Like many, are you of the opinion that apples cannot be grown in Nigeria? Learn about apple farming in Nigeria through this article. It provides a step-by-step guide for you to start your apple farm.
Apples are one of the most in-demand fruits in Nigeria and worldwide. They are edible fruits that can be eaten differently and still make a sumptuous appetizer or meal.
They can be roasted, baked, made into smoothies, used for sauces, or consumed. But whichever way, apples provide valuable nutrients that are incredibly beneficial to the body.
Hence, the popular idiom, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
The health benefits of eating apples include:
- Apples help lower the risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
- Apples help to lower cholesterol.
- Apples contain an antioxidant called quercetin, which aids in immunity.
- Apples contain non-digestible fibre, which gives you a feeling of fullness and prevents overeating and weight gain.
- Apples are beneficial to brain health due to their antioxidant content.
- Apple antioxidants are also beneficial in preventing certain cancers and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
- Apples help with dental health. Eating apples can give your breath a boost of freshness.
- Apples have properties that help to reduce inflammation.
- Apples may improve blood circulation, keeping the skin looking young and toned.
- Apples are high in vitamin C, which benefits your skin and hair.
Since apples offer numerous health benefits, it is no surprise why they are widely consumed worldwide, including in Nigeria.
Research has shown that there are over 7,500 known apple species worldwide and about 95 countries with the highest rate of apple production. China is at the top of the list as the largest apple producer in the world, with 42,426,578 tonnes of output per year.
And the United States of America comes second with 4,997,680 tonnes of yearly production. Both countries provide more than 50 % of the world’s total apples. The estimated apple production worldwide per year is 87,236,221 tonnes. Now that’s a lot!
However, according to statistics, about 50,000 tonnes of these apples are imported into Nigeria each year. This isn’t surprising because we have a considerable population and do not produce enough apples in the country.
But as apple consumption is increasing year after year, and we need to cut down on our importation in general as a country, there is a need to find ways to start growing apples in the country to meet this growing demand.
For this reason, it is essential to learn about apple farming in Nigeria and how it works.
Apple Farming in Nigeria and How it Works
Like anywhere around the world, apple farming in Nigeria is the cultivation of apples for personal and commercial consumption. However, it is not just a means to apple production but also an avenue for business opportunities.
Since apples are used to make a wide range of other products besides food products, their production opens up tremendous business opportunities like juice drink production, cosmetics production, and pharmaceutical production.
Jellies, pickles, apple cider vinegar, and red wine are examples of such products that are made with apples.
Apple farming in Nigeria can be a little dicey if one is not informed about how to grow them properly. So, this implies that there are relevant things you should know before you begin apple farming in Nigeria.
What is the best climate for apple trees?
Apple trees grow best in places with cold weather conditions. But Nigeria is not one of the countries with a cold climate. This is why apples rarely grow in Nigeria; there are only a handful of places where apple trees can thrive.
Places like Jos, Mambila, and Obudu plateaus have been known to have higher cold temperatures when compared to other places in the country.
How long does it take an apple to grow?
On average, it takes about 4-5 years to grow an apple tree, depending on the size and variety. Dwarf apple trees start bearing fruit two to three years after planting. However, a standard-sized apple tree can take up to five years before it begins to bear fruit.
What is the best soil for apple farming?
Apples can grow in a variety of soil types, but the ideal soil should have the following properties: It should be well-drained, adequately aerated, loamy, rich in organic matter, and have a PH of 5.5 to
What time of year do apples grow?
The best time of the year to cultivate apples is earlier so they can be ready for harvest, between September and October. The fruits mature 130-150 days after the complete bloom stage, depending on the variety grown.
What apple variety grows well in Nigeria?
The Bell Apple is the apple variety that can be grown in Nigeria. Although it tastes quite different, the Bell apple is just as nutritious and beneficial as the imported variety. It can have a sweet and sour flavor. The intensity of the sweetness or sourness depends on how ripe it is.
Bell Apple Farming in Nigeria
The Bell apple can be grown in at least 34 of the country’s 36 states, except for the core northern states of Borno and Sokoto. This is unlike other varieties that can only grow in cold temperatures. It has a planting season that lasts from September to April, and it usually takes 3 weeks for the seed to germinate.
However, like other apple varieties, Bell apples require a certain amount of humidity and rainfall to thrive.
So how do you start your bell apple orchard? Here is how you begin.
How to Start Bell Apple Farming in Nigeria: A Step-by-Step Guide
1) Seed Selection
When starting your bell apple farm, it is best to get the apple tree seeds from renowned firms, agricultural institutes, or professionals who are already in the business of growing bell apples. This is so you can be assured of the quality of the seed you are buying.
Bell apple seeds are big and brown, and their seeds germinate readily. When bought, it should be used immediately or preserved within three days of harvest. Refrigerated, bell apple seedlings can last for a couple of weeks.
2) Land Preparation
At this stage, you must decide whether you want your apple plant on a prepared seedbed or in a container. Whichever it is, your seeds must be planted outdoors. Ensure enough sunlight, soil, and space for it to grow. Usually, apple trees require direct sunlight for about six or more hours per day.
3) Planting of Seeds
Before you plant your apple seeds, make sure the soil used for planting is the one that retains moisture while draining well. Any soil used for growing apples should be at least moderately fertile and have a pH close to neutral. At this time, you also loosen the soil so that the seed has enough room to grow its root system. Dig a two-foot-deep hole and insert your seed.
When it is young, the apple tree needs every 10 to 12 days while it is still very young. Watering can be reduced to once a week or every two weeks to keep the soil moist as the tree grows.
Fertilization should be done before the apple tree begins to produce buds. You can use nitrogen and phosphorus-containing fertilizer (NPK) or organic manure from horses, cattle, or goats.
Usually, it takes about three years for the bell apple tree to begin producing fruit. Each harvest may have at least 1000 fruits, with a minimum of two harvests per year.
However, harvesting the fruits once they mature is advisable to avoid clustering. The apple trees’ branches should be pruned as they grow.
Apple farming in Nigeria is another alternative to consider if you want to explore other profitable agricultural ventures. Aside from helping to meet the ever-increasing demand for apples in the country, you will also benefit from the considerable business opportunities it presents.