Greenhouse Farming in Nigeria – N10 million in a season?
Greenhouse farming is a type of farming in which crops are cultivated under protected and enclosed environment. Greenhouse farming is becoming very popular in Nigeria because of its advantages of keeping out pests and diseases and its comparable yield advantage to open filed cultivation of crops.
Greenhouse farming also enables farmers to cultivate crops which they would ordinarily be unable to cultivate because of the climatic or weather condition in their locations. In greenhouse farming, humidity and temperature can be controlled. It is also possible to control the amount of water passed to crops in greenhouse farming.
Greenhouse farming can also be practised in animal husbandry. Some farmers keep their animals in a greenhouse while some cultivate fodders in a greenhouse.
What is a greenhouse?
A greenhouse is an enclosed structure or environment where crops are grown. A greenhouse protects crops from pests, diseases and adverse climatic conditions. For example, a greenhouse can be used to cultivate tropical crops like pepper and tomato in a cold country like Canada and Netherland.
A greenhouse can also be used to cultivate temperate crops like blueberry in a tropical country like Nigeria. All the greenhouse needs is for the owner to install cold producing atmosphere control mechanism in the greenhouse.
A greenhouse can also have temperature and humidity control. Some crops do not like too much humidity, in areas with high humidity; a greenhouse can be used to cultivate crops that do not grow well in highly humid environments.
The word greenhouse is often used interchangeably with poly tunnel. However, it should be noted that a greenhouse is slightly different from a poly tunnel.
Components of a greenhouse
A greenhouse has some components, it should be noted that greenhouses vary, some have components the others do not have. The components of a greenhouse are explained as follows:
Iron rods or pipes
Most greenhouses are built with galvanized iron or steep pipes. These pipes are used to construct the frame of the greenhouse. Without the pipes, the greenhouses cannot be constructed. However, some people construct their greenhouses with wood or PVC pipe.
The greenhouse cover is the plastic or glass used in covering the greenhouse structure. The greenhouse cover protects the greenhouse from the elements of the weather. The plastic or glass used as a cover for a greenhouse should typically has a light penetration rate of between 80%-96%.
Most greenhouses if not all have drip irrigation facilities. Drip irrigation is a type of water efficient irrigation that allows water to drip or trickle to the roots of plants. With drip irrigation, farmers can be able to do fertigation.
Some greenhouses have misting equipment used for misting when humidity is low. Misting is done to provide humidity for crops during times of low humidity. Low humidity can be harmful to some crops.
Carbon IV Oxide Gas Chamber
All plants need carbon dioxide or carbon IV oxide for photosynthesis. To fast track the growth of plants in greenhouses and to ensure that the crops have a good yield. Some greenhouses have carbon IV oxide gas chamber.
Plastic mulch is used to cover the soil in order to prevent weeds and alter the temperature of the soil. Some greenhouses have plastic mulches which are used to guard against weeds.
Grow bags are plastic bags that are used for planting crops. Instead of a farmer to plant directly on the soil, he can decide to plant in grow bags. Soilless medium like coco peat can be stuffed in the grow bags to serve as a planting medium.
Soil, coco peat and rock wool etc. can be used as planting media in a greenhouse. Some greenhouses run 100% on water, this type of greenhouse are called hydroponic greenhouses.
Some farmers introduce bees into their greenhouses while some use artificial pollinators to pollinate their crops because the enclosed structure does not allow bees to have access to the crops in their greenhouses.
Climate controlled equipment
Highly sophisticated greenhouses often have the ability to adjust to the best temperature and humidity suitable for the crops grown in them. This climate controlled equipment is a key component of some types of greenhouses.
Types of greenhouse in Nigeria
Below are some types of greenhouses:
Plastic Greenhouse: This type of greenhouse is built with plastic sheet. It is the most common type of greenhouse in Nigeria. The plastic sheet prevents elements of the weather to affect the crops in the greenhouse.
Glass Greenhouse: This type of greenhouse is covered with glass. It is common in the Netherlands and other temperate countries.
Dome Shaped Greenhouse: This type of greenhouse has a dome shape. The shape makes it appropriate for some regions.
How to construct a greenhouse in Nigeria
It is always better to ask an expert like Veggie Grow to construct your greenhouse for you; however, if you want to construct your greenhouse yourself, you can use either galvanized steel pipes or planks (wood).
At Veggie Grow, we use professional welding technicians to construct greenhouses. Some of our technicians are trained in the UK, India and China.
Over the years, we have seen that most farmers who build their greenhouses themselves often abandon the greenhouses after a few months because of the poor construction work they do.
We employ skilled engineers who use Computer Aided Design (CAD) software to design the shape and look of the greenhouse according to the location you are in Nigeria. Greenhouses built for those in the northern part of Nigeria is different from the one built for those in the southern part of Nigeria because of the difference in the level of temperature and humidity.
How to set-up a greenhouse
We recently met a farmer who asked us the question “How to set-up a greenhouse”. Setting up a greenhouse involves some steps; the steps will be explained in details later in this note.
You should be ready to commit some funds; you should have a good location, access to water and access to good markets before you set out to set up a greenhouse.
Greenhouse can be set up anywhere in Nigeria, however, the skills to set up a full greenhouse are lacking in Nigeria. Only few companies in Nigeria have the right skills to help farmers set up their greenhouses.
Crops that can be grown in greenhouses in Nigeria
The following are the crops that can be grown in a greenhouse:
Tomato: Tomato is the most popular crop grown in greenhouses worldwide. In Nigeria, greenhouse grown tomatoes command better prices than open field grown tomatoes because of their high quality. It is not uncommon for greenhouse farmers to sell their tomatoes for N400 per kg. Most of the greenhouse grown tomatoes in Nigeria are sold in the organized markets (hotels and retail malls.
Sweet Pepper: Just like tomatoes, sweet pepper be it green, red or yellow grows very well under greenhouse conditions. Greenhouse grown sweet peppers are sold at premium rates in the market in Nigeria.
Cucumber: Nigerians love cucumbers, cucumber farming is called farmers’ ATM in Nigeria because of the popularity and profitability of this crop in Nigeria. Cucumbers can be grown in greenhouses. The popular types of cucumbers grown in greenhouses in Nigeria are slicing cucumbers, pickles cucumbers and English cucumbers etc.
Other crops that can be grown in greenhouses in Nigeria include:
- Egg plants
- Sweet corn
- Chinese cabbage
- Habenero peppers etc.
Greenhouses can also be used for nursery of vegetable and tree crops.
Steps to take to start greenhouse farming
Get a good site: It is important to get a good site for your greenhouse. Some people prefer having their greenhouses in urban areas in Nigeria like Lagos, Abuja, Ibadan, Kano, Port Harcourt or Owerri etc where they will be easily accessible to premium customers. Some people also prefer to site their greenhouses in rural areas.
Check the soil and water: If you prefer to grown directly on the soil, you must check the soil for bacteria wilt pathogen and other pests and diseases. If the soil is heavily infected, you will need to solarize the soil. Also, you should be sure that there is enough water for growing.
Construct the greenhouse: It is better you get experts to help you construct your greenhouses; you can also buy pre-fabricated greenhouses.
Veggie Grow constructs and sells pre-fabricated greenhouses, you can contact them on 08025141924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Engage skilled hands: Operating a greenhouse is different from farming on an open field. You need to get skilled hands or you get yourself trained on how to successfully grow crops in a greenhouse.
Operate the greenhouse: After engaging the greenhouse, you should know how to operate the greenhouse and take care of the crops therein throughout the term of the crops. Veggie Grow will provide a manual to all its customers on how to grow crops in a greenhouse.
Marketing: It is always better to seek for a market or markets before you start growing any crop. The market for greenhouse produce in Nigeria is huge; you just need to do the leg work.
Cost of greenhouse farming in Nigeria
Getting a good greenhouse is not cheap; do not let anybody deceive you by telling you that you can get a good greenhouse for a ridiculous price. Most people who had a bad experience in greenhouse farming in Nigeria went for ridiculously low priced greenhouses.
The cost of a 240 square standard greenhouse in Nigeria goes for between N2 million to N2.5 million. However, at Veggie Grow, we can supply a greenhouse of 240 square meters to you at far below N2 million. We will also guide you on how you can make good money from the greenhouse.
Depending on the size of greenhouse you want, we can construct to fit your budget, however, if your budget is too low, we will not be able to compromise quality just to satisfy you.
We construct greenhouses and also sell pre-fabricated greenhouses.
Revenue Analysis of greenhouse farming
Let’s take indeterminate tomatoes grown in a small greenhouse for example.
A single indeterminate tomato plant can yield up to 30kg, some can yield lower though.
If 1,000 indeterminate tomato plants are planted in a greenhouse, about 30,000 kg is the maximum yield that will be gotten from the greenhouse.
In Nigeria, the conventional famer gets as low as 3,000kg of tomatoes per acre of tomato, this means that the yield of a small greenhouse can equal the yield of 10 acres of tomatoes farmland.
This analysis shows that a greenhouse can be very profitable with a high ROI.
You also need to know that your greenhouse can also make a massive loss if you do not know how to cultivate crops in a greenhouse.
Advantages of greenhouse farming
A greenhouse needs a small size of land, despite this; it can yield far more than open field cultivation. A small sized greenhouse standing on one eight of a plot of land can have a yield commensurate with an open field farm on 1 acre of farmland.
The greenhouse guards crops against pests, diseases and adverse weather conditions.
The greenhouse can allow farmers to practice integrated pest management.
A typical greenhouse has a higher yield of crop than open field farming.
There is efficiency in the use of water and nutrients in a greenhouse as compared to open field cultivation.
The Returns on Investment (ROI) on greenhouses are typically higher than open field farming.
Disadvantages of greenhouse farming
A greenhouse is expensive to acquire.
The farmer needs good skills and competences in order to run a greenhouse.
Greenhouse farming and disease control in Nigeria
Greenhouses normally help farmers to guard against pests and diseases. However, the high density planting in greenhouses if not well managed can pre-disposed plants to pests and diseases. An infected plant if not quickly attended to can spread diseases to other plants because of the close spacing of plants in the greenhouse.
Some greenhouses have automatic sprayers on the roof that sprays crops with fungicides, insecticides and other chemicals in order to prevent and cure diseases.
Some greenhouses also have lay flat hoses that can be used to spray chemicals to guard against pests and diseases.
How to pollinate your crops in greenhouse farming
Greenhouses fence out insects both the beneficial and the harmful ones. It is not common in Nigeria for people to introduce bees into their greenhouses.
In greenhouse farming in Nigeria, farmers use artificial pollinators to pollinate their crops. Some farmers use chemicals to make the plants pollinate. These chemicals automatically switch the crops to self-pollinating mode.
Are you in Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Ondo, Ekiti, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Owerri, Kano, Kaduna, Jos, Maiduguri, Katsina, Ibadan, Abeokuta or anywhere in Nigeria, we can design and build a greenhouse or polytunnel for you.
Greenhouse farming can be very profitable in Nigeria if done in the right way.