Cotton is one of the highly demanded natural materials due to its use in the production of fiber materials and other textile materials. As long as people continue to wear clothes, there would always be a demand for cotton. Additionally, oil can be extracted from cotton seed. This cotton seed oil is a healthy source of vitamin E which is an important antioxidant. Also, the oil can be a very healthy alternative for those trying to reduce their cholesterol levels
Cotton used to be one of the major products of export in Nigeria. In fact, it was responsible for 25% of the country’s GDP until crude oil was discovered. Currently, cotton accounts for a paltry 5% of the nation’s GDP. Cotton can be grown in 24 states across the nation however only 18 states produce cotton currently.
A few years ago, samples of cotton produced by different states in Nigeria were evaluated and Ogun State was adjudged as the best grower of quality cotton in the country. The reason for this was linked to the pattern of rainfall and the soil type in this state. This is quite comparable with some of best cotton producing nations of the world like Egypt and Mali. Unfortunately, Ogun state is currently not among the top cotton producing states in Nigeria. However, things seem to be getting better as the West Africa Cotton Company recently reiterated that they would be investing 5 billion naira in the Ogun State’s cotton industry.
The cotton plant is an annual plant and requires hot climate to grow effectively. Having a cotton plantation is one of the best investments anyone can have. It provides a continuous source of revenue for many years to come. This is due to the huge demand of cotton and its by-products in not just Nigeria but many parts of the world.
This is a step by step guide that will help you in making the right decisions when starting a cotton plantation from acquiring your land to harvesting and selling your produce.
1. Acquiring The Land
The major challenge with cotton farming is that the farming process is highly capital and labor intensive. Usually, the major share of the capital goes into acquiring the land. Cotton farming is best done in commercial quantities; hence you’ll need a large expanse. You can either acquire or lease your land depending on your preference. Leasing should be at least 10 years so that you can have adequate time to obtain a reasonable return on your investment.
However, before you acquire the land, you’ll need to ascertain the viability of the land. The land should be located in an area that is adequately exposed to sunlight. Also, you’ll need certain farming equipments like tractors that will help you in the process of land preparation and planting. Additionally, fertilizers and pesticides are very important in mitigating the effect of pest attacks. It is important to note that the cotton plant is highly susceptible to pest attacks.
You’ll also need to evaluate the profitability of the cotton industry in your location. It is important that you validate the demand of the cotton in your current location. For instance, if demand is high and supply is low, then you have robust opportunity and you can easily break into the market.
There’s a planting period for cotton and you have to plant the seeds during this period. If you miss the right planting season your yield will be poor. You can buy cotton seeds from farmers around. You should also randomly ascertain the viability of these seeds prior to planting. The quality of your harvest is directly dependent on the quality of your seeds. Many cotton farmers often complain about the availability of quality cotton seeds. This problem has been rectified with the introduction of biotechnology. This process helps to ensure that the best quality seeds are used in planting.
Burkina Faso is one of the top cotton producers in Africa and they’ve been able to leverage biotechnology into becoming one of the top producers of quality cotton flower. In fact, they currently export their cotton produce to neighboring West African countries.
Generally, cotton is susceptible to insects like weevils. These pests can affect the yield of your crop. You can spray pesticides to ward off these pests. You should also weed the farmland once in two months. Don’t use chemicals to kill the weeds because it can affect the quality of your cotton yield.
At the end of one year, your cotton plant should be ready for harvesting. Blossoming of the bud and the cotton flower becoming visible are the indicators of harvest. You can employ laborers to pick up the cotton flower for you. You should be ready to transport the flowers to your buyers once they’ve been harvested. There’s a post harvest disease that can affect cotton flower, this is why you should have your clients within your reach once you harvested your produce.
4. Selling Your Cotton
Cotton is a highly demanded commodity. You can liaise with the textile industries within your region to supply them your produce prior to harvest. Delays in transporting your cotton should be avoided because of the adverse effect of cotton boil as stated earlier. You can also export your cotton to neighboring African countries.
Additionally, cotton seed oil which is a product of cotton seed is beneficial to many industries. It can be used to make plastics, margarines, pharmaceuticals excipients, rubber and cosmetics. Also, the linters which remain on the cotton after ginning can be used to make, bandage, swabs and cotton buds.
The use of cotton is quite extensive and this makes cotton farming a very lucrative business venture.
However, you’ll need to carry out a proper market research prior to venturing into cotton farming. This will help you identify your potential customers before you even embark on this venture. It is extremely that your market is readily available to be supplied immediately after harvest.