Potatoes are among the most commonly consumed root crops in Nigeria, probably second to yams. Different local delicacies are prepared from potatoes with the most common being boiled and fried potatoes. Do you know that potato farming in Nigeria is very lucrative?
You can either engage in sweet potato farming or Irish potato farming. Whichever you choose, you can rest assured that you will make a lot of profit, as long as you do it right. This post will focus on introducing you to potato farming in Nigeria. You will learn how to start as well as some of the popular potato species cultivated in this part of the world.
How to Start Potato Farming in Nigeria
Whether you want to begin Irish or sweet potato farming in Nigeria, the processes are quite similar. Here’s what you should do when you want to begin potato farming in Nigeria:
The first thing that you must do is to gain as much knowledge about potato farming in this part of the world. You need to understand the farming processes and techniques as well as the soil requirements to ensure a great yield. Also, you should speak to existing potato farmers to learn about their challenges and how to overcome them.
Other things you should find out include where to source your potato leaves for planting and how to market your products. Once you gather this information, you can put together a mini potato farming business plan. This plan will guide you through the business and could help you source capital.
This is another very important step you must take before you begin potato farming. Understand that you cannot run any business, including potato farming, without capital. Capital covers everything you need to run the farm. While funding is the main requirement, you also need farm equipment, land, and labor.
From your feasibility studies, you should have a clear picture of how much you need to set up your farm. There are several ways of raising capital such as personal savings, bank and government loans, angel investors, and government grants. Once you raise a substantial amount of capital, you can move on to the next step.
Find a suitable land
The land is a major investment that you must make when starting a potato farm. You cannot plant your potatoes on just any land. The land should be suitable for cultivating potatoes. A good way to find out is to carry out soil and water analysis of the land. From your feasibility studies, you should have specific requirements that land must meet to support the cultivation of potatoes.
The most suitable land types are loamy and sandy loam. The lands should be rich in organic matter, be loose, and offer very little resistance to the growth of tubers. You should also ensure that the land is properly aerated and possesses good drainage. Finally, your land should be slightly acidic with a pH range of between 5.2 and 6.4.
After purchasing or leasing the land for your potatoes, the next step is land preparation. Before you plant potatoes, you must carry out extensive land preparation. This is necessary since you cannot plant your potatoes among weeds.
Clear the farm to rid it of weeds and unwanted shrubs. After this, you should plow the soil and harrow it to ensure that you get rid of weed roots. If you are going into large-scale commercial potato farming in Nigeria, you should consider plowing the land between two and three times. Asides from ridding the soil of weeds and their roots, plowing makes the soil loose to allow for better aeration and drainage. If you feel there is a need, mix manure or inorganic fertilizer with the soil during this stage.
Choose your potato variety
While we are more familiar with potatoes being either sweet or Irish, they come in different varieties. These varieties have different shapes, colors, sizes, tastes, and cooking characteristics. There are a few factors that you should consider before choosing a variety of potatoes for cultivation. Check out these factors below:
Disease resistance depending on the location of your farm.
Yield or level of productivity.
Below is a list of some of the local potato varieties in Nigeria:
Here are some of the imported potato varieties that are regarded as highly disease-resistant and high yielding:
Plant your potatoes
The planting process for Irish potatoes is different from sweet potatoes. For the former, you need to carry out seed propagation, while you need to only plant the stems with the latter. Usually, you can plant your potatoes at the beginning of the rainy season.
One of the key factors that you must remember when planting potatoes is the soil temperature. According to experts, potatoes will begin to germinate when the soil temperature rises to about 45 F. Ensure that the soil is moist but not waterlogged to protect your potato seeds from rot. From your feasibility studies, you should learn more about how to plant either Irish or sweet potatoes.
This involves the practices that you carry out to ensure that the farmland is conducive to the growth of your potatoes. Chief among the farm management processes is ridding the farm of weeds as your potatoes grow. If the land isn’t so large, we advise that you take out the weeds manually by weeding.
You can employ the use of herbicides on large potato farms. However, you must be careful in choosing your herbicides since potatoes are very sensitive to chemicals. Make sure that you ask the relevant questions before buying and applying any herbicide on your farm.
Harvesting and marketing your potatoes
Potatoes mature between 3 and 4 months. The way to know that your potatoes are ready for harvesting is that the vine tops begin to wither. Make sure that you don’t damage your potatoes while digging them out of the ground.
You can sell your potatoes in the local market or any other location of your choice. We suggest that you decide on your market before you even begin your potato farm. This way, you don’t keep your potatoes too long before selling.
That’s it for how to start potato farming in Nigeria. This post has shown you how to start a potato farm in Nigeria and the different varieties of potatoes you can plant. Do you have any questions? Kindly drop them in the comments section.