Ewedu also known as Jute leaf is one of the most popular vegetables among the Yoruba people of the South Western part of Nigeria. However, it is also eaten among other tribes of the country. It is usually eaten with starchy foods like amala, eba, pounded yam and semovita.
Ewedu is a very good source of fibre, vitamins and minerals. It is low in calories and this makes it an excellent option for people that are trying to lose weight. Also, it serves as a source of lignin, an important raw material in the textile industries.
One interesting thing about this vegetable is that it grows virtually everywhere however, when it is grown properly on well watered land, it tends to grow fast and produce optimal yield.
The popularity of this vegetable makes investment in ewedu farming a lucrative venture. Starting your ewedu farm isn’t capital intensive and you can easily start cultivating in your backyard.
Generally, ewedu does very well on swampy areas. However, it can be planted on normal soil and it tends to thrive well as long as it is watered regularly.
Ewedu requires a well-drained loamy soil that is rich in organic matter. It thrives well in areas of moderate rainfall. However, you can plant ewedu anytime of the year as long you can provide adequate access to water through irrigation facilities.
Prior to planting, the ground should be tilled to make it soft. A well pulverized soil allows proper root development and growth. Additionally, a soft soil also promotes optimal yield. Also, manure from animal dropping should be added to the soil to supplement the soil nutrients and to prepare the soil for planting. Inorganic fertilizers like urea or NPK can also be used.
You can plant ewedu at anytime of the year but if you are targeting supply during the dry season then you can start planting between September and January.
A good way of preparing your seeds for planting and speeding up the process of germination is by boiling the seeds. The seeds should be suspended in a cloth then boiled in water. After boiling, the seeds should be dried, and then planted.
There are various methods of planting seeds. Broadcasting and drilling are the most ideal for vegetable seeds. The broadcasting method involves evenly dispersing on the bed.
On the other hand, the drilling method involved making tiny channels in the bed. Afterwards, the seeds are poured into these channels and covered slightly with soil. You can water the plant twice daily. Ewedu matures between one and one and half month after planting. If you are planting ewedu seed for commercial purpose, the broadcasting method is the best.
You can create beds of about 1.0m and furrows of 0.5m and the seeds can be planted on these beds. The furrows enable ease of post planting activities.The spacing between ridges should be at dimension of 1m by 5m.
Post planting activities help to promote the growth and optimal yield of the vegetable. After planting, you can cover the soil with palm fronds to prevent birds from picking up the seeds
It takes about 4 days for the Ewedu seedling sprout. The plant should be watered once or twice daily for 3 weeks. It takes about 3 weeks after planting for Ewedu to mature. Once the plant is matured, watering can be reduced to 3 times a week.
An important activity done after planting is mulching. This is the process of covering the soil with plant residues or other materials. This helps to prevent evaporation as well as weed growth. Mulching help to conserve soil moisture in order to promote growth and maturity as well as improving yield. Mulching is different from the covering of the beds with palm fronds to prevent birds from picking up the seeds.
Additionally, the use of fertilizers is essential in generating optimal yield. This is done in addition to the initial application of manure prior to planting. The proccessing of adding fertilizer can be done 2 weeks after planting. However, use of fertilizers can be a combination of organic and inorganic fertilizers. This combination helps to promote growth of the vegetable as well as improve yield.
Just like other plants, the ewedu plant is susceptible to pest attack. Nematodes, beetles and parasites like nematode can adversely affect the stem and leaves of the plant. The attack can be mitigated by applying organic pesticides. One common diseases that affect the ewedu leaves is the leaf spot disease.
Weeds are also known to choke the plant. Generally, the effect of weeds and disease can be mitigated by the use of the appropriate chemicals. However, it is generally not advised to use chemicals because these products can affect the nutritional quality of your harvest as well as leave deposits of toxic chemicals in the leaves.
Ewedu is ready for harvest between 4 to 5 weeks. Harvesting is done by cutting the stem with knife or uprooting the plants from the bed. Harvesting can continue for up to 5 months after the initial harvest. However, the process usually stops when no new leaves are formed.
The leaves are sold immediately after harvest or within a week of harvesting. One method of preserving freshness after the harvest day by keep it wet by sprinkling water on the leaves regularly. Also, the leaves can be stored at a cool temperature of 20C as a means of preservation.
Ewedu is a very popular vegetable in Nigeria yet there tends to be irregular pricing all year round due to the changes in climatic conditions. Nonetheless, there are innovative methods of ewedu farming that can ensure the availability of this vegetable all year round. This should be the crux of your business plan when investing in this business venture. This will increase your profit and ensure that your farm always supplies the vegetable to your customers no matter the time of the year.