PINEAPPLE FARMING BUSINESS IN AKWA IBOM
By Uwem Bassey
The Nigerian agricultural industry is currently experiencing tremendous growths and developments. The agricultural industry is a really huge industry with lots of recorded successes and ongoing expansions. While pineapple farming in Nigeria may not necessarily come to mind when you think of going into farming business, it is unquestionably one of the most developing sectors in agriculture in recent times.
In Akwa Ibom State, It is no different and is quite relatively easy to start, with promises for great financial benefits for newcomers.
Pineapples are sweet and nutritious fruits eaten for the flesh and juice. In Akwa Ibom State, out of all fruits in Nigeria, pineapples are one of the most commonly consumed fruits. Pineapples, just like any other agricultural crop can be processed into various forms. It is 100% useful and as such, no part of the crop is a waste, as every part of it can be converted into one useful form or the other.
The fruit can be processed into a fruit juice, a fruit jam, vinegar, a fruit wine. The peels can also be subjected to drying and used as concentrate for animal feeds. It can also be processed into pineapple candy, which simply involves a method in which the pineapple slices or dices are cooked and with candy or chocolate, usually for kids. And now there’s even production of dried fruit snacks from pineapple. Success in pineapple farming ultimately lies in understanding the variety, understanding what you want to do, that is having a clear picture of what you want to produce from the pineapple and also the effect the variety you would use will have on it.
Pineapple farming business may not seem glamorous, but it certainly has huge returns on investments with patience and practice. Here in Akwa Ibom State, pineapple has a really large market as it is one of the most commonly consumed fruits in the state. Yet, there is no MAJOR commercial pineapple farm in the state, mostly fruit farms. Investing in large scale pineapple farming business in Akwa Ibom State is undoubtedly a sure way for wealth creation and providing food for the state .There will always be a market for pineapples in the state. From my findings, most pineapple traders get their pineapple supplies from Cross River State which is a neighbouring state. So, imagine the prospects of running a pineapple farming business within the state!
SCOPE OF PINEAPPLE FARMING
So many fruit juice products are made with pineapple and so most fruit juice producers are on the lookout for pineapple farmers so as to purchase the fruit. In Akwa Ibom State, one medium sized pineapple is sold for between #300-#350 in local markets. For wholesale farmers, it is sold at #150-#200. So, assuming you harvested 200,000 pineapples and decided to sell for an average price of #100, you will make up to #20 million! And once you deduct your capital, transportation, production,and labour expenses, you would still have at least #10 million as your net profit. The beauty of this fruit is that once they start producing, they can continue to fruit for the next 10 years with proper maintenance.
Choose a good site. Before you start planting, you must first ensure you select a good planting site. The soil will need to be checked for the soil texture. Pineapples thrive pretty well on a sandy soil with sufficient nutrients, good water retention and proper humidity on the farm land.
Clearing the farmland. Next to securing a good farm land is to have the area completely cleared of stumps. And then preparing the land by ploughing and also making of beds for the planting. During the farmland preparation, you should be on the lookout for crop pests such as insect attackers. This can be handled by overturning the soil and exposing it to sunlight. This can either be achieved manually or mechanically using a tractor for ploughing and ridging the place.
Selection of specie. The most commonly used pineapple varieties are the smooth Cayenne pineapple, pure gold pineapple, the Queen pineapple. Be sure to choose the perfect variety. In Akwa Ibom State,high in demand is the Queen pineapple variety.
Planting. Planting the pineapples can be done in two major ways. You either plant using the crown or most preferably the sucker. The sucker is the shoot out from the sides of a pineapple and it even takes lesser time to germinate and grow than using the crown which usually takes up to a year and 6 months.
COMMERCIAL PINEAPPLE FARMING
Although commercial pineapple farming is not being fully explored in Akwa Ibom State, it is highly recommended. I am also currently planning to go into large scale farming in the nearest future. There are of course, certain things you need to get right before you can successfully laugh this venture. As already mentioned, the first step is to acquire a good planting site, also ensure that the land is not a flat one by making ridges which will prove useful against soil erosion. Also, ensure the soil is well drained and soft enough for the roots of the crops to have easy access to the ground for adequate nourishment from the soil.
Next, when planting, spacing is also very important for proper growth and should not be overlooked. Proper spacing enhances maximal absorption of nutrients from the fertilizers per plant. Also, pay attention to regular weeding and making sure that your farm land is free from insects. With proper farming techniques and maintenance, your farm should yield at least 50,000 plants per hectare
HOW TO GROW A PINEAPPLE
Pineapples are cultivated with the use of slips, suckers and crowns. There are 4 different systems of the planting in pineapple farming, these are;
1. Flat-bed planting method
2. Trench planting method
3. Contour planting method
4. Furrow planting method
All these however vary with soil type and rainfall distribution in different regions.
An optimum rainfall of 1500mm per year is sufficient enough for their best growth. This should however be supplemented with water supply for health fruits and big sized pineapple fruits for maximum yield and profits.
Manure and fertilizer application. Just like every other plant from, pineapples require soil with good organic matter content and high fertility for good yield of the fruits.
However, a pineapple crop requires only about a minimum of 15gm of nitrogen and potassium per plant head. It doesn’t require any application of phosphorous whatsoever except for otherwise low fertile soil types.
Application of nitrogen should be carried out in 6 equal split doses. The first dose should be applied after the first two months of planting the pineapples.
Pineapple harvesting. The duration for pineapple growth and yield totally depends on the type of cultivar used, the time of planting and also the climatic conditions around your farm area. Normally pineapples become ready for harvesting after about two years of planting. The fruiting season is normally from March through to late June. The fruit ripening process takes really long and usually lasts for about 5 to 6 months of the plant flowering. Irregularity in flowering can result in prolonged harvesting season. To address this, you should apply Ethrel solution at 100ppm at about one month before normal flowering begins, to ensure uniform flowering in the main harvesting season.
With the use of suckers for planting, ripening of the pineapples can summarily take a year and six months.
Yield. Pineapple farming generates really huge yields and can produce more than 70 tonnes of pineapple fruits per unit hectare depending on good farming techniques and proper farming management practices and skills.
Marketing. Pineapples have a very high demand in Akwa Ibom State local market. So, after planting and harvesting these sumptuous fruits, you want to make sure you have a ready market to carryout sales, which shouldn’t be too hard, because the fruit has high demand in Akwa Ibom State.
PINEAPPLE FARMING BUSINESS IN AKWA IBOM STATE
Pineapples are a trending delicacy in Akwa Ibom. And very soon most entrepreneurs will start investing in pineapple farming business within Akwa Ibom State. If you’re reading this article, you’re probably considering venturing into large scale pineapple farming too. Usually intending farmers in Akwa Ibom are faced with the problem of sourcing for a good planting site to establish their agricultural activities. If you’re one of those, you can contact
– Cross River Basin, and,
– The State Ministry of Agriculture
To access good planting space. Next you should write a pineapple farming business plan. So many grants are available now if you’re seeking for funding for your startup. Among these we have the Tony Elumelu Foundation Grant, and The Federal Government of Nigeria YouWin programme. Make good use of these opportunities.