it’s important to choose the right ones since not all types of fertilizers and manure are compatible with cashew plants. Moreover, remember to watch out for weeds, pests, and diseases, as when these problems are left untreated, they can prevent you from obtaining the expected crop.
5. Harvest your crops
Cashew plants are not the fastest ones to give crops: it takes a new cashew tree three years to start producing cashew nuts. After the first crop, you can have up to 30 more years of regular harvesting. Usually, the harvesting is done by picking up the fully mature nuts from the ground, although you can also use the fruits for the production of juice and jam.
The cashew season in Nigeria starts in February and lasts until late spring. Freshly harvested cashew nuts are normally sold raw to bulk purchasers, although it’s also possible to dry roast the nuts before the sale or process them in a few other ways. That’s it: your first crop of cashews is ready and you can successfully continue farming this valuable plant.
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