Maize (otherwise called ‘corn’ in a few nations) is a standout amongst the most well-known and critical sustenance food crops in Africa. It is generally eaten in different ways such as roasted corn, boiled corn, mixed with beans, and over 900 million Africans rely upon maize consistently in light of the fact that it is regularly less expensive than wheat, yam and rice. The demand for maize in recent years has increased geometrically as human and animal population is increasing. Many of the diets given to animals for meat production has maize as a major ingredient.Maize farming in Nigeria and Africa generally is yet untapped as there is still lots of importation of this commodity despite the increase in production. As Africa population continues to grow, the demand and consumption of maize will continue to increase in the coming years.Maize is definitely a surprising food crop, when you plant a seed, you will definitely get an average of 500 kernels at harvest. It utilizes the abundant sunlight , rich soil nutrient and abundant rain available in Nigeria and Africa. Maize can grow in harsh condition, regions where there is less rainfall as there are now some hybrids that can survive in such condition.Maize naturally grows very fast. The production is also quite easy as it takes 2-4 months from planting to harvest stage.A major reason why it is highly consumed is because of it high nutritional value and energy. It is rich in vitamins A, C and E and other essential minerals. It also contains about 9% protein. It is also rich in carbohydrate and fibre for essential energy for daily activties. Maize is a food crop in Africa, Latin America, North America and Europe. It is mostly consumed by humans, though it is also processed into animal feeds for food production.According to IITA estimates, Nigeria produces nearly 800 million tonnes per year . This is closely followed by Tanzania, South Africa and Uganda. Africa produces an estimate of 6.5 percent of the whole production and this is not enough for local consumption.Africa consumes more maize than any other continent ( Europe, America etc) where it is mainly used as animal feed production and industrial use. Africa consumes about 30% of the total world production per annum and Lesotho is the highest consumer of maize in Africa with a daily consumption of 174kg/person.
What makes maize a good business opportunity?
Because of its versatile use, maize is highly demanded for various means which spans across human use, animal feeding and industrial use.
Due to its nutritional factor, fibre content and cost, maize is widely consumed by Africans daily and this seems to increase per day as population increases. Maize is accepted by Africans because it can be processed into other food and mixed with other food ingredients. For example, maize is processed into pap and mixed with ginger and groundnut in powdery form. It is also consumed when boiled or roasted. With the expected world birth rate, it is estimated that the demand for maize will continue to increase as Africa has the highest percentage on daily birth rate.
Animal feed production
Maize is the major raw material in animal feed. For example in poultry feeds, maize constitutes more than 25% of the total feed because of its high nutritional value. It is also cheaper in price compare to other raw materials which supplies same nutrient to livestocks. As a result of this development, over 60% of the world total production is used for livestock feed. In Europe and many other developed countries, more percentage of maize is used for animal feed than human consumption especially in United States, the world largest producer of maize where more than 80% of the total production is used as animal feeds production.
Maize has high quantity of starch which makes it a high demand crop for starch production.The starch is then processed into other ingredients, agents and addittives such as lactic acid,sorbic acid,dextrine,sorbitol. Many of these processed material are not really recognised by many but they are used in the production of household item that are commonly known and used such as syrups, paints, cosmectics, fireworks, batteries and glue. Many may be surprised but maize is used for major household materials production.Starch from maize is also used for bioethanol production. This is used as an alternative to power machines , cars and other locomotives that depend on petrol.Ethanol is also used as solvent in the manufacture of perfumes in preparation of syrupsm , vanishes and flavorings. Some of the major buyers of maize are the food producers and breweries. Big companies such as Nestle buys lot of maize for cereal production. Breweries also use maize as its beer production. Many African consumes millions of litres of beer daily and this is expected to increase daily as population increases. The more beer that is consumed, the more maize that will be purchased.
How to start a successful and lucrative maize farming in Africa
Maize farming when compared with other crops is quite easy to grow as it demands less energy and attention compared to some other crops. Also, to be successful in maize farming, an enterpreneur must be equipped with the right knowledge of maize farming business.Based on finding/ research, maize farming requires enterpreneur to be equipped with the basic knowledge before the practical knowledge and we have identified these information in this article.
Find Suitable Land with good road network:
Many venture into maize farming without considering the type of land they acquire for maize production. The first major thing to consider is land and this has long way in affecting your yield positively or negatively. The health of the land definitely determines the yield you get. Maize grows best in rich loamy or sandy-loamy soil in a well drained area of flat land or slightly slopy land. Maize do not grow well on a waterlogged soil and this must be considered when choosing your land. However, waterlogged area will require making ridges to protect the maize. Maize is a lover of sunlight, so the land must be opened and must not have any form of canopy (shades, trees and man –made structure). The land must also also be tilled for the maize plant to absorb the required quantity of nutrient and water at any length in the soil. Also, a tilled land will reduce weed population and the weeds wont be able to compete for light, water and nutrient.
Use of different maize varieties:
A type of maize seed you plant have a long way to determine how the seed will react to the weather, pest, disease and also its yield. Before any maize seed is used, a farmer must know the climatic condition of the land. For example, a land with the history of short span of rainfall and long dry spell period will require maize seeds that are resistant to drought conditions. Likewise, pest and disease history of the area must be considered before maize seed is purchased.Also, in some locality, the colour of maize must be considered. Due to cultural beliefs and taboos, many african populace may not consume maize of different colour they are used to. There are also early maturing or late maturing maize. An early maturing maize takes 90-100 days while a late maturing maize take 110-120 days but generally, maize takes an average of 2-3 months before maturity.
When to Grow and How to grow:
There was a time when the rain and sunshine pattern can be predicted yearly but this is not the case anymore. In my village, many maize farmers have been so used to the climatic conditions that they know when to expect rainfall and when it ceases. This information has helped them to plan well for their yearly farming activities. But in recent years, this has changed due to global warming that have changed the pattern of rainfall and sunshine and also the intensity of both rainfall and sunshine. It is good to know that there are no specific time to grow maize as the climatic pattern of a region is different from another region. However, it is best to plant maize after it has rained consecutively for 2 to 3 times. Planting the seeds only when the rain has come will really help the maize to grow well. A maize seed needs an average of 400mm to 600mm of rainfall yearly to grow, this is gotten in form of the moisture in the soil. It is also very important to pay a very keen attention to the health of your maize everyday. Maize seeds should be purchased from certified sellers and not from local market where you may bu maize seeds that has low yield, highly susceptible to pest and disease and also low germinating rate. For best result, it is mandatory that all agro-enterpreneurs purchase their seeds from certified seeds and farm input sellers.
Be on the look for pest and disease:
Maize has lots of pest and disease. They are always waiting for your maize seeds to start growing before they feed on them. The yield you get as a farmer will be influenced by your knowledge on pest and disease and how fast you were able to find solution when such symptoms shows on your maize farm. You can mitigate against this by using pesticides, insecticides and other control methods in the right proportion.
Harvesting your maize
Harvesting of maize is majorly determined by your target market. A farmer who is supplying industries or animal feeds companies will need to further dry the maize on the field or using machine while a farmer targeting final consumer will only need to sell it wet. In Africa, many farmers harvest an average of 2-4 tonnes per hectare while their counterparts in Europe, Asia and America harvest 10 tonnes and above per hectare. The yield per hectare is mainly determined by these:
- Variety of maize
- Technical know-how
- Weather condition
- Soil health
- Pest and disease management and others.
Resources and Learning Materials:
Here are few interesting materials that will give you a head-start in maize cultivation if you are seriously considering investing in maize farming and production business in Africa.Maize production manual is an interesting and detailed handbook from South Africa department of agriculture. It is well written and has enough information needed by beginners.
Another well written book is “How to grow a good maize crop“. It is simply written for maize farming beginners in Nigeria and the West Africa by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). The handbook is well written and covers from site selection, land preparation, seed selection, fertilizer application to storage of maize after harvesting.
At Farm LA Vida Consults, we are currently working on our pilot maize farming on an expanse of 10 hectares which after will be used for cassava cultivation.
You can contact us for consultation on maize and other crops farming. Likewise, we have abundant rich fertile land available for sale and lease at cheaper price. We also have enough man power to handle your farming activities.
For the elites that want to invest in maize farming or other types of farming, you can partner with us and get good result. We are so excited letting you know about maize farming and other agricultural business opportunities.
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