In this post, we shall look at Cucumber farming in Nigeria. This plant is a highly nutritious vegetable that is grown highly in Africa, especially in Nigeria.
Cucumber is also one of the most consumed fruits in the world. What if I tell you that this fruit, which is rich in fiber and vitamins, aids in weight loss and reduces the risk of cancer which is some of its many health benefits? You might have bought this vegetable but might not be aware of its economic importance.
Some of the Health Benefits of Eating Cucumber include:
1. Repels Mouth odour
Cucumber contains phytochemcials which kills bacteria, responsible for mouth odour. When you chew cucumber, the liquid it emits penetrates the gum and cavities of the tooth which helps to repel bad breath.
2. Keeps the Body Hydrated & Aids in Weight Loss
Just like other fruits, cucumber contains high water content, so it keeps the body hydrated and eliminates toxins from the body. Cucumbers are also low in calories and the high water content in cucumber, makes it ideal for those who are looking for vegetables to help them lose weight.
3. Improve and Aid Digestion
This natural vegetable aids and improve digestion; it contains high water content and dietary fiber, which is useful for the body in getting rid of harmful and toxic substance from the digestive system, also daily consumption of cucumber cures chronic constipation.
4. Reduces Cancer Risk
Cucumbers contains anti-cancerous compounds such as lariciresinol, pinoresinol, which helps the body fight against several kinds of cancer. Women are advised to take this fruit and make this part of their diet since they are prone to breast cancer.
5. Makes your Skin Fresh, Smooth and Younger
If you have noticed the skin of most vegetarians and models, you would see how smooth their skins look. Cucumber extracts have become one of the most used ingredients used in producing beauty creams. Eating cucumber also helps to fight against skin inflammation, eczema and helps keep the eye sharp. So, if you need that good looking skin, then make this fruit your companion.
6. Rich in Vitamins
Cucumber is a very rich source of vitamin; most of the vitamins present in it are highly needed by the body daily, everyday intake of these vegetables together with its peels, helps to replenish the vitamins needed by the body and it also boost the immune system.
7. Break Kidney Stones
Consuming cucumber daily helps to reduce the risk of having kidney problems. With the help of its anti-toxins, it helps in keeping the kidney up and going, removing kidney stones and reduces acid found in the body.
8. Stabilizes cholesterol level, cures diabetes and regulates blood pressure
If you are diabetic, then you should add this vegetable to your diet. Drinking cucumber juice helps cure diabetes because it contains a natural hormone that helps activate the pancreas that produces insulin. It also has a compound called sterols, which according to research, help reduce cholesterol levels. The presence of magnesium and potassium also helps regulate blood pressure.
To venture into cucumber farming in Nigeria, a lot of proper planning needs to be done in order to produce the desired results. There are important things you have to look into which includes where to plant, when to plant and how to plant.
Once the planning stage is complete, a strategy should be put in place so as to reach your target market at their various locations. It is very important that you know your target market because this will prevent your cucumbers from staying too long on the farm after harvesting.
Without further ado, let us look at the processes involved in cucumber farming in Nigeria.
1. Site Selection
Even if cucumber can be grown in any part of the country, there are still some things to look out for concerning the soil type for farming. Ideally, the soil should be loamy or clay and the land should have adequate access to water. The pH of the soil should be fairly neutral or slightly alkaline (close to 7.0).
Additionally, the area should have sufficient exposure to sunlight since light is very essential for not just cucumber growth, but plant growth. Have it at the back of your mind that your site selection should not be too far from your potential market or target customers.
A larger farmland gives you a greater yield. If your land is small, you can make do with it pending when you get a larger one.
2. Land Preparation
Land preparation involves clearing the land and weeding it. Ensure that herbicides are not used to weed the land. This is because these herbicides contain chemicals that can affect soil quality and crop yield. It is advisable to apply organic manure to the soil in preparation for planting. Inorganic fertilizers like the NPK fertilizer can be applied in the ratio 15:15:15.
3. Seed Selection
Seed selection is a very important step in your cucumber farming venture. Endeavour to source for seeds that are certain to give you great crop yield.
Seeds from Europe and America are not suitable for the Nigerian climate. However, seeds can be imported from Thailand since their climate is similar to that of Nigeria. If you need assistance on where to source for your seeds, you can visit the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture to get their recommendations on the best type of cucumber seeds.
Cucumber can be planted at any time of the year. The plants generally need adequate water to thrive, so if you’re planting during the dry season, there should be an irrigation system in place to ensure sufficient water supply. You can plant on bed and you should ensure the right spacing between the plants.
Also, you can plant your seed in the nursery then transplant later to the farmland. However, the recommended method is planting directly on the farmland due to the fragile nature of the cucumber root hence transplanting could damage these roots. The seeds should be planted in damp soil. The soil temperature is also important prior to germination. Ideally, the temperature shouldn’t be between16 – 35C
The seed should be pushed slightly into the bed at about 1 to 2 cm from the soil surface. The spacing between plants should be about 1 foot apart while the spacing between rows should be about 4 to 6 feets. 3 seeds should be planted per hole; however once germinate occurs, you can thin the plants to 2.
5. Post Planting
After planting, do ensure that you support the growing plant with stakes or pillars. Reason is that cucumber plants are climbers by nature and they require the necessary support for optimal growth.
Mulching is also an important activity. When you mulch, you reduce the quantity of fertilizer, you’ll need post planting because less nitrogen is lost via leaching. Also, mulching makes the soil warm and reduces weed growth.
Irrigation helps to promote the growth of cucumber. In fact, light irrigation increases the effectiveness of herbicides used in weed control. Irrigation is particularly important during fruit development. However, wetness of the foliage can allow for fungal disease infestation. Ideally, the plant should be watered daily once the seedlings begin to sprout.
Weeding should be done 20 to 30 days after planting. Liquid inorganic fertilizer or organic fertilizer can be applied every 2 weeks. Cucumber needs adequate nitrogen in the soil to grow optimally so you can apply an inorganic fertilizer that is high in nitrogen. However, mulching can help preserve the nitrogen content of the soil as stated earlier.
As it is with crops generally, pests and diseases can also affect cucumber farming. These pests include ladybird, beetles, spider mites and grasshoppers. Insecticides can be applied to control cucumber beetles. In the case of spider mites, apply the appropriate miticide.
Diseases that affect the cucumber plant include damping off, anthracnose, mildew and mosaic disease. As a way preventing diseases particularly fungal diseases, you should plant seeds that have been treated with fungicide. In the case of a disease like leaf spot and mildew, apply a fungicide once you notice any sign of the disease.
You can spray insecticides at regular intervals to control the pest. Livestock like cow and goats can also affect cucumber because these animals eat the leaves and fruits.
Cucumbers are harvested when they are immature and green in color. They shouldn’t be harvested when the cucumber is ripe. It takes about 40 to 45 days for the cucumber to mature. However the time taken to mature depends on the variety of cucumber seed planted.
Harvesting is usually done manually and the cucumber should be handled with care to prevent bruises. Also, high impact damage due to the cucumber falling can cause internal bloating. This is why you should avoid dropping the cucumber when harvesting or transporting them.
Once the cucumber is harvested, wash them quickly in a bowl of water and arrange them carefully in a bag for sale. Cucumber should be stored in a cool place with a relative humidity of 95%. However, it is not expected you store the cucumber for long.
Once the cucumbers have been harvested, there should be a defined process in place to move the fruit from the farm to the market. Obviously, this should have been sorted out during your research prior to starting the business venture. A readily available market coupled with a bountiful harvest is a perfect recipe for success in cucumber farming.