Bitter kola farming will make you rich within a few years. It is a hot cake product both in the international and local markets It is an evergreen medium size forest tree with a heavy spreading crown. A flowering luxurious plant that can grow up to 30 metre in height. Bitter kola can be found all over West and Central Africa (mostly in tropical Africa). I have eaten a couple of fresh bitter kola fruits in Akwa Ibom State. It is just like any other fruit, although the fruit is not what most people are interested in but the nuts in the fruit.
We have less number of people who are into commercial bitter kola farming. This was due to the fact that it took so long before harvesting fruits up to 7 years and above. But with improved varieties you can plant and harvest bitter kola between 4-5 years. Cultivating bitter kola from seeds take many years to mature. While grafting of hybrid bitter kola will take a shorter time.
Bitter kola business is very lucrative, you will be paid in dollars when you trade them in the international market. There is an urgent need for entrepreneurs to invest massively on bitter kola farming business in other to breach the gap between supply and demand.
DESCRIPTION OF BITTER KOLA TREE
The trunks of bitter kola trees are straight and their bark brownish in colour. It has so many outstanding features; the flowers are greenish white while the leaves are leathery, the fruits are reddish-yellow with sour taste when eaten, the pod has four seeds with yellow pulp surrounding them.
Sometimes the pod can contain 2, 3 or even 1 seed, the number of seeds it contains determine the size of the seed. Nigeria is said to produce about 150,000 tons of bitter kola every year but 90% is consumed locally. Yet the rate of demand keeps increasing in the international and local markets.
The plant s classified under fruit, the seeds appear ball-like just like orange. Countries that demand for bitter kola in large quantities are US, UK, India, China, Turkey etc. In Africa you can find them in Gabon, Senegal, Cameroun, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Niger, Angola, etc. Bitter kola has so many local names in Nigeria example, efiat, goro, gworo, edun, oyale, onale, okan, orogbo, ogohi etc. You can add yours…. Bitter kola farming can be done in open field or in a semi shaded place.
Cut grasses and tress, mechanized the soil and make it arable for farming. The soil should be sandy-loam or heavy clayey loam rich in organic matter. PH of 5.0 (neutral) – 6.5 (alkaline) is ideal for bitter kola farming. The processes involved in the cultivation of bitter cola can be likened to that of Udara farming, walnut farming, cashew nut farming, ogbono farming etc. Bitter kola grows well in a wet soil and so require a temperature of 26°C-28°C.
Bitter kola can be propagated through seed and grafting. Plant the seeds in situ by staking and the stump under shade for 3 years. The seeds should be sown quickly after harvest because it has short viability period.
Germination of fresh seed is about 50% after 3 months of planting. At 7-8 months all the viable seeds would have germinated. But in nursery the seeds continuous to germinate till 18 months with about 75% germination rate. Germination of the seed has been a major challenge to increase germination to about 90% and above use alcohol (ethanol solution) to soak the seeds for 1-2 hours before planting. Spacing is 10m×10m or 12m×12m.
Weeding can be done manually or through the use of herbicides. If you allow weeds it will cause; stunted growth, pest and disease damages. Weeding can be done every 3 months in the first 4 years.
Like any other plant, bitter kola plantation should be fertilized every six months and also when the soil is deficient of any nutrient.
Insects attacks pods so harvest them on time. Use pesticide to control. Use neem oil ones in a while.
The fruits turn yellow or orange when ripe and mature for harvest. They will start falling on their own; it bursts and splits its contains on the soil. You can as well harvest them yourself by plucking the pods. Grafted bitter kola can fruit at 10-12m height. Bitter kola is available from April-October harvest is every year after the first harvest.
Supply to market traders, vendors, you can start bitter kola exportation. Places like the south-west use basket to sell. One full basket can cost #50,000. In Akwa Ibom paint rubber is use and one paint rubber cost #7,000 depending on the time.
USES OF BITTER KOLA
It has so many uses; socio-traditional believes Igbo people use it in marriages, welcoming of visitors etc. Bitter kola is used to welcome visitors in other to let them know they are safe, pharmaceutical industries use it in the manufacturing of drugs. It is eaten raw for pleasure etc. The bark, fruits, seeds, nuts, roots, flowers have been used traditionally in treating different ailments such as cough, stomach pain, fever, vaginal discharges, gastrointestinal challenges.
The roots are used as chewing sticks and the wood as lumber. Bitter kola woods can resist termites and ants attack. It is used for furniture, mortar making etc.
The nut is used in the production of drinks (brewery), the more reason it is demanded in large quantities in international markets
Start bitter kola farming today for a lifetime investment. Hybrid bitter kola will start fruiting in 3 years, not like the traditional seedlings that can take 10 years or more