It will interest you to know that cash crops like coconut have been building millionaires in Nigeria. However, the value chain of coconut farming in Nigeria has remained grossly untapped.
Coconut farming is the cultivation of coconut trees. The coconut tree or coconut tree, scientifically known as ” Cocos nucifera ” is a prodigious plant unique in its kind. This is characterized by adapting very well to the hostile conditions existing in coastal ecosystems; such as sandy and not very fertile soils, in addition to the permanent presence of salty water.
Likewise, this plant along with its fruit (the coconut) is one of the most representative elements of the native culture on the coasts of almost all the beaches in the world.
It can be said that practically all the tropical landscapes on the planet are associated with its presence in the same way as the sand or the sea.
It should be noted that the coconut tree has also been called ” the tree of life ” for its many uses. Around this plant a very interesting culture has developed, mainly driven by its unique and exotic fruit, from which many products such as oil, pulp and water rich in electrolytes can be obtained.
Not to mention all the crafts that can be developed with its shell, which can even be used to obtain biofuel .
Benefits of coconut farming
• Coconut Oil benefits :
The coconut oil has been noted by many experts to be the healthiest oil for human consumption. The coconut oil is utilized for numerous purposes such as ; improving hair quality and strength, utilized as wood polish.
More so, it helps to improve the cholesterol level of humans. Thus, the coconut oil is a massive income generating business for coconut farmers in Nigeria.
• Coconut water benefits :
Essentially, coconut water contains electrolytes and is well enriched with abundance of minerals.
These minerals includes though not limited to calcium, potassium, sodium and magnesium.
• Coconut meat :
This is the thick white lining covering the inside of a mature coconut shell. The coconut meat is well enriched with vitamins A and E, polyphenols and phtosterols that work hand in hand to help decrease the level of LDL cholesterol in the human system.
Coconut meat can be consumed in various ways. It can either be eaten raw, cooked or roasted, combined with smoothies or any other fresh fruits. It is as well utilized in the production of ice cream.
• Coconut flour :
This is another viable business opportunity in coconut farming business in Nigeria. The coconut flour serves as a substitute to every other flour in the food recipes, so much so that just two tablespoons of coconut flour gives you about 5 grams of fiber.
Thus, for people with wheat allergies, gluten sensitivity and celiac disease , coconut flour is the best bet for you because it contains no grain and glutten.
For you to produce coconut flour, you must extract the coconut milk from the meat so as to produce the dry flour.
• Coconut milk benefits :
The coconut milk is actually a combination of coconut meat and water in order to produce a very creamy texture that is likened to cow milk. The milk is lactose and of enormous health benefits .
Varieties of coconut in Nigeria.
To enable you make informed choices while embarking on coconut farming business in Nigeria, you are advised to look into the different varieties and species of of coconut. To this end, you should know that there are mainly two subgroups of coconut palms and they ;
(1. The tall and
(2. The dwarf coconut palms
It is recommended that you use very high yielding variety to increase productivity, especially for commercial coconut farming.
Hybrid coconut farming in Nigeria
Inorder to make the coconut farming business in Nigeria more enticing, there are some genetically engineered varieties that will guarantee you ample yield ranging from 100 – 250 coconuts per tree annually. This therefore leads to the production of about 17,000 coconuts per acre.
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To be noted that with these genetically engineered coconuts in your coconut farm, you are sure of approximately 500 million liters of coconut, 200 coconuts per tree and about 60% of coconut oil production capacity.
A visit to the Nigeria Seed Council will enable you ascertain the requirements for accessing these genetically modified coconut varieties.
You are guaranteed of bumper harvest with these genetically improved varieties in your coconut farm. The Western Tall and Tall × Dwarf are the best known choices for nuts and coconut oil for your coconut farming business in Nigeria.
How to start coconut farming in Nigeria
In order to ensure maximum productivity in your coconut farm, you should endeavor to meet the following requirements that would guide you in your coconut farming business in Nigeria.
• Coconut Farm Business Plan – It is recommended that you should have a detailed business plan . This would enable you to understand all that there is in coconut farming business in Nigeria. Thus, apart from helping you to understand the vast coconut market in Nigeria, your business plan as well comes handy in many ways.
Through the market survey you carried out in your business plan, you will greatly understand the vast coconut market in Nigeria and how best to penetrate it.
Your business plan as well gives you an edge while applying for government loans and even other private financial institutions in Nigeria.
More so, you get to attract investors to your coconut farm.
• Farmland Selection And Preparation – With your start up capital at hand and a detailed business plan, the next vital step is the acquisition and preparation of your coconut farm. Ensure that the selected farmland is properly cleared, plowed and stumps, removed. This is to ensure adequate drainage.
More so, it is generally recommended that you fence the selected farmland, provide a good irrigation system and other essential infrastructures that would aide the maximum growth and development of your coconut farm.
Now that you have your coconut plantation business plan and your startup capital, the next requirement for you is farmland selection and preparation. You should make sure that the farmland you have selected is properly cleared.
The compacted soil must be plowed and all stumps in your farm removed to ensure adequate drainage.
It is recommended that you fence your farmland borders, with good access roads, irrigation systems, and other important infrastructure that ensures maximum growth and development of your coconut plantation.
• Soil Type – According to expert opinions, the ideal soil conditions that guarantee improved growth and over all performance of your coconut palms are well-drained soil that is between 50 – 100cm in depth and good water retaining capacity
You can as well grow your coconut under varying soil types like the coastal sandy, lateritic, alluvial, loamy etc
• Coconut Planting Season – It should be noted that the survival of coconut palm is largely dependent on the availability of water. As such, your planting should be done at the outset of of the rainy season
You are also advised to utilize coconut seedlings grown and nurtured in a nursery for your coconut propagation. The seedlings should be about 8 – 10 months old before it is transplanted to the permanent coconut farm.
Ensure that you transplant your coconut seedings within 3 days of taking it out from the nursery, to avoid it dying off.
• Coconut Spacing – For suitable spacing of your coconut in the farm, it is recommended that you plant not more than 70 coconut palms in one acre. However, a spacing of 7.5 by 7.5 meters will comfortably take in 178 coconut palms in one hectare. You should consider the square system of planting as it is the most preferred.
Basically, there are three major coconut planting space patterns that can you can choose from. Though you are advised to garner all the requisite information on the different coconut planting spacing patterns before you choose any of them. They’re as follows ;
(1. The square pattern
(2. Triangular pattern, and
(3. The Single Hedge pattern.
• Fertilizer Application -To ensure optimal growth and over all performance of your coconut seedlings, it is recommended that you gently place the seedlings in the already prepared holes and back fill them with topsoil that is mixed with 30g NPK fertilizer. To avoid damaging the sprouts, the seedlings should be carefully handled.
You are also advised to start irrigating the farm once the planting is done.
More so, according to the Coconut Development Board, a mature coconut palm on the average requires about 600 – 800 liters of water once in every 4 – 7 days.
Thus, during the dry season there’s usually a high death rate of transplanted coconut seedlings, coupled with the shedding of young nuts, the inability of young friends to open as well as the drying and hanging down of older fronds still.
Therefore, the place of a good irrigation system can never be over emphasized inorder to have a bumper coconut farming harvest.
• Coconut Pests And Diseases – The major pests that attack coconut palms and invariably hinder their growth and eventual yield are; the coconut eriophyd mite, red palm mite, the red palm weevil, rhinoceros beetle, the leaf-eating caterpillar, the scale insect as well as the coconut mealybug.
Fortunately, there are some available pesticides in the market that you can utilize to effectively control the effects of these pests in your coconut farm in Nigeria.
On the other hand, some notable diseases of coconut are red ring disease, bud rot, and the lethal yellowing.
• Harvesting of Coconut – If you utilized the genetically modified coconut seedlings, you are guaranteed to start harvesting your coconuts from the fourth year of planting.
You get to harvest the mature nuts once you notice that at least one of the nuts in the oldest bunch is drying up. More so, mature nuts are easy to identify by the brown coloration of their epicarp.
The two major methods of harvesting coconut are therefore the climbing method and the pole method.
Health benefits of coconut consumption
It has a high fiber content, which gives coconut laxative properties, helping to reduce and lower the high content of cholesterol and sugar in the blood.
Due to its constitution, the coconut is a fruit with properties of vitamin E with an important antioxidant action on the skin and is ideal for people who are weak.
Nutritional composition of coconut
C 39 mg
B1 0.06 mg
B2 0.18 mg
Potassium 398 mg
Match 110 mg
Calcium 16 mg
Iron 4 mg
Polyunsaturated 1 g
Unsaturated mono 4 g
Saturated fat 53 g
Coconut uses – coconut farming business in Nigeria
Coconut is used in many ways from its consumption with fresh fruit and a great diversity of products, so much so that it is said that there are as many uses of coconut as there are days of the year.
Its water is consumed. The consumption of fresh coconut is highly preferred in Europe. It is used in many artisan and industrial confectionery preparations. The heart of palm is the terminal bud of the coconut tree and is consumed raw.
It is obtained from the dry pulp of the coconut which is pressed. It is used in the manufacture of edible oils, soaps, detergents and other by-products. The oil solidifies at room temperature.
The oil is rich in saturated fats , it brings great benefits to skin care. Its appearance is white in solid state, in liquid state it is transparent and somewhat yellowish.
It is used for the manufacture of mattresses, production of organic matter , material for nurseries and handicraft production.
The above constitutes some of the great business opportunities available in coconut farming that makes it a very viable and lucrative agribusiness venture in Nigeria. Due attention should be given to these money minting opportunities that exist in coconut production in Nigeria.