Tapping opportunities in cucumber, watermelon production
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.