Hibiscus farming in Nigeria is fast gaining momentum as price of the flower surged over 70 percent in six months, making farmers eye N48 billion in earnings from export in 2023.
According to the Association of Hibiscus Flower Exporters of Nigeria, the country exported 40 feet of 1,983 containers, totaling 23,796 metric tons.
With the current market price at N1.7 million per ton, Hibiscus farmers in the country can rake in N48 billion (N.7 million multiplied by 23,796) in 2023 to impact their livelihoods.
BusinessDay findings show that farmers are now abandoning growing other crops for hibiscus while existing growers are expanding their production areas as price of the flower has almost doubled year to date.
“Lots of farmers are now abandoning growing other crops to cultivate hibiscus. The prices per ton have almost doubled and this is making farmers grow more of the crop,” Musa Mohammed, a hibiscus farmer in the Andaza area in Jigawa State, said.
“The prices of the flower started surging since Mexico removed its export ban of the flower from Nigeria,” Mohammed added.
Mexico imports about 85 percent of Nigeria’s total hibiscus, according to the Association of Hibiscus Flower Exporters of Nigeria (AHFEN). The country had in April 2021 lifted its ban on the export of Nigeria’s Hibiscus flower into Mexico.
Idris Abubakar, a forty-five-year-old farmer in Jigawa State, told BusinessDay that he is unable to meet up with the current demand of the flower from his customers.
He ended up paying other farmers to grow hibiscus for him as the crop is gaining traction in the international market.
“I had to expand my production area and also employ other farmers to grow hibiscus for me by giving them money because I can no longer meet up with my customers’ demand that is increasing daily,” he said.
Nigeria’s hibiscus cultivation has surged recently, as hibiscus farmers that were hitherto thrown out of business owing to the ban imposed on Nigeria’s exports of hibiscus to Mexico are now returning and new entrants finding the price attractive are also entering the market.
The price of Hibiscus flower sells between N1.7 million and N2 million as against N800,000 and N1 million.
Hibiscus is a versatile crop used for the popular zobo drink that can also be made for a list of by-products. Hibiscus jellies, jams, fruit pastes, traditional medicines, teas, syrups and refreshing drinks can be found in almost every market stall in West Africa.
The flower grows nearly throughout the year, though its peak production is during the dry season of November to April in the country.
It is mainly grown in Jigawa, Katsina, Bauchi, Kano, Maiduguri, Kebbi, and Sokoto with Jigawa being the largest producing area.
In Mexico, it is used to produce its popular Mexican drink, ‘Agua de Jamaica’ which is made from steeped hibiscus flowers, diluted with water and sweetened with sugar.
“Nigeria is the only country in Africa that is accessible to Mexico at the moment. And though we have lost some years to the ban, we are coming back gradually,” Tunji Lawal, president of AHFEN.
Hibiscus is grown during the normal regular planting season. Hence, once the rain starts, the planting season for the crop starts.
The planting areas are Jigawa, Katsina, Bauchi, Kano, Maiduguri, Kebbi, and Sokoto with Jigawa being the largest producing area. Once harvests commence in October, the crop remains available (in storage) till August to September.