Do you know that there’s high demand for egusi in Nigeria and outside her borders?
Do you also know that most entrepreneurs haven’t seen the gold mine in egusi farming, hence this eye opening piece.
Egusi soup is undeniably one of the most loved soups in Nigeria. If you embark on a survey or research mission, you would discover that in almost every Nigerian home, egusi soup takes precedence over every other soup. Of course, the reason for this is not far fetched given that the soup is made with the wonderful and popular seeds of the “wild watermelon” commonly known as egusi.
The Hausas call it miyan gushi; the Yorubas call it efo elegusi, and the igbos call it egusi. The botanical name for the seed is Citrullus colocynthis, and it has some other names such as colocynth, bitter apple, bitter cucumber, desert gourd, vine of sodom, and wild gourd.
Egusi seeds are seeds that are gotten from melon pods when planted. In the West African region, the name Egusi is given to members of the gourd family which have seeds with high oil content. However, the Egusi melons that we all know are a genus of the watermelon species and they are of tropical African origin. Egusi melon plants are not dissimilar to watermelon plants. They both have deeply cut lobed leaves and a non climbing creeping manner. The mush of the watermelon fruit is sweet and consumable while that of the Egusi melon is bitter and unfit for human consumption.
Health Benefits of Egusi
Other than the tasty soup that Egusi melon is known for, there are several health benefits attached to this tiny seed which are vital for children, young and old, men and women. The vitamins that are contained in melon seed supply prodigious benefits to the body. The existence of vitamin B1 (thiamine) and vitamin B2 (riboflavin) helps to improve appetite as well as enable the fats and oil in the body to undergo the procedure of metabolism.
Also, vitamin E helps in improving the skin and is sometimes used in the production of skin care products as a result of its great advantage to the skin. The alpha-tocopherol contained in Egusi seed serves as an antioxidant by preventing cells from damage and as vitamin E it aids in improving the skin, preventing ageing and improving fertility.
Egusi melon is also known for its increasing ability to aid digestion. Its content of dietary fibre further enhances digestion process and in so doing, helps to prevent digestive disorders. Egusi also contains a great amount of unsaturated fatty acids that are beneficial for the heart. It contains minerals such as calcium, potassium, phosphorous and magnesium which are requisite in the formation and development of bones and the blood cells. Research has long proven that 40 percent of the Egusi melon seed is made up of protein, and as such, it is an excellent nutrition source.
In addition, aside being a good source of protein, egusi melon seeds are highly rich in oil. Oil is sometimes extracted from the seeds and used in cooking. It can also be processed into vegetable oil or used as engine oil for aircraft.
Quite interesting! The benefits of Egusi melon are inexhaustible and as such, it is indeed important to start considering this seed in your dietary choices.
Why Invest In Egusi Farming?
Despite the fact that Egusi is highly consumed in Nigeria, the cultivation rarely allures any notable recognition. The government itself has not originated any programme to stimulate its innate potentiality in order to refine the household income in poor communities. It is sad that a lot of people are yet to discover the great advantage of melon farming.
The value of growing melon cannot be over emphasized. Melon farming business is a very profitable business for anyone seeking to earn financial freedom. Other than the very many health benefits, egusi melon has a whole lot of financial benefits.
Egusi farming is very sustainable because of its high demand and as such, both the rich and poor buy it, whether it is costly or not. As earlier said, egusi farming is very cheap to start up and it is one of the most expensive household foodstuff that can be afforded by the rich and poor alike in Nigeria today.
Below are the basic steps you should take to start egusi farming business:
1. Create a business plan
Like every other enterprise, egusi farming would thrive better when you have a good and feasible business plan. If you intend to start a commercial and profit-based melon farming business, you would need to come up with a plan for your business. A business plan would solidify your abstract plan for your farm. It would also serve as a guide, as well as aid you in accessing governmental agricultural loans and attracting investors to your farm.
2. Land selection and preparation
Melon seed requires just the right amount of water and so they yield better results in soft and fertile soils. Once you have selected your farmland, you would need to prepare the land for cultivation. You would need to till or plot the ground. Clumps of hard soil would have to be broken down into a fine, loose mix.
The best time for planting melon in Nigeria is between the months of April and June. It is important that you raise beds on which to plant your seeds. Ensure that you cultivate your melon in sheltered places rather than in an open field.
Commercial farmers have recommended that in each hole, seeds should be planted at a minimum of 3 seeds and a maximum of 5 seeds, and each planting holes should be spaced by 20 inches/1m (3ft) apart. The holes should be 1.5-2cm deep. Emergence of the seeds occur in 4-7 days, and vines begin to form after 4 weeks of cultivating.
Melon seeds grow into vines, and as such, the vines should be supported with stakes once they start growing. The time for maturity for melon is 4-5 months. A single melon stem can yield a produce of about 10-15 heads, depending on the kind of seed and the quality of the soil.
Once you have planted your seeds, it is requisite that you water them regularly. It should be noted that melon tolerates dry to wet growing conditions, but the fruits mature only in dry conditions.
Harvest season for melon is between the months of October and December. The melon is harvested as soon as the stems are dry or once the melon gourds turn from green to a yellowish-white colour. Once the gourds have been harvested, they are to be broken with a hard stick (strictly use a hard stick and not a machete or a knife as some of the seeds could be sliced) and left for a maximum of two weeks to decompose.
After the decomposition, the seeds would be ready for collection. The seeds must be de-hulled before they can be used as food. After you have harvested your melon gourds, you can store the seeds for as long as you want. However, it should be noted that the seeds are prone to fungal diseases and should not be stored for too long.
Egusi has a relatively large market and so it would not be difficult to market your crop. Regardless of where you reside in the country, you are bound to receive great profit from your investment in Egusi farming.
You can supply your products to various wholesalers and retailers at various local markets within and outside your locality.
If you do not intend to start a commercial Egusi farm, you can use the seeds in whichever manner you like. You can grind it and use for your soup or sauce, or you can extract the oil for use. You can also roast the seeds and pound them afterwards to produce a peanut butter kind of paste which can be used for your bread (I’m certain you weren’t aware of this before now).
I hope this article has enlighten you on the potentials inherent in egusi farming. Don’t stop at just reading, act on this information today!
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