In recent times, a lot of Nigerians both young and old are beginning to dump their white collar jobs in order to take up farming. Unfortunately, many are having it difficult finding success in this lucrative business of agriculture.
Agriculture may look as simple as just planting a seed and watching it grow. Or rearing a group of animals then selling them after maturity. However, there’s much more to agriculture than these.
But before we go into the nitty-gritty of the agricultural business, here are a few reasons which you should start thinking serious about this business if you’ve never have.
- Nigeria has a total of 82 million arable hectares out of its total land area of 91 million hectares.
- There are hundreds of different food crops like maize, yam, millet, beans and potatoes that are being produced by Nigerian farmers each year. However, their output isn’t enough to meet the nation’s demand.
- The Agricultural sector contributes just a little over 20% to the overall GDP of the country even though it can be much more.
- Almost all imported foods imported can be cultivated within the country.
- The Nigerian population is increasing rapidly and there’s need for food security.
Between the 1950s and 1970s, the revenue generated from cocoa production was used to finance free primary education and free healthcare in the then Western region of Nigeria. However, our earnings from such lucrative cash crops have diminished over the years. But with the recent fall in crude oil prices and the ongoing awareness on agriculture, it seems Nigeria is on its way to restoring agriculture to its place as a major income earner.
There are a couple of options when starting an agricultural business. You can either be a livestock or crop farmer. The interesting thing about agriculture is that you can start on a small scale and grow the business with time. Also, availability of land isn’t necessarily a constraint because there are many options especially in animal farming that don’t require much space.
When it comes to crop farming, some of the largely consumed crops include rice, cassava and yam. Currently, Nigeria is one of the highest consumers of rice in the world. Over 300 billion naira is spent each year importing rice.
Interestingly, the imported rice has lesser nutritional value when compared to the locally grown rice. A bag of rice sells for about N15 000. Yet, if a commercial rice farmer in Nigeria can produce up to 10 000 bags in a year, s/he can easily earn N150 million in revenue. However, you’ll need some ample investment in equipments and land area to pull this off.
Generally, there are certain things to consider when you’re starting a crop farm. One rule of the thumb is to try to cultivate crops that have a huge or at least reasonable market demand. These types of crop are very lucrative and some of these include yam, cassava, plantain, rice and maize.
If you’re interested in starting a crop farm, the steps below should be considered and properly implemented.
There are certain things to consider when selecting your ideal farmland. Some of these include exposure to adequate sunlight, the pH of the soil, the fertility as well as its water retaining capacity.
Once you’ve selected the land, the next step is to prepare it for planting. Usually, commercial farming goes beyond manual labor. Heavy machineries for ploughing and land clearing should be employed. If you land is an open space, you may need to fence it to prevent intruders such as thieves, herbivorous animals like cows and goats that can eat up your crop.
Preparing the land also involves addition of manure. This could be inorganic or organic. Usually, the soil’s nutritional need is mainly in the form of potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen. However, the ratio of these nutrients is dependent on the type of crop you are planting.
The selection of the seed variety to be used in planting is dependent on certain features. Some of these include high yield capacity, disease and pest resistance.
There are different dimensions for planting and they are based on the type of crop being cultivated. These include spacing between plants, planting depth, space between rows and so on. Also, you can plant in the nursery, on flat land or on ridges. There are also post planting activities which include application of fertilizers, weeding, mulching, irrigation, pests as well as disease control.
This is the final process in cultivation. A good harvest almost certainly means a great return on your investment as a farmer. Prior to harvesting, plans should already be in place on how you would distribute your harvest to your target market. This is very important because many of these crops are perishable and any delay in distribution could lead to loss of yield and income.
On the other hand, you may choose to start an animal farm instead of a crop farm. Some of the options include:
- Snail farming
- Cattle rearing
- Poultry farming
- Cat fish farming
Based on the fact that poultry farming is a popular choice with many first-time farmers, we’ve decided to include some important details about this type of farming here.
Generally, there are many options in poultry farming and you can choose from any of these.
These poultry breeds are reared specifically for their meat. Usually, broilers grow quite fast. Within 6 weeks, they are ready to be sold. The best time to begin the rearing of broilers is the period prior to festive seasons like Christmas and Easter. The demand for the broilers is normally high during this period.
The goal of breeding layers is for egg production. Layers usually have an egg production span of about 2 years. However, it is expected that you would have reaped maximum returns on your investment by the time they stop laying.
You can also choose to be a feed producer. In this case, you can sell poultry feeds to poultry farmers.
A hatchery is place where the chicken or birds are hatched. You can sell these birds which could be just a few days old to poultry farmers. It is important you maintain the hatchery at optimal conditions so that your hatchery is known for healthy birds.
This is an agro-allied service in which you can specialize in the sale of poultry equipment.
If you’ve spent some time in the poultry business, you can become a poultry consultant by offering tip and advice to aspiring poultry farmers as well as experienced poultry farmers.
Irrespective of what aspect of poultry you intend to specialize in, you’ll need to properly plan before you start. Some of the necessary considerations when planning include
- Land/space: You can start at your backyard but if you want to rear birds commercially you’ll need to use a large area.
- Waste disposal: You need to put in place a proper waste disposal system for disposing poultry droppings.
- Water source: There should be access to a clean water source for your birds.
- Light source: Birds need lighting and heat. You can use lamp source as your light/heat source in the absence of electricity.
- Storage space: It is important that you have a place where you can store your egs, vaccines and bird feeds.
- Feeding: Averagely, a broiler chick may consume 20kg for it first 6 weeks. On the other hand, the layer chick consumes about 20kg within its first 10 weeks. These are important factors when buying the feeds.
- Housing: The type of housing you use for poultry farming is dependent on many factors. You can either use the free range system, the deep litter system or the battery cage. In the free range system, the birds are allowed to move freely within a defined area. This is a very basic method of farming. If you’re planning on rearing your birds for commercial purpose then you’ll need to use a better housing system.
Also, there’s the deep litter system in which the birds are housed in a building. The floor is layered with saw dust and the birds all stay within this confinement. Although this housing metohd can be used for commercial rearing, it has some disadvantage. For instance, when there’s a disease outbreak, it’s a bit difficult isolating the affected birds.
Finally, there’s the best and most expensive system which is the battery cage system. In this case, the birds are kept in cages and are classified based on their sex and type. Broilers and layers are kept in separate confinements/ male and female are also separated.
Although poultry farming is a very lucrative business, there are some risks associated with this business. However, some of these like disease outbreak this can be mitigated by vaccination, adequate supervision and proper housing.
Ideally, proper supervision can enable the farmer spot the disease quickly and isolated the bird(s) affected to prevent further spread. On the other hand, a housing system like the battery cage helps to prevent quick spread of poultry diseases
Other lucrative aspects of animal farming include cattle rearing, goat rearing, cat fish rearing and snail farming.
Agricultural business can be very lucrative if you’re well informed. We believe this article has been able to equip you with the right information that you need for success in this venture.