For many generations, many misconceptions about Nigeria being unable to grow apples, but here’s a proven fact, you can start apple farming in Nigeria.
Yes, we called it (the myth that apple cannot grow in Nigeria) a misconception because Apples can be grown in Nigeria, just like how it is grown in China (apples largest producer), the USA and South Africa. And to the greatest surprise of many Nigerians, Apple is presently farmed in Nigeria, with Nigeria contributing over 50,000 tonnes to the 70 million tonnes produced worldwide yearly.
The questions on the mind of many would be; if 70 million tonnes of apples are produced worldwide, why is Nigeria producing as low as 50,000 tonnes? The reason for the low yearly production of Apple in Nigeria is because first of all Apple is a temperate plant (this is what gave rise to those misconceptions) so it can only grow in a few areas in Nigeria. Secondly, only a few people know that Apple farming in Nigeria is possible. Last but not least, many people don’t know how to start apple farming in Nigeria.
In this post, we would be educating you starting by explaining what Apple farming is and showing you places in Nigeria where apples can grow, and can grow, the apple species that grow in Nigeria, and the health benefits of Apples, then we proceed to the main subject, the guides to how to apple farming in Nigeria. Stay focused as we explore the axis of Apple farming in Nigeria.
What is Apple Farming?
Apple Farming is the science of planting apple trees for consumption and trade. A person who engages in apple farming is called an orchardist, as the trees are referred to as an orchard.
Places Where Apples Grow In Nigeria
Apples are temperate plants therefore they can only grow in very cold and very humid areas. In Nigeria, Apples grow in Plateau state, Anambra and Cross river state (Obudu). Although some recent research postulates that apples would grow in Nsukka Enugu state, Benue State and other areas if greenhouse agriculture with proper irrigation technologies is employed.
What Apple Species Grows In Nigeria?
In our world today, we have 7500 species of apples (as numerous as banana and mango species ), ranging from the popular Red Delicious to the rare species like the black diamond apples grown in China. Many of them growing in most parts of Europe and America but the case of Apple in Nigeria is a different ball game. Nigeria only produces the Bell Apple with some other varieties of apples derived from the Bell Apple.
Health Benefits Of Apple
Beyond the fact that Apple is a very delicious fruit, Apple has many health benefits but we would be highlighting only a few so that we can proceed into the subject of the day. Here are the health benefits of Apple:
- Apples help in lowering the susceptibility to diabetes.
- Apples have anti-ageing properties that make those who consume them evergreen.
- Apples reduce the risk of heart disorders and brain conditions like stroke.
- Apples contain quercetin which gives them their antioxidant properties.
- Apples prevent cancer and Parkinson’s disease.
How To Start Apple Farming In Nigeria
Apple farming in Nigeria is the same as how it is farmed all over the world, so the method of cultivation is the same regardless of the species. Here is how to start apple farming in Nigeria:
1. Select The Right Apple Species
As stated earlier we have 7500 apple species with only one being cultivated in Nigeria, the Bell Apple. For this reason, apple species selection is easier in Nigeria because there are no other alternatives.
2. Site Selection
Site selection is a step that would determine the success of apple farming. If an orchardist chooses a land that isn’t suitable in temperature, humidity, pH and soil type, that fellow is on a one-way trip to failure.
Apples germinate in very cold areas with temperatures below 7°C that last for 6 weeks and soil with slightly acidic pH (5.5 to 6.5pH). Therefore when selecting a site for Apple farming in Nigeria, look for a location that has a very cold climate, like that of Jos, Mambila and Obudu which also have loamy soils, the most suitable soil for Apple farming. And it is for this reason that research states that apples will do well in Nsukka but we still await substantial evidence.
The Bell Apple in this case is suitable for all these conditions and may even strive in sandy and clay soil. Making it a game-changer in apple production in Nigeria.
3. Cultivation and Growth
Apple cultivation is more simple to undergo if the step of site selection was successfully made. The next thing is to cultivate.
Apple farming is done in October, as the amount of rainfall and humidity in this month is normally high making it suitable for easy germination and financially economical as the farmer would be utilizing rainwater instead of irrigation. But as the dry season approach the best option is to employ irrigation.
How do we cultivate Apple
Apple is propagated by seeds. This seed a gently buried in the soil, in a way that it would be receiving sunlight. The seeds should be spaced 1 inch apart.
From the day of planting, water the seeds till the third week after planting. By this time shoot showing germination would start emerging.
Apple business is very lucrative beyond the fruit, due to the fallacies and high level of ignorance of Apple farming in Nigeria, there is high demand for seedlings of Apples and many farmers who know how to farm bell apples make high profits even before the apple starts fruiting. Some sell 10-week-old bell apple seedlings and in no time make a lot of profits.
What Next After Cultivation And Germination
After Cultivation and it starts germinating, you have to regularly prune and stake the shoot. Also, weed the surroundings to enable optimum performance of the apple plant and also buy pest-resistant rootstocks to combat pests. The next step is to harvest.
4. Harvest Your Apples
Apple is a perennial plant, so it takes about three years to start fruiting. Bell apple trees produce about a thousand apples yearly from each plant. The massive harvest compensates for all the years of waiting for maturity. Bell Apple trees don’t stop after a year or two, instead, they go on fruiting for up to 35 years. And the encouragement about Apple farming is that these plants when mature have 2 harvest seasons yearly.
Greenhouse Apple Farming Technology
With all these said, should people in most Nigerian states just give up on Apple farming? Absolutely not. With the inception of greenhouse farming, States with the hottest weather can condition their greenhouses to be able to farm apples. By reducing the temperatures, conditioning a suitable humidity and applications of state-of-the-art technologies. Although it might be very expensive to realize and it would be difficult to a certain degree.
Apple farming in Nigeria is an aspect of agriculture that has been neglected due to wrong perceptions but we believe that this post did Justice to that. The species of Apple farmed in Nigeria is Bell Apple, even though there are 7500 apple species in the world. Apples are water-loving and cold-climate plants that germinate at extremely cold temperatures and ripen in 3 years after cultivation. Apple trees produce over a thousand fruits yearly.
Hope you learnt a lot from this post, do well to subscribe and comment below, we would love to see your comments. See you in the next post.