Commercial Pumpkin Farming In Nigeria; How Profitable?
Pumpkin leaf is popularly known as ugu and it is native to West Africa. It is mostly consumed and grown in the southern part of Nigeria. This leaf is one of the most popular in the country as many Nigerians have come to know that the vegetable is full of essential nutrients.
Pumpkin farming is one of the easiest agricultural businesses and it is always in hot demand all year round most especially in Nigeria as it is food consumed almost every day.
Why Pumpkin Leaf Farming Business is the Right Choice
Pumpkin leaf known as ugu leaf in Nigeria has a very high demand because of its high rate of consumption.
Some points below highlight why you should go into this profitable business
- You will always sell irrespective of the season you plant your pumpkin
- It is a short term business enterprise meaning you can easily get your money in the shortest time possible
- You do not need too much farming experience to start
- It does not require too much capital to start up
- Pumpkin seeds are readily available to cultivate with
- You can start as little as you can
- You can plant 3-4 consecutive times in a year which will help you make good money.
Land Preparation for Pumpkin Leaf Farming
The first thing you must do to kick start pumpkin leaf farming is to prepare and make ready for cultivation the piece of land you intend to use.
Pumpkin farming does well on sandy – loamy soil. Clear and remove every stump in the land. If the soil is hard till it for easy penetration of roots, good aeration, and proper germination of the seed. For land with low fertility, you can pour organic manure on the soil.
If you are using organic manure you can go for poultry droppings or cow dung but ensure they are well treated before using it to prevent them from killing your plant.
How To Prepare Pumpkin Seed For Planting
Cut the pumpkin pod with a knife and bring out the seeds. Dry them under the sun for a day or two and do ensure they are not over-dried in other to preserve the viability of the seeds.
Drying the seeds help them to become resistant to pest and diseases which could have eaten them off or affect them in the soil.
Planting of Ugu (Pumpkin)
Planting of Ugu should be done very early in the morning or late evening when the weather is cool and calm. Plant 2 – 3 seeds per hole
Open the soil using a cutlass or whole to about 4 – 5cm deep and plant the seed by standing it with the mouth buried to the soil, then cover it properly with a little sand to avoid exposing it to the sun.
Adopt a plant spacing of 50cm x 100cm which means that a hectare will require about 10,000 seeds while an acre will require 4000 seeds.
Irrigation in Pumpkin Farming
Water is very important when it comes to pumpkin leaf farming and hence should be provided if there is not sufficient rain. Irrigation should be done every two days morning and evening most especially during the dry season.
Getting a source of water such as a well or borehole will be very important. Farming close to a river can also be of huge advantage to you.
You can use drip or sprinkler method of irrigation
Weed and Pest Control in Pumpkin Leaf Farming
You must weed your pumpkin farm to prevent the weeds from competing with the available nutrients. Delay in weeding or clearing your farm can cause the pumpkin leaf to become yellowish which will harm the market value of the leaf.
Not weeding your farm can create room for insects and pests to affect the plant. For weeding the use of a manual method is better because the use of herbicides may not be successful due to the crawling nature of the plant.
Some of the diseases that affect pumpkin leaves are airborne and most of the insects are boring ones and a good example is a caterpillar.
To control pests use insecticides such as sharpshooter, maxi-force, scorpion, etc. You can also use neem oil mixed with water to spray on your Ugu leaf.
Some Tips for Profitable Pumpkin leaf Production
- Find the right market for sales before production
- Use well drain soil
- Use raised beds
- Soil test for lime, fertilizer, and nematicide needs
- Lime to pH of 6.0 to 6.5
- Allow soil to warm to 60o F before planting
- Use spacing for harvest purpose
- Control weeds
- Spray for mildews
- Prune for large fruit if market demands
How Profitable is Pumpkin Leaf Farming?
Seriously speaking the first question that comes to mind when you want to start pumpkin leaf farming is how profitable it is? The answer is it is very profitable if proper farming management practices are put in place.
You can make up to 100 times over in this business on investment returns.
One can realize about #800,000 from an acre of land with an investment capital of #300,000 in raising a pumpkin farm. You do the cultivation once after that you will be harvesting every 3 times a week for 3 months.
You can get your capital in about a month excluding land and other properties. Everything about pumpkin farming is money, the fresh leaves are harvested for sale and the hard ones can be used for cooking soup as well.
The pods are sold too. You can bring out the seeds and also sell them. A seed is normally sold for #50 or more depending on some factors such as location and season.
A pod contains about 60 seeds, imagine getting up to 100 pods from your farm. That’s huge money and in case you want to carry out another planting, you won’t have to spend money on buying seeds again.
To make more return on investment, dry season pumpkin farming is the best you will make up to 3 times more than the amount you would have made during raining season. This is why most pumpkin leaf farmers prepare for aggressive dry season farming.
When and How to Harvest your Pumpkin Leaf
You can start harvesting your pumpkin leaf 2 weeks after planting or when the stems are long enough. Cut the stem a little distance from the bottom of the stem position your hands where the node is and cut.
You can use a knife if you are not experienced in hand cutting. To harvest the pod lookout for the tendrils, the pod is ripe and ready for harvest when the tendrils are dried and sometimes they fall off.
Marketing your Pumpkin Leaf
Since the demand is very high people will always come to buy. However, you can locate market women, restaurants, hotels, bukas, and eateries to sell in bulk.
Consumers give high preference to fresh, dark green with wide leaves so ensure to feed your pumpkin to grow well.
Commercial Pumpkin Farming In Nigeria; How Profitable?