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Orchard Farm: Multimillion Naira Agricbusiness Venture



Leadership Nigeria News Today

If Agricbusiness is the business of Agricultural Production that includes crop production, animal rearing, seed supplies, Agrochemical, farm machinery, processing and packaging, marketing, retail sales and distribution which ultimate result, for any Agricultural related activity’s bottom line is profit, then orchard business will be a good Agricbusiness to venture into and it has good returns on investment after two to three years.

An orchard is an intentional planting of trees or shrubs that is maintained for food production. Orchards comprise fruit or nut producing trees which are generally grown for commercial production. With the increasing number of juice companies in Nigeria, orchard farmers will reap lots of benefits if the federal government implements a total ban on the importation of concentrates and other packaged juice products into the country.

Many farmers are raising orchard farms in the country with different types and verities of fruits for sale which are also available in commercial quantities in the country. An orchard can be homogeneous or heterogeneous i.e having only one type of crop or having two or more types of crops respectively depending on the choice of the farmer. These come with their individual advantages and disadvantages.

In 2010 August, Dangote Group, a leading manufacturer in the beverage and juice industry, declared by Mr Pankaj Kumar, managing director, Dangote Foods Ltd, a subsidiary of Dangote Group, that it has acquired about 400,000 hectares of land in Calabar, Cross River for its orchard farm. This is to be used to feed the growing juice sector, by now the fruits must have started fruiting. This is a serious Agricbusiness to venture into.

However most fruits consumed in Nigeria today are from different trees planted by our forefathers which are substantial yet the proceeds solve financial challenges faced by our locals. When it becomes a business to venture into, it becomes a money spinner at maturity. In Nigeria, orchard farming businesses are dominated by ex-military men and politicians but it’s a business any one can venture into and less than three years after, you will start making your money.

Fruits To Plant In Your Orchard In Nigeria
Mangoes, Sugarcane (ireke), Guavas, Avocados (butter fruit), Cashew, Bananas, Plantain, Pineapples, Star Apples (agbalumo, udara), Velvet Tamarind (awin, icheku),Oranges, Grapefruit (grapefruit),Tangerine/tangelo, Papaya (pawpaw, ibepe), Watermelon, Bell Apple, Coconut (agbon), Soursop (sharpsharp) etc. The improved seedlings are available for planting.

Things To Consider In Orchard Farming
Before a farmer embarks on developing an orchard, he should consider all the factors affecting the growth of plants and the performance of the orchard. Some of these factors include:
Type of Fruit: the type of fruit to be raised in an orchard is very essential as some fruits are not adapted to the type of vegetation belt where the intended land is situated and even with other components available, it won’t thrive. Hence, a farmer should ensure that he selects plants that will thrive in the vegetation belt he finds himself.
Land: the farmer should ensure that the available land for the project will not be a prospective land to be used for any other agricultural or non-agricultural project.

Topography: this is a huge factor that affects the performance of an orchard. Orchards are better situated on a gently undulating piece of land. This is to favour drainage of the soil through gravity while reducing the rate of erosion and runoff. Avoid very steep slopes.

Orchard layout: this is the pattern in which the crops will be planted in the orchard. There is a wide array of orchard layout but the most common is planting the plants in rows while cover crops are planted on the bare surface. In this way, tree crops can also serve as windbreak to reduce erosion and conserve soil nutrients and promote fertility.
Plant population: do not plant more plants than you can handle because if a plant can’t get enough attention and care from the farmer, it will not produce optimally.

Size of plant: the size of the plant determines if it can be planted in a prospective orchard land. Dwarf plants are usually preferable size of plants needed for planting an orchard as they are easily managed and harvested.
Time of planting: the time of planting directly affects the first stage of growth and development of plants. Hence, farmers should plant their crops at the appropriate time and season in the year for them to grow well. June-July is a god timing.

Requirements For An Orchard
The requirements for raising an orchard vary from place to place, depending on the factors mentioned above but the general requirement for raising an orchard are as stated below:

An orchard should be situated on a land with very fertile soil that is rich in organic matter. Loam is the best type of soil for raising an orchard as it provides all the required nutrients in the right quantity. Other soil types are applicable but not ideal especially clay. Should loam not be available, the soil can be improved by the farmer through some soil improvement practices using compost or fertilizers. This is to enhance the ability of the soil to favour the plant growth.