A citrus specialist at the National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT), Dr Stephen Afolayan, has disclosed how farmers can harvest about N16 million worth of oranges on the one-hectare plantation. He explained this during a three-during capacity building for 80 youths and women on citrus and plantain seedling production, cultivation and value addition at the institute last week.
The director of research said, “the economic value of citrus is very enormous when you look through all the value chains.”The seed itself, he said, is between N5 and N10. Each seedling sells for about N400 after about six months in the nursery. Shedding light on the economics of the tree crop, Afolayan, who is the director of HortiConsult, a consulting arm of the institute, said one tree of orange, at an optimum level, could produce 2000 fruits about five years after transplanting from the nursery.
“Let us assume that we sell each orange for N20 only, it will amount to N40,000 per tree. And citrus trees fruit twice in a year, making about N80,000 per tree yearly.“One hectare will contain at least 200 trees of citrus. This will give the farmers about N80,000 times 200 in a year, totaling about N16 million yearly,” the specialist said. He told the participants that anyone going into citrus production could break even after five years and that the trees could produce fruits consistently for about 100 years though with declining productivity.
Production of plantain seedlings, cultivation and value chain
Also, the researcher highlighted how the participants could glean sustainable income from the production of plantain seedling, plantain cultivation, value addition, and marketing. He said: “When you talk about plantain, at nursery you can cut one sucker into four, and each of the four can produce an additional 20 suckers. A sucker sells for N100. To establish one hectare of plantain, you need about 2,000 suckers at density level when you have irrigation.
“Let us assume that 2,000 plantains are planted on one hectare and that you have about 1,600 plants that survive. You will sell a bunch of plantain at about N1,000. N1,000 times 1,600 bunches of plantain will give you N1,600,000 in a year,” he said. Besides, one could pluck about five suckers from each of the 1,600 plantains on the hectare, which could give about N800,000 in the same year by selling each at N100.
From plantain peels, soaps, animal feeds and other products could be produced, the scientist said, saying, “and anybody investing into them cannot fail because these are low-risk crops. If you invest in them, you are sure of making a profit.” “Gestation period for plantain is between 10 and 12 calendar months. Your plantain can live as long as you are alive if you maintain it properly. 80 participants are trained,” he added.
Executive Director of the institute, Dr Abayomi Olaniyan, said Nigeria is ranked as the highest producer of citrus in Africa and the world’s ninth with an estimate of 3.4 million metric tonnes yearly. Plantain, he added, is an important food security crop and a reliable source of income not only to farmers but also to stakeholders in the food chains. He particularly advised the participants to embraced plantation cultivation for it could be done part-time, requires low capital and the gestation period is within a year.
The training became imperative because “dependence on natural regeneration of planting materials has been observed to be limited and encourages infections while spreading nematodes and weevils,” he said. A rapid plantain sucker multiplication technique being imparted in the participants would eliminate infections and pests, the NIHORT boss added.
Linkage to buyers
Dr. Lawrence Taiwo-Olajide, Director of Research and Head of Procurement Unit of the institute, disclosed to media that NIHORT is inundated with requests for improved and pure planting materials, but the institute is only equipped for research and model operations. This, he said, necessitated the efforts to train youths and women who could take advantage of the goodwill of the institute to a network to buyers of planting materials.
They could play active roles in filling the supply gap flying on the wings of the institute, he said while encouraging the participants to utilize the opportunity facilitated by the government. To concentrate its efforts on research and extension, the institute has trained thousands of youths in the various value chain, ranging from seedling nursery establishment, cultivation, value addition, and marketing. Chairman of the governing board, Major-General Garba Mohammed (rtd), expressed the hope that knowledge acquired during the training would be deployed to solve seedling production and job opportunity challenges while also ensuring food sufficiency for the country.