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Profitable types of commercial vegetable farming in Nigeria

In the bustling metropolis of Lagos alone, over 30 different types of vegetables are farmed commercially.
These vegetable farms are usually situated in residential backyards or open space areas along roads, streams or in open fields. In other major cities around the country, as well as rural areas, there are scores of different vegetables that are commercially produced for profit making purposes.
Below are a select few vegetables that are popular in Nigeria:
Fluted Pumpkin:

Image credit; Wikimedia Commons[Image: Telfairia_occidentalis-247x300.jpg]
This is popularly known as Ugu leaf. Ugu leaf is perhaps the most consumed vegetable in Nigeria, used to prepare a host of dishes by almost every tribe in Nigeria. It is valued for its high nutrient value when cooked, and its blood volume enhancing ability when consumed raw.
This is one of the vegetables that can be cultivated in every part of Nigeria due to its tolerance of drought and poor soil conditions.
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Image credit; Wikimedia Commons
Green okra, also known as gumbo (in New Orleans, US) and lady’s finger in many English speaking countries, is an edible green pod vegetable well known for its high nutrient content.
Containing a significant level of Vitamin A and well known for its antioxidant properties, it is also rich in Vitamin-C, Vitamin-K, and some form of Vitamin-B Complexes. It is a hardy vegetable and can be grown on almost any kind of soil.
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Image credit; Pixabay
Popularly used to prepare salads and coleslaws, cabbage is another popular vegetable in Nigeria. It is traditionally consumed raw, but can also be used in a variety of dishes. Compared to other vegetable produce in Nigeria, it is relatively expensive for the end user, and this is because it requires more effort to cultivate than the others
Cabbage fares better in colder climates, it grows well on fertile, well drained, and properly-fertilized soil. It must also get at least 6 hours of sunlight every day.
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Image credit; Pixabay

Cucumbers are usually consumed raw, but are also used for preparation of many kinds of food in Nigeria. It is also marketed as a cosmetic product. It is said that the human skin and cucumbers share the same level of hydrogen content, which makes it easier for cucumber to deal with the skin problems by engulfing them. It is therefore a vegetable produce that is in high demand by cosmetic companies.
This is a vegetable that thrives on soil that is well drained and rich in organic matter, and is relatively easy to grow. Just make sure they have full sunlight and soil that is rich in organic matter.
Jute leaf 
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Image credit; Wikipedia

Known as Ewedu in Yoruba Land, the jute leaf is probably the most popular vegetable among the Yoruba people of Western Nigeria. It is a hardy vegetable that grows almost anywhere, in any condition. When it is grown on a properly irrigated piece of land, it matures quickly and is a fast seller.
Water Melon:
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Image credit; Wikimedia Commons

A vegetable that is also regarded as a fruit, water melons are cultivated and harvested within three months. They need a warm ground for seeds to germinate and grow.
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Image credit; Public Domain

A must for every Nigerian table, tomatoes cultivation can be an amazing source of income. There are six musts for growing tomatoes. They require a minimum of 8 hours of continuous sunlight each day, and 3 to 4 months of warm, clear, fairly dry weather to produce best.
Start-Up Capital for the Vegetable Farming in Nigeria
The start-up capital required to grow vegetables will depend on the scale of operations envisaged by the farmer. To begin cultivation vegetables on a piece of land that is sized between one and two hectares of land, experts put the startup capital at between N50,000 and N70,000 (as at 2016 and depending on your location). This would include payment for seedlings, pesticides, manure and labour.
Challenges of Vegetable Farming in Nigeria
As with any other venture undertaken by man, commercial vegetable farming has its own challenges.
The first one is vegetable glut, a condition in which the harvest of many farmers mature and are brought to the market at the same time. This occurs once in a while and drives down the price of vegetables considerably. And since they are quickly perishable, a farmer at this time has to sell at whatever price he can get in order to avoid total loss.
A major challenge of the vegetable farming profession is closely tied to the first. Preservation is a major problem. One way to avoid glut is preservation in order for vegetables to last for longer. Nigeria however is still struggling with the preservation problem, leading to excess and then waste in glut periods, and scarcity and costliness down the line.
Success tips for Nigerian commercial vegetable farmers
Proximity to city markets is a huge advantage in this business, due to the perishable nature of the product. Vegetable farms located too far away from the markets may supply vegetables that may lose their freshness before they arrive at the markets.
Profit minded farmers must target a huge proportion of their production volumes to coincide with the dry season, as income from vegetable sales during the dry season can be up to three times the wet season prices.
Sell beyond the farm. Vegetable vendors (who sell in the markets) can make up to three times more than actual vegetable farmers, therefore gaining direct access to consumers is a good way to increase profits. Major supermarkets, restaurants, and caterers will take advantage of a direct buy from farmers to reduce costs and have guaranteed freshness. They therefore make good targets.
Consider using manure, especially poultry manure to improve the vegetable yields. Poultry manure is known to be perfect for vegetables due to its high nutrient content and it is cheaper than fertilizer.
Employ pesticides to overcome pest problems, but be sure to use only safe ones to avoid significant health risks to the consumers and the environment.
Farming seems to be one of the ways to revive the Nigerian economy and reduce its dependency on the oil industry. The industry creates instant employment, and can actually produce millionaires and billionaires and owners of farming empires, if given a chance.
PS; This post could be downloaded as PDF (Vegetable Farming in Nigeria (How to Start & Make Money))
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