Hibiscus farming for commercial purposes is not popular in Nigeria, the only region that is involved is in the North. This is a simple farming business that has the potential of minting out money for smart investors and agropreneurs who are utilizing the privilege. The leaves of this plant are used in preparing the popular zobo drink which is now being packaged in different containers with exorbitant flavours. Nigeria is one of the major producers of hibiscus flower.
The scientific name is Hibiscus sinensis; it belongs to the mallow family. They are both annual and perennial plants. You can classify them into shrubs, herbs or trees and are popularly called chinese hibiscus or china rose. Hibiscus is a warm growing plant, in Africa they are cultivated in Mali, Sudan, Senegal and Nigeria. Other countries of the world are; Mexico, China, Thailand, India etc.
Hibiscus farming is an area of Agricultural sector that is capable of employing many jobless persons. It can also add to our capital base through exportation. Hibiscus plant is best favoured for planting between November-April.
WHERE TO SOURCE FOR ZOBO LEAVES IN NIGERIA
Kano, Bauchi, Katsina, Borno, Gombe and Jigawa are the major hibiscus farming states.
Hibiscus has different colours; yellow, salmon pink multi-coloured, double blossom and red. Red colour is the most common flowers in Nigeria. And has different varieties for gardening, manufacturing and farming purposes.
TYPES OF HIBISCUS
- Tropical hibiscus
- Hardy shrub H.
- Hardy perennial
- Sabdariffa variety has the best flavour.
There are now very many improved varieties,. The tropical hibiscus can be grown in containers, pots because it grows as a small shrub. Hibiscus can be grown in an open field all year round. Provided there is; enough moisture and sunlight to aid their growth others are;
- Proper planning
- Good management and
- Correct marketing strategies.
They grow well on sandy-loam. Clear the land and add manure where necessary. The ph should be tested before planting 5.5-6.5 is good for hibiscus farming. They do well in acidic soil.
Hibiscus can be planted in two ways; through seed broadcast and stem propagation. Cut the stem of the parent plant about 5-6 inches. You can wet the bottom of the stem with liquid fertilizer before planting so as to hasten their establishment and for proper root formation. The propagated stem will take between 8-10 weeks before getting roots.
To plant with seed, you need to soak the seeds in water over night and then plant them into your already prepared pot or containers.
READ ALSO: How To Cultivate Alfalfa Plant In Nigeria
August-October is best for pruning this is to stimulate new growth of shoots and buds. To have erect and beautiful growth remove sideways growing branches leave only about 3-4 straight growing branches. To stop them from becoming too big cut 1/3 of their main branches away.
IRRIGATION IN HIBISCUS FARMING
Irrigate the farm every day during dry season. If hibiscus plant is deficient of water their leaves will become yellowish and afterward fall off. During raining season irrigate them when there is drought or shortage of rain. To avoid root rot (disease) avoid watering too much.
Hibiscus plant requires a lot of nutrient to blossom. Apply treated dung every month and liquid fertilizer every week. Apply more of Potassium fertilizer and little phosphorus to make an ideal hibiscus farming.
PEST/DISEASE CONTROL IN HIBISCUS FARMING
Hibiscus farming has its own challenge of pest and diseases, here are a few that has been listed out;
Mealybugs, spider mites, aphids, stem/root rots are their most commonest pest and diseases that attack them. Use neem oil or correct pesticides to attack them. Avoid planting in waterlog areas. The flowers can open in the morning drop and wilt in the evening.
It attains growth 4-8 months after planting. During its early growth about the first five months it will require about 12-13 hours of sunlight to prevent pre-mature flowering. And will require an adequate amount of rainfall for at least 4 months from the time of planting.
Harvest time will depend on the variety but it is likely to take place between October and November make sure you harvest them once the flowers are fully bloom by hand picking them.
Use only healthy flowers never use any one that is attacked by pest. Dress the flower by removing the stamens (yellow slider long in the centre
Allow some stem in the flower for easy drying,. Wash the flowers to remove dirt and any insects on them.
Spread mat or use rack outside, keep things around to prevent wind from blowing them away. Spray the flowers on it for enough sunlight to heat them during the day. Keep drying them until the are finally dried to the lowest bearable moisture.
Drying can take a few days depending on the intensity of heat applied to it. When completely dried, they will shrink and turn brittle. Be sure to carry the flowers indoors in the evening to avoid early morning dews which can wet them again. Turn or shuffle the flowers daily for uniform drying.
Sell to wholesalers and distributors who deals on zobo leaves or you can supply directly to retailers and make more money. A 25kg bag of zobo leaves will cost between #7,000-#10,000. It can be exported to Europe, Asia, USA etc. The season for exportation is best between October-March
SPECIFICATIONS REQUIREMENT FOR EXPORTATION
Hibiscus flower 12% maximum moisture content, dark red colour. 480 bags in 40FCL.
packaging 40-50kg PP bags
WHY YOU SHOULD GO INTO HIBISCUS FARMING BUSINESS
There are huge profits in hibiscus farming as a perennial crop you plant once and keep on harvesting for a long period of time. So it is a long time earning. The supply chain is few and therefore require more farmers to increase planting and more new ones to breach the gap.
USES OF HIBISCUS
- It has anti-ageing properties that slow down ageing.
- Hibiscus is a good source of raw materials for food (beverage) industries.
- It can be used as colourants for the darkening of hair (hair-die)
- Zobo leaves lower cholesterol level.
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