Waterleaf farming business is a kind of business that can provide #100,000 and above on a monthly basis. Their leaves and stems are consumed as food. It is mostly used in cooking soup, example includes; bitter leaf, afang, edikang ikong, melon soups etc. They are fleshy, soft and green in colour with pinkish flower that makes them look so beautiful to behold.
Waterleaf plant just like ugu is mostly grown in the South-south region of Nigeria especially in Akwa Ibom /Cross River States, they use it virtually in all their soups except for few.
Waterleaf can grow on their own, during raining season you will see them sprouting all over the farm such that some people even see them as weed and then go ahead to remove them to create space for what the intend to plant.
WHY YOU SHOULD GO INTO WATERLEAF FARMING BUSINESS
Waterleaf is everyday food and the demand for it far outweighs the supply.
It has a faster turn over because you can harvest them every 2 weeks depending on the farming practices used.
Water leaf is easy to plant, all you have to do is stuck the stem into the soil or spread the seeds on the bed. But you can pay labourers to make beds and plant for you. You can even employ workers to manage the farm for you if you cannot create enough time for it. Waterleaf farming requires optimum time and care.
Anybody can do waterleaf farming because it does not require much experience all you need do is to have the technical know-how and then you are good to go. With little research you can manage your farm as if you have been in the business for a long time.
It is easy to manage, once you are done with planting, the next thing to do is to keep watering the plant until harvest.
Weeding can only be done once before harvest and this can be done through the use of hand since the ground is soft once you drag the weed which is mostly grasses they follow without much stress.
Waterleaf farming business requires a little space you can even round them around your fence. With a small start-up capital of about #20,000 excluding the land you can start the business.
People that are looking for a side business can take advantage of waterleaf farming business.
IMPORTANCE OF WATERLEAF
Although they are mostly used for soup preparation it is also known to have medicinal value. Waterleaf contains vitamins and proteins which are very beneficial to the human body. In Akwa Ibom State mothers use them to wash their children stomach when they are sick especially for the treatment of malaria.
Waterleaf has medicinal value, a person that consistently consumes it often will have a glowing skin. it is also said to be beneficial for the lungs as it clears off any threat.
It has anti oxidant properties which is very good for people suffering from paralysis or stroke. Since it is a vegetable it will be wise for diabetic patients to take them often because vegetables generally contains vitamin which is good in boosting metabolism in the body.
Scott Isaac, MD. clinical instructor of medicine at University School Of Medicine said that, if you are mildly dehydrated, your metabolism may slow down so eating vegetables that contains plenty water like waterleaf is important.
For economic and aesthetic purposes. Waterleaf can be used to decorate our surroundings as well as being sold for money.
The land should be sandy-loam, be able to absorb and retain water. Waterleaf plant thrives well in a rich soil that has good moisture. The location of the land should be accessible, it shouldn’t be too far so you can manage it well.
Make beds about 5m by 2m in size or according to your desire and also as you can manage. Put walking distance between beds so as to walk about freely without matching the waterleaf. Make the beds by tilling the soil and raising it to some level. Soils that are raised have been found to do better than the ones on plain ground. The tilling of soil will help in aeration and weed control.
Mix poultry dung with soil and water and spread them on the bed this will help in enriching the soil and also conserve moisture.
HOW TO PLANT WATERLEAF
After preparing the bed the next thing to do is planting. You can plant by using its seeds or by planting their stems. Planting of waterleaf should be done early in the morning or late in the evening and also when the temperature is low and humidity is high. Spread (broadcast) the seeds on the bed if you are using seed within 5 days they have already germinated.
But if you are planting with waterleaf stem then plant them in clusters, reduce the stem to about 3-5 inches and insert them into the soil gently. Although it can germinate whichever way you plant them even if you lie them down but it is advisable to stand them for quick germination and for easy penetration of the root into the soil.
NOTE: do not plant in sloppy or waterlog area.
WHEN TO START WATERLEAF FARMING
It can be started anytime of the year but for more profit and good establishment it is advantageous to start during dry season (November-April). At this time you can control the amount of water entering into the farm and can make 3 times the profit you would have made during wet season. In dry season waterleaf becomes very fresh, fleshy and healthy which is good for the farmer.
You can also start during raining season and still make good money provided you can control the amount of water that will enter the farm. If you have enough money at your disposal you can do green house planting of waterleaf.
Poultry manure over the years has proven to be the best for waterleaf farming. This dung is what most of the farmers have been using and are still using. You don’t have to use the manure directly, mix them up first with water so as to reduce their acidic contents before applying.
Waterleaf needs a lot of manure in other to grow well just like but care must be taken in other not to overfeed them so you won’t end up having more beautiful flowers on top than the fleshy leaves. Other dung to use is Cow, Pig, Goat etc.
If you don’t want to use organic manure then you can make use of inorganic fertilizer such NPK. But these days organic manure is what is trending, it is very secured and healthy for use in terms of human health concerns.
PROFITABILITY IN WATERLEAF FARMING
As already said it is highly profitable especially the dry season waterleaf farming. Assuming you planted 10 big beds in a half plot of land and sell each out for #10,000 to retailers that will generate #100,000, let’s assume the first sell is for expenses, other subsequent sells becomes your profit. More beds mean more money.
And you can keep harvesting for more than a year before replacing them. Can you quantify that? You won’t have to buy to restock or expand your farm rather you take out from your already existing farm which is an added advantage as expenses will be reduced.
HOW LONG SHOULD I KEEP A WATERLEAF FARM BEFORE RESTOCKING?
It depends on the yield. If what you are getting out of the farm is reasonable or keeps growing then you don’t have to be in a hurry to restock just continue to manage the farm until there is retardation in growth and a drastic decrease in profit.
If you keep on feeding them and their growth ability is not responding well then it is time to restock your waterleaf plant with new ones for better yield which will result in more profits.
DISEASES IN WATERLEAF FARMING
Every living thing is susceptible to diseases. Waterleaf plant at one point or another is being attacked by pest and diseases. The pest that attacks them is mostly caterpillars they eat the leafy part of the plant. It can be controlled or eliminated by hand picking and killing them. You can also spray ash on the leaves to drive pest away.
Another noticeable symptom apart from the eating of the leaves is the darkening of some parts of the leaves.
Waterleaf can be harvested between 2-3 weeks of planting the stem and 3-4 weeks of planting the seeds. They can be harvested when the leaves are well spread out or are tall enough to be tied together with rope. Although some people hardly wait for the waterleaf plant to grow and attain good height, they harvest them immediately they leave starts coming out.
This will not yield much money as the matured ones would have done. Harvesting is done by cutting the stem with knife few inches from the top, leaving behind some of the stems for continuation.
You can use hand to harvest them but for a commercial farm that is big, it is preferable to use a knife in harvesting for uniformity, for a faster and less stressful harvest. Be careful not to uproot them while harvesting as this will mean destruction.
Talk to market women that deals on waterleaf about your farm, they will come and buy the beds, harvest them and sell as they want. After that you will not need to go to them anymore they will be the ones coming for it.
In fact, it sells itself once the market women know that you are a waterleaf farmer, on their own, they will come to your farm to buy and harvest by themselves.
Read Also: Detail Guide On Walnut Farming Business
You can sell directly to consumers and make more profit. In that case, you will have to cut them down the previous day, get them ready, very early in the morning you take them to the market as early as 5 am before 6-7 am you are already at home. Retailers will gather and buy them all or you sell them to schools that cook to their boarding students, restaurants, hotels etc.
You can also sell to other intending waterleaf farmers who are going into the business too.
IRRIGATION IN WATERLEAF FARMING BUSINESS
As the name implies waterleaf contains about 95% of water or more as such needs enough water to grow well but care must be taken not to apply too much water. Because this can make the waterleaf plant (stem and root) to rot and die off.
Water should be applied moderately morning and evening if there is no rainfall. Irrigate the farm less if there is enough rainfall to hold the ground.
For dry season farming, you will need a source of water. You can dig borehole if you can afford it or dig a well. Use drip or sprinkler irrigations but are good.
OTHER CROPS THAT CAN BE PLANTED IN A WATERLEAF FARM
You can plant vegetables such as scent leaf, bitter leaf, curry plants around your waterleaf farm and sell for additional profits while also acting as a cover that can reduce the amount of sunlight entering directly into the plant.
HOW TO PLANT SCENT LEAF
Scent leaf can be planted by cutting the stem of a parent plant; dig a hole of 5cm into the ground, put the cut stem into it and cover with soil.
Start watering immediately, continue until the plant is established especially during dry season. During raining season you may not bother to irrigate them especially if the rain is coming frequently.
Another method of planting scent leave is by seed propagation. Take the dry seeds of the plant, it must be the ones that got dried on the plant.
Prepare a bed just like that of waterleaf and spread the seed on it. Water it adequately until the seeds germinate, you can then transfer them to the main field or where you want to position them.
Here is something to note, you can make money no matter the season you plant waterleaf but there is one thing I have noticed. Waterleaf is always in short supply in the southern states especially in my own state Akwa Ibom during raining season due to too much rain.
So if you know how to work your way out maybe by using greenhouse method you will make a lot of money. Make sure you raise your bed very high at this time so that water can drain out faster.
As a result of this, the price of water leaf will go up, a bunch that is sold #100 during the dry season is sold #400 during the rainy season. But as a beginner, I will advise you start your waterleaf farming during the dry season because you will have 100% success in it. If you can rain prevent from entering the bed and apply water by yourself the better for it.
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