African Star Apple Cultivation (agbalomu, udara farming)

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udara agbalomo farming in nigeria

African star apple (udara) is very popular in the southern part of Nigeria but greatly loved by many across the country. The local name is udala or udara by the southerners and agbalumo by the yorubas. Another English name for it is white Afrian star apple. Botanical name Chrysophyllum albidum. Udara tree is an economic tree that grows naturally in the wild (forest); now is the time to start udara farming.

So far I am yet to come across any udara plantation nor any udara farmer. I hear some people say I am a cocoa farmer, I am a coffee farmer what happens to I am udara farmer? It leaves much to wonder. In our very eyes this plant is gradually somersaulting into extinction. The seeds that our fathers allowed to grow from the fruits they picked from the wild are dying while most are declining in yield. What is the way out? Well it Is for you and me to start udara farming.

Not much has been said about their management practices but if you can do mango or ogbono farming then you can do udara farming. The reason many people especially the youths frowns from this kind of farming is because of the number of years it takes to mature (15 years ). That’s alarming! The goodnews is that we now have dwarf udara tree that matures within 3 years.

CHARACTERISTICS OF UDARA

African star apple is a seasonal fruit that starts producing during dry season (December-April). It is a plant that grows in the tropical region. They are cultivated mostly in Africa countries like; Uganda, Niger Republic, Cameroun, Cote d’ Voire and of course Nigeria as already mentioned.

Udara fruit is like berry although some people call it cherry. It contains not more than 5 seeds in a single fruit. The colour is green when unripe and yellow when ripe with brown stripes on some of the fruits. The pulp which is reddish-brown in colour contains liquid that are milky in nature. The pulp residue can also change to chewing cum when eaten. This liquid if it touches any cloth will not go off, the stain will become a large brown cycle. Juice extracted from udara fruit which is a good source of Vitamin can be used for jams and jelly. The pulp from udara is often eaten as snacks it has a very good flavour and it is filling. Udara plant has nutritional, economical and health benefits. The fruits are mostly for commercialized in Nigeria.

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AFRICAN STAR APPLE VARIETY

African star apple can be planted the same way other economic crops are cultivated. Although there are different variety of udara, it can be distinguihed by their shapes, sizes and taste. Some varieties are very sour sweet, some are fair while others have deep sour.taste. The tree differs in sizes, forms, features and productivity. Some seeds are smaller than others the same thing with their sizes. Also some are heavily fruited while others are light. The fruits become sweeter when rain starts falling on them. This is one of the reasons some people eat them by this time.

LAND PREPARATION

Clear the land and till any harden soil in other to lose them for water and nutrients penetration. The soil should be a well-drained sandy loam soil rich in organic matter with a good PH.

PLANTING/PROPAGATION

It can be propagated through seeds and grafting. I have witnessed a good number of the seeds germinates in my compound and I’m often left with the pain of uprooting them because I can’t allow it in somebody’s property. This is to tell you the seeds germinates freely. Use seeds that are fresh not more than 4 months. It has an epigeal germination meaning the seedling grows above the ground. The seeds need adequate water to germinate that is why it is advisable to plant them during raining season especially when the rain is just starting. For a dry season you will need irrigation maybe drip, you can plant the seeds directly into the field.

READ: How To Start Lemon And Orange Farming In Nigeria

Udara seedling

Another way to plant them is by grafting. But it is best to buy the seedlings from recognised nursery companies such as Seedworld Integrated Concept Limited in Ogun State, Nigeria. Water them immediately after planting you can mulch the farm to avoid moisture lost. Udara trees should be allowed to grow under full sunlight. Budgrafting produces fruits in 3 years. Vegetative propagation may also be possible.

Udara hybrid plant

INTER CROPPING IN UDARA FARMING

Like other economic trees udara plantation can be intercropped. Plant trees you can harvest within a year. After 3 years plant crops that can withstand shade example turmeric, ginger etc. The plants when harvested will take care of udara farming maintenance while still bringing in additional income.

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PRUNING

Prune the African mango trees so that they can produce clean and healthy trees. It will help them to develop good structure that will make harvesting easy. Pruning will also make them to grow well and lastly it will promote higher yield.

Make sure you prune the trees after every harvest so that new shoot can emerge before the next fruiting.

IRRIGATION IN UDARA FARMING

This wonderful fruit needs adequate water to grow,. Do not allow dryness in the farm maintain good moisture by applying water where necessary.

FERTILIZER APPLICATION/WEEDING

Apply organic fertilizer before and after germination, use the right NPK in the right proportion.

Weeding should be done quickly so that pest will not destroy the leaves which can hinder growth. Use manual or herbicides.

PESTS/DISEASES

Udara trees are susceptible to diseases and pests which results in low germination, death of seedlings, fruit quality and quantity reduction. However pest and diseases will be less were there are good cultural practices such as using well-drained soil, allowing adequate air circulation etc. Once they are established; can resist pests, diseases and winds. Insects such as flies are a very big problem to ripe udara fruits especially after post harvest. Scale insects affects unripe fruits (coccus hesparidum).

HARVEST/YIELD

It is mostly harvested around December but the taste is not always palatable unlike when it is allowed to stay for rain to meet it before harvesting. Harvest the fruits when the colour turns yellow from green. Some will naturally fall to the ground when ripe. If not harvested quickly some of the fruits will split on their own. Pluck them with your hands or you use sharp instruments to cut off the bunch of udara stick.

As earlier said they mature within 3 years and starts fruiting but the fruit will keep increasing with age. A tree can produce more than 1,000 fruits. And will continue yield for many years. Sell udara fruits immediately after harvest because it can not be preserved for more than a week except you harvested them unripe. Also to avoid losing them to insects attack and appearance fading.

READ ALSO: How To Start Successful Apple Farming In Nigeria

MARKETING

It has a ready market because people are on hand to consume them and it is most time not enough. For more money you can take it to the market and sell them by yourself for more money. Locate juice companies and sale to them and others that make use of them. Advertise your product online for both local and International exposure.

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HEALTH BENEFITS OF UDARA

  • It is a natural remedy for toothache, sore throat, mouth gum, constipation etc.
  • Udara helps in tackling any possibility of heart diseases and cancer due to oxidant properties.
  • The bark of udara tree is used in the treatment of yellow fever and malaria.
  • Udara is good for pregnant women their acidic taste helps in preventing vomiting.
  • It is a natural source of anti-oxidant, contains Vitamin C.
  • A study reveals that udara has 67 calories thereby helping to shed weight.
  • It contains 3g of fibre out of the recommended 25-38g daily intake.

OTHER USES OF AFRICAN STAR APPLE

  • It is now fermented into wine and also distilled into spirits.
  • The seeds are extracted for soap making
  • Latex is tapped from the trunk and used for rubber production
  • The white hardwood has high quality, very valuable in the international market. It is used in construction industry and in the manufacturing of agricultural implements.

HOW LUCRATIVE IS UDARA FARM8NG?

Udara farming is very profitable. Lets assume you bought seedling #1,500 that’s the amount some seed companies sells one seedling. Lets also assume you harvested about 1500 seeds and you sold 3 pieces for #50. 1500÷3=500. So #50×500=#25,000. That means for every one udara tree you make #25,000. How much will you make when you have up to 100 trees. Meanwhile me and you know that it fruits more than that.

You can also sell the trees for money when it starts declining in nature. It is sold in the international market with the name longhi for construction purposes.

People are yet to take udara farming as a farming business so starting ahead is an added advantage.

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