The contribution of agriculture to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product GDP has witnessed a steady climb over the years. In 2017 alone, agriculture contributed 25.49% to Nigeria’s total GDP. This is impressive especially if compared to previous years where its contribution was very meager. Although there is improvement in this sector, much needs to be done. This article focuses on a very important crop; Carrot. Why are we discussing about carrot farming in Nigeria? Apart from its high commercial value, this crop also has a lot of health benefits. Carrots are a good source of Vitamin A. Other vitamins include D, C, E and K in addition to Calcium Potassium and Magnesium.
Why You Should Consider Carrot Farming
Apart from its health benefits as outlined above, the economic angle is also important. Carrots are widely consumed across Nigeria. Its high demand makes it very lucrative and financially rewarding. It is necessary to know that you do not need a vast land before you can start. This is in addition to improved agricultural practices. In other words, improved seedlings coupled with improvements in the utilization of space has made it much more profitable. Carrots are consumed in a variety of ways by Nigerians. Hence the farmer has an assurance of a continuous demand which is good for business.
Choosing a Carrot Variety to Cultivate
There are varieties of carrot seedlings which are cultivated in Nigeria. Some of these include the Danvers variety; which are normally larger in size when compared with other types, and require soils rich in nutrients to thrive. Others are the Nantes, Amsterdam, and Chantanay among others. Your choice of any of these variety will depend on your soil type. Most of these variety do well on rich soils. Carrots will generally do well on sandy or loamy soils. Carrots do well on well drained soils. Water-logged areas do not support good yield.
Land Preparation and Planting
When cultivating carrots, there are particular areas where carrots will do well. This is not the same for other areas. So what makes a soil ideal for carrot cultivation or not? When cultivating carrots, you should avoid rocky or stony areas. This is because they may obstruct the downward growth of carrots. Carrots are taproots that penetrate or grow downward. As a result, stunted growth may result. In view of this, it is necessary to have a loose soil. Most farmers make ridges for planting their carrots. These ridges are normally higher than those for planting a crop like maize.
The reasons for making the ridges high is for maximum penetration by the carrot. This enables the crop to attain the desired lenght, size and shape. Your carrot seedlings are normally sold in packets. A stick or hoe is used to draw a line across the length of the ridge. The seeds are evenly sprinkled along the groove or line made on the ridge. The groove is then covered with stalks of grass or corn. This is meant to prevent the birds from picking the seeds. Other uses include the prevention of direct sunlight which may kill off the young carrot plant as well as shielding it from strong rains which may also damage it. The same process applies for irrigation farming.
Tending Your Crop
After cultivation, you must follow up with tending the crop. The stalk used to cover the seedlings are raised when the seeds start to germinate. This is to allow for ample space for your carrots to grow. However because they are still young, the stalks are not totally removed. Instead they are raised by placing short sticks at intervals underneath the stalks to allow for aeration and growth. These are eventually removed when the stems have developed to withstand direct sunlight, and rain. The thinning process follows after a few weeks. Thinning is necessary to allow for adequate spacing between carrot plants.
If this process is not adhered to, the carrots will hardly achieve the desired size. This significantly drops its market value. You need to apply fertilizer after thinning to encourage growth and development. As your plants become more mature, it will require more soil around its roots.
Selling Your Produce
The last step in the process of starting a carrot farming business is disposing or selling off your produce. It is necessary to make all the necessary enquiries about buyers. When your carrots are almost mature, vegetable markets are ideal places to dispose them. Other likely buyers include restaurants, hotels and so forth. Before selling, it will be helpful to visit the market to keep up with current prices. This will place you in a better bargaining position to market your crops. These are the basics of starting a carrot farming business in Nigeria.