When talking about the most consumed cereal crops in the world, you’d have to count in maize after rice and wheat. It is one of the most lucrative businesses to venture into in Nigeria. One reason farmers choose maize cultivation over rice, or other cereal crops is because of the low capital required to venture into it. It is also worth knowing that planting and harvesting maize involves far less stress than the other cereal crops.
What every farmer should know about maize cultivation
According to a recent research by International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), over 800 million tonnes of maize is produced annually, with Africa only accounting for about 6.5% of this figure. The percentage is extremely low, considering the fact that the United States accounted for more than 30% of maize crops grown in 2010, while China seconded.
Maize is being consumed in various forms by over 500 million Africans yearly. This makes it one of the most viable agribusinesses to venture into in Africa.
Nigeria is the largest producer of maize with about 8 million tonnes of maize produced annually, followed by South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda.
Uses of Maize
The maize crop was first domesticated by Mexicans over 10,000 years ago, and has since spread across the whole world in various forms like four corn, pop corn, flint corn, pod corn and dent corn.
Its uses spans across various industrial and household products, including production milk, meat, eggs and other dairy products, production of cooking starch and many others.
It is a great source of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamin B, iron, and minerals. It also digests easily when consumed.
Benefits of maize farming
Maize farming involves the commercial growing of maize products for human consumption or other purposes, which may include the production of flour, animal feed, fodder and others.
Some of the amazing benefits of maize farming include:
- Maize is a source of food
- It can be used in the production of sweeteners
- It can be used in the production of animal feed
- It can be used in the production of ethanol and starch
- Maize is also useful in the production of corn oil
- It requires little capital and labour. The seeds can be gotten locally too.
- Maize grows faster than many other crops, and is less delicate than rice
- Maize farming can also be a source of employment if done in a large scale.
Steps to take in while starting your maize farming business in Nigeria
Below are some very important guidelines you need to take before venturing into maize farming business in Nigeria:
Select your farm site
Inasmuch as you can cultivate maize virtually in any farmland in Nigeria, researches have proven that maizes do best in fertile loamy soils. Also make sure that the soil is well drained before carrying out the plantation.
Land preparation will be the next step after selection. Depending on the scale, you can either make use of machines to clear the land or employ the services of manual labourers.
Get your maize seeds
If you want to benefit fully from your maize farming business, it is advisable that go for improved varieties of maize seeds. If you’re in Nigeria, some of the improved varieties that are available to you include:
- White, open-pollinated varieties like the TZESR-W; Downy Mildew and Streak Resistant
- The yellow open-pollinated varieties like TZESR-Y; Downy Mildew and Streak Resistant
- Yellow open-pollinated varieties like the western yellow 1: TZSR-Y-1 (Streak Resistant)
- The white hybrids like 9022-19, 8321-18, (Striga Resistant)
You can get the above listed improved varieties and even more from the ministry of Agriculture in your state.
The next step to take after getting the improved varieties is to start planting the maize seeds. For best results, farmers are advised to plant maize seeds immediately after clearing the farmlands. This is to enable the maize grow ahead of weeds. If you delay in planting the seeds, the maize crops might be exposed to competitions with the weeds.
Planting of maize seeds should be at a depth of 3-4 cm, and spacing of about 1-1.5 feet between each plant. The best time to plant is between the ending of March and the first week of April, depending on how early the rain starts.
As with every other crop, you’ll also have to make arrangements for the weeding. The weeding process will involve you manually removing the weeds, and should start 15 days after planting the maize. Alternatively, you can control the weeds by applying herbicides like Atrazine pre-emergence at 3kg per hectare.
Harvesting your maize
The final stage is the harvesting process. Harvesting can be done within 3-5 months after planting, depending on the purpose of your maize farming business. The demand for maize is higher than the supply, so the profitability of your harvested corns are never in doubt.