It is a prevalent knowledge that cucumbers are among the healthiest vegetables that we have worldwide. In fact, the health benefits that can be derived from the consumption of this underrated vegetable is so prominent that medical specialists and experts recommend that people include cucumbers in their diets and meal plans to prevent several life threatening diseases.
Wondering what good could come out of consuming this vegetable?
Look no further!
Formerly known by their binomial name Cucumis Sativus, cucumbers are notable for containing many nutritional benefits, including hydrating properties (since research has proven that cucumbers are 95 percent water), weight-loss benefits (since they are also very low in calories, carbs, and fat), anti-cancer benefits (scientists have long discovered that the two phytonutrient that are contained in cucumbers, lignans and cucurbitacins, are associated with anti-cancer benefits), healthy skin benefits, to mention but a few.
According to Ansley Hill, a nutritionist, a 1/2-cup (52-gram) serving of cucumbers provides about 11% of the daily recommendation for vitamin K, a nutrient that has been proven to play an important role in blood clotting and bone health.
Cucumbers also contain an anti-inflammatory substance called fisetin which is known for aiding brain health by maintaining cognitive function in persons that have Alzheimer’s disease.
Furthermore, the flavonoids and tannins found in cucumbers have been shown to restrain the flow of free radicals in the body and to aid in reducing pain.
Why invest in cucumber farming?
Cucumbers are not only popular for their health benefits, they are also well known for their lucrative nature. Thus, entrepreneurs have a whole lot to gain from investing in cucumber farming. Cucumbers have a very high consumption rate and as such, the demand for it increases tremendously.
This insinuates that entrepreneurs who invests in cucumber farming have an upper hand in making profits given that the market is large and ever-present. If you haven’t already noticed, the value and importance attached to agriculture in Nigeria has been growing.
Agriculture is undeniably the most profitable and high profile sector in the country now. There are so many opportunities in Nigerian agribusiness, so many possible agricultural business endeavours waiting to be optimised, and cucumber farming is one of those opportunities that are pleading to be considered. Thus, if you’re looking for a lucrative agricultural business to hop onto, cucumber farming may just be for you!
How to start cucumber farming
If you have decided to venture into cucumber farming, bear in mind that it isn’t a tough work. The only hard work that may be involved is the preparation of beds, and you need not do this by yourself. You could pay experienced labourers to carry out the job for you. Furthermore, you do not need a huge amount of money to venture into cucumber farming. All that matters is that you obtain the needed things prior to going into absolute farming.
In fact, you are likely to acquire a huge profit out of the small capital you invested. Cucumber farming can also be done without so much experience. However, it is advisable to initially do a trial farming before starting out fully so as to ascertain the best management practices to use.
Lets consider the steps that are requisite to starting your own cucumber farm.
Step 1 : Orchestrate a practicability analysis
As it is with every business venture, you need proper research, adequate planning, and understanding of what the business entails.
Carry out a feasibility study to help you understand how to start and maintain a cucumber farm.
Understand the specie of cucumbers that thrive in the area in which you may intend to have your farm, the necessary capital, possible competitors, and prospective customers.
This will enable you in choosing a suitable marketing method that would attract customers once your crop is ready for harvest.
Step 2: Make a business plan
Having a well structured business plan is very essential in starting a cucumber farm. A business plan is very much necessary if you are going to manage your farm in an organised and structured way.
A typical farmer may not attach too much importance to having an operational business plan, but having one would give you a solid edge over others.
If you do not have sufficient capital to start up your cucumber farm, with a structured business plan, you will find it easy enough to attract bank loans, grants given by government, and private investors who are willing to invest in your farm.
Step 3: Select an ideal site and location
In Nigeria, there is a general assumption that if you do not reside in the north, you have little chance of doing well in agriculture.
This assumption is grossly untrue as the two basic essentials for planting cucumbers are healthy and fertile soil, and an adequate supply of water.
So, if you intend to start your farm in any location in Nigeria, you can and will be successful in it as long as these two essentials are present.
It is however important to note that the kind of land you select goes a long way to determine your success, and so it is important that you choose a farmland in a fertile and humid area because cucumbers grow best in lands with rich and humid soil.
The advantage of choosing such kind of farmland is that it limits the over head costs of getting water for irritating the vegetables and as such, enabling them to produce big and greenish specie of cucumbers that are greatly sought after. Thus, when your farmland is close to a water bed, you spend little or no cost on irrigation and you make more profit.
Step 4: Preparation of land and cucumber planting
Land preparation is undoubtedly the most pivotal step in cucumber farming. This is because of the technicalities involved in getting the land ready.
Thus, it is important that you give it your utmost concentration.
To prepare your land for planting, the following steps are to be carried out:
1. Clear out the land in the manner with which you intend to plant the cucumbers.
2. Till the land and make ridges or beds on it. This is to aid in loosening the soil in order to gain productive growth and weed control. Also, it is important to have your farm land layout in rows and columns so as to allow for convenient human passage, easy harvesting, and weeding.
3. After clearing and tilling the soil, moisten up the ground by adding fertilizer. This is very important if you’re not a fan of organic farming. If you would be practicing organic farming, dress the bed with organic manure such as cow or poultry dung.
4. In addition to moistening, treat the soil by applying insecticide.
5. Afterwards, plant your cucumber in an exceeding hole of 2.5cm deep and an area of 50cm from one another so as to ensure that it grows on its own without having to be troubled against themselves.
Types of cucumber seeds to use
The seeds that you use also goes a long way in determining the success of your cucumber farm. Thus, you need to decide if you want a local or a foreign seed, an open or a closed seed, and a hybrid or general seed. When you know the right seeds to plant, you would also know how to handle them as they grow. Also, choosing the right seeds determine how long you can harvest as the nature of seeds influences their growth pattern. Some seeds bring produce 3-5 times before they wither. Some go 5-10 times, and a select few go 15-20 times.
Most people give preference for hybrid seeds, given that they have already been treated. Some seeds can bring forth a tonne of cucumber on each harvest per hectare of land; some others can yield about 2-3 tonnes of cucumber in similar agricultural condition.
Step 5: Labour
Labour is another very essential necessity that can cripple your cucumber farming if there’s no proper plan for it. As entrepreneurs, it is advisable to start small with one plot of land so as to handle most of the labour yourself while preparing to expand into a large scale.
This will also reduce your expenses as well as increase your profit. However, if you choose to go straight for the top and start big, or if you’re expanding your small business, you will need to hire labour.
Labour could become your biggest challenge because hiring lazy and incompetent labourers could be bad for your business.
Step 6: Irrigation
Given that 95% of cucumber composition is water, there is need for adequate and constant supply of water to your farm.
Without water, your cucumber farm is as good as dead even before your first harvest.
It is futile to depend on rain as your source of water alone, so if your land is not situated at a humid environment, it is best that you dig a well very close to the land for adequate water supply.
If your plants lack sufficient water, the predominant consequence is that the cucumbers will have a bitter taste.
Have you ever tasted a bitter cucumber? Trust me, they’re even rejected by animals.
Step 7: Harvesting
Cucumbers are usually harvested before they fully mature, that is, about 40-60 days after they have been sowed. Of course, this depends on the kind of seed planted and the availability of nutrients contained in the soil. Also, the harvest time is dependent on climate changes and so harvesting could be done everyday and as when due.
Cucumbers that are large and somehow yellowish on the vine sometimes become very bitter. Hence, it is important that you harvest them from the vine before they turn yellow.
Cucumbers that should be harvested should be between 5-11 inches. A noticeable fact about cucumber is that those planted with the use of organic manure and fertilizers are usually sweeter, more attractive and more expensive than the inorganic ones.
Marketing your cucumbers
The great news is that cucumbers market themselves!
You hardly sweat or struggle to sell your cucumbers. You can choose to retail them or sell them as wholesale in a market close to you. For your cucumber to market itself, ensure that they are big, green,fresh, attractive and juicy.
You can supply your cucumber produce to vegetables and fruits sellers/dealers, local market retailers and even to hawkers.
Just ensure to get your distribution network ready as the cucumbers are approaching their maturity stage just before harvesting. This would make the marketing process as seamless as possible.
Challenges of cucumber farming
1. Lack of experience
2. Insufficient financial resources
3. Incompetent Labour
4. Storage limitations
5. Equipment impediments
6. Lack of adequate marketing strategy
Cucumbers are currently in high demand and so as long as you inform customers around that you have fresh cucumbers from your own farm, you wouldn’t encounter any problem with sales.
Starting the business of cucumber farming , sales and supplies is one of the best and most lucrative agribusiness you can ever get involved in.
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About The Writer: This article was written by Salome Precious. She is senior content developer at myafribusiness.com. She is an accountant by training and a business enthusiast by passion.
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