Vegetable business in Nigeria

Vegetable Farming
Business In Nigeria,
Are You Going to Let
This Season Pass You
Every business in Nigeria shouldn’t
be about buying and selling,
vegetable farming is one aspect of
farming in Nigeria that is capable of
bringing quick cash to the would be
farmer this season. There are so
many people in the streets of Lagos
who have no business being in
Lagos. While they waste away in
poverty, hoping for a better
tomorrow; opportunity to make
good money through farming is
actually passing them by on daily
In Nigeria of those days, the term
‘Farmer’ is heavily associated with
poverty and illiteracy. But that was
then, not now anymore when
farmers are becoming the richest
people (I heard that one of the
richest man in China is a farmer)
and leaving the best of life possible.
Vegetable farming happens to be
one of the easiest agricultural
engagement, and any kind of edible
vegetable is always in hot demand
all year round. One good example
is Fluted Pumpkin (Telfairia
occidentalis) popularly known as
Ugu (It’s Igbo name) across Nigeria.
Ugu vegetable is by far, the most
consumed vegetable of any kind in
Nigeria. An acre size Ugu farm is
capable of turning in above
N500,000 and it will take you less
than N60,000 to cultivate one acre
farm of fluted pumpkin.
If you are in Lagos, the entire
Power Line of hundreds of Acres,
that stretched from Egbin power
station in Ijede, Ikorodu, down to
almost Ikorodu garage are
extremely good for Ugu farming and
you can get them almost free to
cultivate your pumpkin and other
Some popular Vegetables in
Nigeria that you can Cultivate
Fluted Pumpkin – Like I’ve said
before, Pumpkin vegetable is the
most consumed vegetable by
Nigerians of all class. It is used to
prepare varieties of dishes and it’s
very nutritious too. When you talk
about soup in Nigeria, you are
directly talking about ugu because,
almost all Nigerian soups are
cooked with this vegetable.
Apart from cooking, pumpkin
vegetable has been known to
increase the volume of the red
blood cell when consumed fresh,
without being cooked. It’s blood
enhancing nutrients gives it the
ability to expand the volume of your
blood at a very short time
after consumption!
It is of course natural for a
vegetable of these benefits and
usage to be in high demand, anyone
who can cultivate Ugu, is absolutely
going to make good money selling it
and can be cultivated in every part
of Nigeria due to the
plant’s tolerant of drought and poor
Green Okra – Okra, which is
popularly known as the lady’s
finger and gumbo, in many English
speaking countries is a very
nutritious edible green pod
vegetable. When sliced, the
okra’s edible green seed
pods produces slippery sticky
substance that make the soup tick,
smooth, and delicious. My personal
experience with okra shows that
eating fresh vegetable soup
prepared with plenty of okra can
relive constipation and increase
If you are a Nigerian, you don’t
need to be told about okra soup.
It’s one of the most popular soup in
Nigeria restaurants, usually
prepared with Ugu vegetable and
smoked fish – very delicious and
taste good.
Okra contains good amount of
Vitamin-A and is known to be anti-
oxidant due to it’s good content of
beta-carotene. It is also rich in
Vitamin-C, Vitamin-K, and some
form of Vitamin-B Complexes. Like
Fluted Pumpkin, it tolerate all kinds
of soil.
Cabbage – Cabbage is another
popular vegetable in Nigeria and is
popularly used to prepare salads.
The only part of the plant that is
normally eaten is the rounded leafy
head (the spherical cluster of
immature leaves) excluding the
partially unfolded outer leaves.
Because of it’s spicy flavor, Cabbage
is used in a variety of dishes, and is
widely consumed raw as well. It is
in high demand in Nigeria and sells
for reasonably good price.
Cabbage really does not like the
sun, it grows better in a cold
environment but must get at least 6
hours of sunlight everyday. It grows
well on a well fertile, well drained
manured soil.
Cucumber – As I always says: Great
skin starts with Cucumber; If you
really want your skin to be happy,
your number one answer is
cucumber. This is because,
cucumber and skin is known to
share the same level of hydrogen
content, which makes it easier for
cucumber to deal with the skin
problems by engulfing them. It
works well in soothing, softening,
and relaxing your skin very quickly.
Cucumber can be eaten raw and is
used for preparation of many kinds
of food in Nigeria. Cultivating this
vegetable will surely put money into
your pockets.
Cucumbers like every other
vegetables like soil that is well
drained and rich in organic matter,
but “don’t stress about the soil
conditions. Cucumbers are hearty
plants and easy to grow. Just make
sure they have full sunlight and soil
that is rich in organic matter.”
When you engage in farming, you
will have plenty of food to eat, you
sell to make good cash, and it gets
you closer to nature. These will
increase your overall well being as a
human-being. So, give it a trial
today and see yourself happy
Darlinton Omeh at Sunday, May 06,

Nigeria – Farming all year round 04 Jun 2010
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All seasons the year round, the place is
ever green. It cuts the picture of a well
cultivated and taken care of green belt.
And almost round the clock, an array of
workers scurry about bearing water cans,
their brown bodies glistering with sweat.
The crowd on this belt however varies in
composition depending on the time of
the day. Some women could be sighted
holding heated discussions with their
male counterparts. Which ever way one
looks at it, the fact remains that a bustling
business holds here daily. Welcome to a
part of the Ojo Local Government Area of
Lagos State where urban farming thrives.
It is a fact that many towns and cities in
Nigeria grew out of farming and fishing
communities where agriculture had, in
the past, been the major occupation of
the inhabitants. However, since the
advent of western education and white
collar jobs coupled with the discovery of
petroleum in commercial quantity a lot of
Nigerians especially the youth have
abandoned the farms for the city in
search of jobs which in most cases are
non existent.
As the population of cities like Lagos,
Abuja and Port-Harcourt continue to grow
with the attendant increase demands on
food and shelters many people are now
turning to what is called ‘urban farming’.
It is an important source of supply in
urban food systems. Urban farming is also
a good source of food security options for
households in the cities in the face of
serious unemployment crisis in the
Urban farming is not a Nigerian thing
because according to a report by the
United Nations Organisation (UNO) it is
estimated that about 200 million urban
dwellers participate in urban farming all
over the world. The report also
maintained that urban agriculture is
gaining greater attention and has been
expanding in many countries such as
China, Singapore, Kenya, Uganda, Togo,
Sierra Leone and including Nigeria.
However, most urban farmers in the
country are low-income men and women
who grow food largely for self-
consumption and cash income, on small
plots that they do not own, with little if
any support or protection from the
One place where urban farming can easily
be noticed in the country is Lagos. Lagos,
being Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre
with the greatest concentration of
manufacturing and service industries,
attracts people from all over the country.
Although these urban farmers cultivate
different food crops such as maize and
cassava but the most widely spread is
vegetable because of its high demand.
Vegetables are among the major dietary
intake of the everyday life. Vegetables,
eaten fresh or boiled, are also an
important diet relished in many local
Nigerian cuisines and delicacies.
Vegetables include African spinach, water
leaf, fluted pumpkin, lettuce, cabbage and
a host of others. They are used wholly or
partly as food. Vegetables are grown
mainly for their leaves and they
contribute to a balanced diet particularly
among the rural poor where animal
protein is deficient.
The presence of vegetable in daily diet
has been strongly associated with
reduced risk for some forms of cancer,
heart diseases, stroke and other chronic
diseases. Some components of vegetables
are strongly antioxidants and function to
modify the metabolic activation and
detoxification/disposition of carcinogens
and even influence processes that alter
the effect of tumour cells. With all this
benefit no wonder that governments in
the country are making efforts to
Increasing its production.
An important observation, however, is
that commercial vegetable production is
intensive and is at its peak during the dry
season months of November to March.
Three factors discourage intensive
production during the wet season. One is
the high incidence of pests and diseases;
another is that farm sites are located in
low-lying areas that are flooded during
the rainy season; and thirdly, and most
important, is the decline in vegetable
prices as a result of increased supply to
the urban markets from the rural areas
during the wet season. Some problems
associated with commercial vegetable
production include lack of access to land,
credit and appropriate technologies.
These problems are compounded by the
migrant status of vegetable farmers.
One area where we have the greatest
concentration of vegetable farmers in
Lagos is Ojo Local Government Area of
the state because of its low land values
and access to major motorways.
Location is very essential to the farmers
in order to attract consumers, so they
prefer land sites close to major highways
and roads. Many of the farmers
interviewed by Compass Life on one of
these farms located opposite the Lagos
State University (LASU) were from the
northern states with very few from the
southern part of the country.
It was noticed that those from the
northern part of the country carried the
agricultural and irrigation traditions from
their home states to Lagos where the
market potential for vegetable production
is more promising.
According to those of them who spoke
with Compass Life, commercial vegetable
farming is, however, considered a
temporary, off-season employment
opportunity that is used to maintain a
constant flow of income during the dry
season by most of them as they return to
their home states during the raining
One of those interviewed is Alhaji Umoru,
from Kano State. He is married to two
wives and he has three kids. According to
him “I plant vegetables such as green,
shoko, spinach, ewedu, garden egg leaves.
We started this place like 20 years ago,
and the land belongs to the military.
When Compass Life enquired how they
sell their products, Umoru said, “some
market women come here to buy and we
sell per bed, each bed might cost N400 to
N500 depending on how much you spent
in planting a bed. Sometimes you spent
N200 in planting a bed and at the end of
harvesting, you end up selling it for
According to him they, they buy their
species from Kano. Umoru added that in
starting up the business one can start
with about N50,000, but the major
challenges we face here is that sometimes
when it rains constantly, erosion destroys
some of our plant” adding that “while
planting we use fowl droppings, fertilizer
and gamaline because of the worms that
eat up the seeds.”
Another farmer who identified himself as
Mr White Nnawaebi from Ika Local
Government Area of Delta State said that
he started vegetable farming in 1999.
To him, the business has been
encouraging in the sense that it pays his
bills and he is not looking for any other
job. According to him the major problems
faced by the farmers are pests and
“It is difficult taking care of the worms
eating up our leaves and we also lack
fertilizer at times,” Nnawaebi added.
He however informed that he does not
do the job alone, he hires labourers at
times to help him on his farmland.
“I hire labourers doing planting and I pay
them per bed depending on what I am
planting. Most times I pay N200 per bed
and they can plant more than 20 beds for
me which is about N4000 a day, but at
times they collect more than that
depending on the plant and season.”
Nnawaebi further noted that, they don’t
pay for the land because it belongs to the
Nigeria Army. He added that the
vegetables are harvested within different
“Spinach grows within 21days before
harvest. Ewedu grows about one month,
Shoko about 21days, Igbo which is the
garden egg leave, grow about one month,
and we get the species from the North;
the northerners bring them for us. You
buy as much as you want at least for
N500 which is the least per sachet.
“The market women come here to buy
and they buy it per bed, which has no
fixed price depending on the demand. I
sell my spinach for N400 to N600
according to its size.” Nnawaebi however
called for government support.
“If the government can support us,
particularly in the area of providing
insecticide so that we can solve problems
of the worms eating up our vegetable, it
would go a long way in improving our
Patrick Onyemiki is another vegetable
farmer who carries out his trade in the
same location. In a chat with Compass
Life he said: “I started the vegetable
business in 2004 which is about six years
now and in every month I make like
N20,000 to N30,000. But the only
challenge we encounter on this farm is
erosion. Most times the place is always
He added that they don’t have the means
of exporting their produce directly but
people who come around to buy do so.
Daniel Aka from Cross River State has also
been in this business for 10years adding
that: “We don’t have good market
system. The market is not well regulated.
Then we also have problems of the worms
that eat up our crops which can not all be
killed by gamaline.
“I have about 60 beds and I do the
planting and harvesting alone. Most times
we can’t predict the selling price because
at times the market falls and some times
it rises. When there is high demand we
sell for N400 to N500 but when the
demand is low we sell for N300 to N400
per bed. But if you get a labourer to work
for you it will cost you like N150 for both
planting and also putting the manures and
fertilizer and the gamaline.
While speaking with some of the workers,
Usman Ibrahim, who has been at the farm
settlement for for over five years said all
he does is to plant and wet people’s
According to him, he and his colleagues
charge per bed. “ To plant and wet a bed
cost N20 depending on the season, the
demand and kind of plant. During the dry
season we charge more than N20.
Sometimes we collect N30 to N50 per
bed,” he said.
Sule Dangori is another labourer at the
farm, he has been on the farm for seven
years, while speaking with Compass Life,
it was discovered that most labourers
make up to N1,500 a day.
According to Dangori he plants more than
40 beds a day, but during the dry season
it is more than 60. “I plant more than 40
beds a day and I charge N20 for each, but
during the dry season I charge N30 to
N40 depending on the species.”

ISHS Acta Horticulturae 296:
Tropical Fruits, XXIII I.H.C.
Author: S. Dittoh
Dry season vegetable production
in Nigeria has become such an
important income generating
occupation that there is always
shortage of suitable land for the
numerous producers. Production
is undertaken under irrigation and
is characterised by intense mixed
cropping. Four main types of
irrigation systems can be
distinguished; the “traditional”
shaduf, small pump informal (i.e.
privately owned), small scale
formal (i.e. government schemes)
and medium scale formal
(government schemes).
The paper discusses and
compares the costs and returns
structures in the production of
vegetables (tomatoes, peppers,
onions, garden eggs, carrots and
others) under the four irrigation
systems. The aim is to compare
profitability under the various
systems and identify factors that
enhance profitability.
The results indicate that losses
are incurred by farmers who use
the shaduf system while the
highest profits are made under
the small scale informal system
inspite of the fact that
government subsidises the
operations of the formal systems.
Small scale informal irrigation is
however too limited and
rudimentary and the future of dry
season vegetable production
under irrigation cannot depend on
such a system. Also increasing
costs of imported pumps might
force farmers back to the
unprofitable shaduf system unless
the formal irrigation schemes are
improved upon.
The paper concludes that the
future of irrigated vegetable
production in Nigeria lies in a well
articulated formal/informal
irrigation integration based on
small/medium scale irrigation
schemes which are capable of
catering for a relatively large
number of producers.

How to Grow
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A vegetable garden can be the perfect
addition to your landscape. Growing your
own vegetables organically ensures
healthful produce and saves you the high
prices of organically grown produce at the
grocery store.
Up Next
Growing Root Crops
Growing Tender Vegetables Green Garden Products
When thinking about how to start growing
vegetables, the first thing you’ll want to
look at is seeds and placement.
Situate your vegetable garden in a sunny
place and start growing food early in the
spring. Keep planting all summer long so
something fresh and tasty is always ready
to harvest.
Place the garden near your kitchen. It will
be easy to run out and pick a few things
you need, and you can spy on the garden
from your window. Picking tomatoes after
you see them blush crimson is a perfect
way to get them at their best.
Soak seeds to get a jump on the season.
Before germinating, seeds need to drink
up moisture, just as if drenched by spring
rains. Once they become plump and
swollen, the little embryo inside will
begin to grow.

Bulb vegetables
Water chestnuts
Fruit vegetables

Urban horticulture thriving, surviving
in Nigeria, says FAO
Nigeria is urbanising at an intense pace,
generating little or no jobs for poor
households dwelling in slums – 70
percent of Lagosians live in shanty towns
and spend more than three-quarters of
their income on food. By 2030, it’s
estimated that 156 million Nigerians will
be living in urban areas.
Nevertheless, commercial urban and peri-
urban horticulture (UPH) hubs in Lagos,
Oyo, Rivers, Kogi, Plateau, Borno, Kano
and Niger States are surviving and
thriving. A report: Growing Greener
Cities in Africa, by the Food and
Agricultural Organisation (FAO) contends
that green cities have been thriving on
the continent.
Still UPH is Nigeria’s best kept secret.
Economic development plans like NEEDS
ignored it; “the word appears in only
three of 37 state strategies.”
Urban poverty and a teeming population
of unemployed youth is a worry to state
governors. Governor Rotimi Amaechi of
Rivers state, during a recent tour of
Germany, invited German businesses to
“go to the north” to invest in Nigeria’s
agriculture. “There is an unemployment
situation in Nigeria and I don’t think that
technology would solve the problem.
What will solve the problem is
agriculture”. Governors from Enugu,
Niger, Plateau Borno and Kastina states
were part of the entourage.
In Ojo, Lagos state, farmers from
Northern Nigeria are occupied in a
profitable, temporary business. Using
frugal inputs like poultry manure and
urban wastewater they are farming on
the periphery. In the dry season, leafy
vegetables, cucumbers and eggplants are
grown near Lagos by “circular migrant”
farmers. During the rainy season, they
return home to cultivate staple crops.
UPHs in Ibadan “provide as much has 80
percent of the vegetable supply…on
some 320 ha of plots”. Port Harcourt’s
expanding flower and vegetables market
though dominated by well educated men,
is doing great business on rented land
along the city’s roads. However, women
are increasingly working in market
gardens. Commercial urban farming in
Nigeria started late 1970s when the
Operation Feed the Nation (OFN) was
launched. OFN urged urban residents to
use “vacant land as source of food and
income.” At the time, Nigeria’s urban
population was 16.6 million with 48
million in rural areas.
Today it’s the reverse. Half of Nigerians
(80.6 million) now live in urban areas,
according to the FAO. Despite lack of
land, insecure property rights, gender
disparity, poor linkages between
extension services and growers, and
inputs, commercial garden farmers are
feeding the nation.
“A study in Ibadan found that vegetable
production generated individual incomes
of up to US$3 000 a year for a network of
producers, input suppliers and vegetable
traders.” Women get the short end of the
stick in Lagos, according to a study on
commercial gardening in Lagos. “Men
tended to grow vegetables that sold for
higher prices, and women’s plots were
smaller and on less fertile land.”
For growers across the country, land is
the main obstacle. Commercial garden
farmers have to compete for land with
other urban needs as cities’ built-up area
grows. For example, “Kano State’s Land
Use Act of 1979 makes no provision for
urban crop production.”
Farmers cultivate the land with the fear
of evictions or compulsory acquisitions of
land for construction.” Insecure title
deeds and urban development are a
“major threat”. Applying for bank loans
are not farmers’ priority.
In the absence of bank loans, non-
financial intermediaries supply informal
credit. But farmers make a loss after
paying debts incurred before planting.
FAO notes that “gardeners’ incomes
usually depend on the length of the
marketing chain.” For instance, “in
Ibadan, [farmers] keep [the marketing
chain] short by selling directly to the
public at the ‘farm gate’.”
Vegetables are profitable when fresh.
McKinsey consumer survey found that
less-affluent Nigerian consumers relish
fresh vegetables.
Lack of “policy and institutional support,
water, credit, inputs, agricultural
extension advice, improved technologies
and marketing infrastructure” has not
deterred growers. But they can’t keep
relying only on rain-fed harvest. Financial
and natural insecurity reduce supply and
increase the cost of their products in the
market. Otherwise, cheaper fresh
produce have to be imported.
State governors can copy the Lagos State
model. An inventory of suitable places for
UPH conducted in 2010 found “675 ha of
prime arable land along natural channels,
3,300 ha of highway, railway and power
line corridors, 250 ha on military estates,
100 ha in residential buffer zones and 75
ha of vacant residential lots.”
To maximise these spaces, the state’s
ministries of justice, agriculture,
environment, planning and urban
development have been advised to come
up with an urban agriculture policy. Such
laws will promote and protect urban
You can convert that
land to vegetable
garden to earn
As the effect of
harsh economy with
the attendant high
cost of living lingers,
that piece of land
you own but cannot
develop could
become a piece of
cake. After all, no matter how bad the
economy may be, you must eat to
So, turning it into a farmland or vegetable
garden could earn you good money, if you
put pride aside.
You may have planned to use the returns
from your investment in stocks on
theNigerian Stock Exchange and other
areas of investment to develop your
piece of land.
But unfortunately, stock prices have
persistently been crashing for some years
now. In the same way, naira value keeps
depreciating. Consequently, individuals
and organizations have no choice but to
adjust to the situation by applying
different measures that will keep life
You may have been adversely affected by
the reforms in the financial sector, which
led to job losses and salary cut; your
hope is not dashed as you can earn an
average of N60,000 monthly by
converting that your piece of land to a
vegetable garden.
If you are patient enough, you can as well
raise money from the sale of the
vegetables, which you can use to build at
least a boys’ quarters for a start. For
instance, Usman Umaru, a gardener, hails
from Sokoto but is in Lagos making
fortune from vegetable business. He
plants six different kinds of vegetables –
ranging from green (spinach), cabbage,
ewedu, shoko, igo, and scent leaf (ifiri).
These vegetables mature after one
month, according to him. He sells the
vegetables per bed. For example, he sells
green at the rate of N300 per bed, and
he has about 200 beds, which sums up to
about N60,000. Cabbage sells for N500
per bed.
This could be multiplied by 15 beds,
which gives about N7,500. In the same
way, ewedu goes for N400 per bed, and
he has about 15 beds. Umaru makes
N30,000 from 100 beds of shoko
vegetable, which he sells at the rate of
N300 per bed.
He simultaneously makes N7,600 from
19 beds of igovegetable, which also costs
N400 per bed; while he sells afiri
vegetable at the rate of N300 per bed,
and this gives him about N7,500 for 25
However, he rents the portion of land
where he grows his vegetables at the
rate of N10,000 monthly. He buys a bag
of fertilizer at the rate of N7,000.
To supplement the fertilizer, he buys 20
bags of manure at the rate of N400. He
uses five bottles of gamelan insecticide,
which sells for N1,000 per bottle, control
pests on his garden.
He also spends about N1,000 for
vegetable seedsand nursery. It is amazing
that Umaru, who does not have house or
property in Lagos, earns enough to train
his children in school and to cater to his
entire family.
If you do not have a piece of land and
you wish to set up a vegetable garden,
experts have come up with instructions
that will guide you through putting up
aperfect garden plan. They advise that
before you start a garden, you have to
figure out where you are going to put it.


3 thoughts on “Vegetable business in Nigeria

  1. It’s splendid, am already into the business which i planted ugu, watermellon, okro, corn, cassava, pepper, tomato and so on. I want a reliable person in abroad which i can be sending my product to.

  2. I planted cucumber and am looking for buy,i do not hv access to my email now,so i prefer sms,08060206754.Thks.

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