Cucumber farming in Nigeria is a very lucrative business, it has become a major source of income and a worthy venture to so many people. Especially now that proceeds from crude oil can no longer sustain the economy anymore.
Individuals, private institutions, public sectors and Government at all levels have gone into intensive Agricultural practices. This is because it has the capacity to serve our economy. Some State Governors are engaging in aggressive cucumber and watermelon farming since there is so much prospect in it.
This is.. not a wish saying any more, people are becoming millionaires in less than three months through cucumber farming in Nigeria.
WHY YOU SHOULD START CUCUMBER FARMING
Cucumber is a kind of fruit that is eaten all over the world, Nigeria inclusive. Cucumber is used for various purposes some for health reasons, to enhance the appearance of food (most especially restaurants), for agribusiness purposes etc..
These reasons make the demand for it to be high. Cucumber can be planted any time of the year, provided irrigation equipments are in place for use during dry season. It can be harvested within a short period of time, two months or less depending on the type of specie planted.
Cucumber farming in Nigeria is easy, the only hard work is the making of bed (you can pay labourers to do that for you). It doesn’t involve much money, as a matter of fact you even make huge profit out of the small amount you put into it. Cucumber farming can also be done with little or no experience although it is advisable to do a trial farming before kicking off on a commercial purpose so as to know the best management practises to use.
A STEP BY STEP GUIDE ON CUCUMBER FARMING IN NIGERIA
Before going into cucumber farming in Nigeria certain measures has to be put in place, which will make it to be very successful.
Those measures will include: budgeting for time to be visiting the farm to know how it is fairing, pest and diseases spreads very fast the little moment you turn your back on the farm can make you to lose everything you worked for.
Visit the farm at least once in a week. Keep pesticide close by for use whenever the need arises. Be sure to keep mulching, staking, irrigation materials for use during cucumber farming in Nigeria.
LAND PREPARATION/PLANTING OF CUCUMBER
Clear the land you want to use for planting. Till and make ridges or beds on it, this will help in loosening the soil for effective growth and weed control. Treat the soil with insecticide and dress the bed with organic manure such as cow, or poultry dung.
Apply NPK fertilizer 15 15 15 if you are using inorganic manure. Plant the cucumber seeds two days after applying fertilizer, it can be directly on the soil or in the nursery, use plastic tray for the nursery, transplant the seed after the appearance of a third leaf. The distance between furrows should be 70cm from another.Plant 2cm into the soil, 1-2 seeds per hole, 50cm apart if you are staking, 100cm apart if you are not staking.
The kind of seeds you plant matters a lot that is why you have to know the ones you are planting. This will help in knowing how to handle them as they grow. Most people prefer hybrid seeds because they are already treated. The nature of the seeds influences their growth pattern. In respect to their germination/harvest periods.
Cucumber starts sprouting 4-5 days of planting. Make sure to plant species that are acceptable in your area if it is for commercial purpose. Some of the recommended species are the; Thai, Murano seeds, Tokyo F1 etc.
MULCHING/WEEDING OF A CUCUMBER FARM IN NIGERIA
Mulching helps in the control of erosion and moisture maintenance. Use mulching films but if you cannot get them, use black tarpaulin or nylon sheets. Weed is not good for any growing crop because they compete with each other for nutrients and sunlight.
You can use the traditional method for weeding that is the use of hoe or the use of herbicides/pesticides but care must be taken not to spray on the body of the plants in other not to reduce the maximum productivity of the seedlings even though this method is cheaper and easier when compared to the traditional method coupled with the expenses involved.
After the first application of fertilizer before planting, apply again during the vegetative, flowering and fruiting stages. Cucumber plants are heavy eaters as such their manure/fertilizer should be increased on every application, this is a kind of practice carried out in cucumber farming in Nigeria. This will bring about healthy germination and bigger fruits.
Do not allow fertilizers to touch the leaves of the cucumber plant because it can make the plant to stunt. Fresh cow dung are high in ammonia(nitrogen) and when it touches the plant burns them off, also they carry vectors that stick to the vegetables which causes harmful disease to humans when consumed. Treat dung for about 1-3 months before use.
You can mix one litre of fresh blood in four litres of water and apply as soil drench, if your plant is fruiting you use liquid fertilizer. When too much water is applied on the cucumber farm a fungi disease-downy mildew will manifest due to humidity, to fix it mix four table spoons of baking soda in four litres of water and use it as folia spray.
STAKING IN CUCUMBER FARMING
It is a good thing to stake cucumber plants as it allows for easy movement in the farm, it also helps in monitoring cucumber growth, performance as well as good utilization of available space. bamboo tree can be used for staking with rope for treiling of the seedlings. Use jatropha plant as a perimeter fencing since it repels cattle, other predators and also add economic value to the soil.
IRRIGATION IN CUCUMBER FARMING IN NIGERIA
Irrigation is very important especially during dry season cucumber farming in Nigeria. Cucumber contains much water that is why constant supply of water is important.
Shortage of water causes wilting or death of plants. It also makes the cucumber fruits to be bitter. You can construct a bore hole if you have the money otherwise dig a well for constant water supply. Drip irrigation is found to be a better method of irrigation.
PEST AND DISEASE CONTROL
Pest no doubt is a major problem in cucumber farming in Nigeria. Insects are mostly the predators. Although some of them are needed for pollination making it difficult to attack them. Always spray in the night as the insects that attack crops do so at night. Whereas the ones that pollinate crops do so during the day.
Do not spray insecticides at will until you notice the presence of pest or you notice its activities. Palm kernel oil mixed with neem oil kills pests such as nematodes very fast. Concentrate on the tip of the vine when spraying as this is where they cluster (gather) themselves. Other pests are lizards (the eat cucumber seedlings a lot), goats, cow, monkeys etc.
HARVESTING OF CUCUMBER
Depending on the kind of seeds planted and the availability of nutrients in the soil, harvesting of cucumber should
start from the 35-45 days of planting. Other subsequent harvesting should be done twice or thrice a week. That is after 3-4 days interval for about a month before the leaves dries off or the plant dies. Cucumber that is large and yellowish on the vine can become very bitter. So ensure you harvest them from the vine before they turn yellow. The size that should be harvested should be between 5-11 inches this is in regards to cucumber farming in Nigeriao
MARKETING OF CUCUMBER
As in other businesses, cucumber sales itself. There is indeed market for it any day, anytime. Standardize your cucumber products, give a competitive price to it then approach super markets, hotels, restaurants and make a deal with them. You can even sell by yourself and make more money. Make them available all year round so you can be that trusted producer. Be the best in cucumber farming in Nigeria.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF CUCUMBER
Cucumber has so many health benefits, some of which are:
1.They are good source of B vitamins. Cocumber contain most of the vitamins the body needs in a day. It has a good amount of vitamin C, about 10 percent of the daily recommended.
2. And regulates blood pressure because of the presence of potassium, magnesium and fibre in its water. It helps in reducing ageing due to its vitamin A, B and C content.
3. Cucumber contains about 95 percent of water as such keeps the body hydrated. This assist the body to eliminate toxins, aids digestion and prevent constipation.
4. Skin and hair care : cucumber skin can be used for body skin irritations and sunburns. Place a slice over puffy eyes and its anti-inflammatory properties will help reduce puffiness. It stimulates hair growth because of the presence of silicon and sulphur in them.
5. Fight cancers : Cucumber are known to contain lariciresinol, pinoresinol, and secoisolariciresinol which helps in reducing the risk of several cancer types. Such as; prostrate cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer and uterine cancer.
6. Mirror care: Eliminates a foggy mirror. Before taking a shower, rub a cucumber slice along a mirror and it will eliminate the mirror fogging. Instead of WD40, take a cucumber slice and rub it along a squeaky hinge and your door will not be squeaking again.
7. Relieves bad breath : Take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of your mouth with your tongue for 30 seconds. The phytochemicals in it will kill the bacteria in your mouth responsible for causing bad breath
8. Hangover cure: To avoid a morning hangover or headache; eat few slices of cucumber, before going to sleep. Cucumber contains sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes to replenish many essential nutrients,. That reduces the intensity of both hangover and headache.
9. Aids in weight loss and digestion: Due to its low-calorie and high water content,; cucumber is a good diet for people who wants to loss weight.
10. Promotes joint health, relieves gout and arthritis pain . Cucumber is an excellent source of silica; that helps in promoting joint health. By strengthening the connective tissues. They are also rich in vitamin A, B1, B6, C & D, Folate, Calcium, Magnesium, and Potassium.
When mixed with carrot juice, they can relieve gout and arthritis pain by lowering the uric acid levels.
Cucumbers are called super foods and are the fourth most grown vegetables in the world also known to be one of the best foods for the general body health. So many pesticides are used in controlling pest in a large commercial cucumber farming. But neem oil and water can be used as a natural control measure.