In spite of the present challenges in the Nigerian economy, opportunities still abound locally in key sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing.
Cucumber and watermelon production in Nigeria are one of those opportunities that still need to be explored. Nigeria has a comparative advantage in the production of vegetables with huge demand locally and internationally.
Apart from huge demand for consumption, cucumber serves as a by -product for the cosmetics industry in the production of facial toners, body lotion and other beauty products.
It can be grown across the 36 states of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory. It takes an average of three months to grow cucumber and watermelon. More water is required to grow cucumber than watermelon and both vegetables can be grown everywhere.
National demand for vegetables is put at 5.13 million metric tons, according to data obtained from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Tips for one hectare
The soil must be tested to know the soil condition. Cucumber does not grow well with soil areas that are highly acidic. There are additives that neutralise PH value in a soil.
The next step is to get quality seeds. “Seeds are very important in cucumber production because of climate change. It is good to look out for varieties that can produce in both drought and wet season,” Afioluwa Mogaji, CEO, X-Ray Consulting Limited told BusinessDay. Varieties such as Murano, Darina and Pickings can produce in both dry and wet seasons.
An average of 700kg of NPK and urea are needed per hectare to achieve optimum yield. Also, the market timing should be well understood and the peak period for cucumber is September when the demand is very high and prices are very attractive.
According to Mogaji who is popularly called AfricanFarmer cucumber requires less water application during the vegetative stage and more water during the fruiting stage. He stated that Watermelon production and water application is the reverse of cucumber.
Olam launches campaign on rising cardiovascular disease among farmers
ADEOLA AJAKAIYE, Kano Olam Nigeria Limited has launched a community health awareness campaign initiative in Jigawa to help tackle the rising incidence of cardiovascular disease among farmers in the state.
The campaign tagged ‘Olam Healthy Living Project’ and designed to complement healthcare delivery in Jigawa is being implemented under its CSR initiative to drive awareness on the rising incidences of cardiovascular disease in the country.
Flagging-off the three-day campaign at the premises of Gumel Emirate Foundation, in Gumel, Jigawa State, Emmanuel Akoyibo, who is the coordinator of the Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Program of the company, disclosed that the campaign was geared at scaling up wellness among farmers in communities in the Olam sesame supply chain in the state.
Akoyibo revealed that the program is being implemented in partnership with the Jigawa State Ministry of Health, and medical experts in the field of cardiology drawn from both the public and private in the state.
He said that about 225 farmers participating in the Sesame production programme of the company from the benefiting communities are being sensitized on the various CVD risk factors and the preventive measures to lower the risk of the disease.
“The project entails the sensitization of the farmers about the basic causes of the disease, and steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of coming up with the disease.
“During the three day programme, the Medical Team will be measuring the blood pressure of all the participants to ascertain their status and provide appropriate advice on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
“Sensitization became imperative with the rise in risk for cardiovascular diseases. We believe that a healthy Olam resides in the health and well-being of all the stakeholders in our supply chains and workplace”, Akoyibo explained.
Also speaking, Bulama Bashir, Olam CRS community representative, noted the program was borne out of the care that the management of the company have for the Nigerian farmers, and the benefiting communities.
“This program which is being carried out as part of our corporate social responsibility is a demonstration of our commitment to assisting our partnering farmers to live well.
“The particular initiatives, along with other similar projects which we have been implementing for a very long time now have impacted greatly on the development of the benefiting communities.
It would be recalled that similar intervention, known as ‘Sesame Sustainable Village Program’ designed to assist farmers with training on good agricultural practices, free improved sesame seeds, loan of agricultural inputs such as fertilizer and pesticides and a buy -back of farmers produce at a premium price over the years, is being implemented.
“The company has also initiated clean water projects by digging boreholes in communities, such as Gagarawa, Garki, and Sule tankarkar, as well as provided educational materials to the communities,” Bashir, stated.
In his remarks, Kabiru Mohammed Ahmed, director -primary healthcare of the Gumel local Government Area, commended the company for demonstrating serious concern about its farming community, and placing priority on health and well-being of the farmers.
At the end of the campaign the farmers are expected to pass down the knowledge they have learned to their families and fellow farmers who are not privileged to participate in the program.
SOURCE: BUSINESS DAY