Okra farming also called okro farming is one of the most profitable farming ventures you can do in Nigeria. Most if not all Nigerians eat okra, this type of vegetable is used in the preparation of soups.
It is not too difficult to be successful in okra farming. You just need to cultivate your okra crop scientifically. Farming is science and you should take it as a very serious business.
When you plant your okro crop like the average Nigerian farmer, you are likely to make little or no money from it.
How to do okro farming successfully
Get a fertile farmland
Before you get a farmland for your okra farm, you need to carry out a soil test. The soil test will show the fertility of the soil. It will also show the pH, nutrients and microbial count of your soil.
Ensure that your farmland is fertile. If you cannot get a fertile farmland, you can add manure, microbial inoculants and fertilizers to the soil to make it fertile.
To make good money from okro farming, you need to prepare your farmland. Farmland preparation involves felling of trees, de-stumping, ploughing, harrowing and ridging etc.
Your soil should be loose with no hard pans. Having ridges can be very beneficial to your okra crop.
Mechanised farmland preparation is faster and much more efficient than the use of manual labour especially if your farmland is big.
Install drip irrigation
I strongly advise you use drip irrigation for your okra farm. With drip irrigation, you can farm all year round. This is called brain fed farming. Rain fed farming allows you to farm only when it is raining. During the rainy season, prices of okra are always very low and you can experience glut. This can lead to loss if you are not careful.
With drip irrigation, you can apply fertilizers and other nutrients to your plants through the emitters of the drip tapes. This process is called fertigation, it can increase the yield of your crops by 40-200% if done in the right way.
With drip irrigation, you can also significantly increase your okra plant density without any adverse effect.
Get good okro seeds
A lot of okra seeds sold in Nigeria are expired and not fit for farming. I advise you get your seeds from accredited seeds dealers.
Hybrid seeds generally perform better than open pollinated seeds. However, you should plant the variety of okra eaten by the people around your farm. I know a number of farmers who planted varieties of okra Nigerians do not eat. Of course, they recorded losses.
You can soak your okro seeds in a solution of potassium humate to increase the germination rate. You can also use biofertilisers and microbial inoculants to improve the germinate rate.
Buy other farm inputs
Your okra farm will need inputs like fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides etc. You can use 100% organic inputs or inorganic inputs. You can also use both organic and inorganic farm inputs.
Ensure you buy your inputs from good farm inputs sellers like Veggie Grow Limited.
Recruit members of staff
Ensure you mechanise your farm’s processes as much as possible. You need to employ labourers and a farm manager.
Most farm labourers in Nigeria are from the Republic of Benin and the Republic of Benin. You can also employ people who live near your farm.
Never make the mistake of employing those with big qualifications without experience as your farm manager. I know farm managers who studied non—agric courses and they are performing far better than those with advanced degrees in agronomy. Experience is very important in farming.
Weeds can reduce your yield by as much as 98%. Weeds also harbour pests and diseases. You should ensure that your farm is weed free.
There are small mechanized weeders you can use to make weeding very easy for you.
If your okra farming is based on organic farming principles, you can use bio-fertilisers, manure, microbial inoculants and humates.
For inorganic farmers, you can use fertilizers like NPK, urea, DAP, calcium nitrate and potassium nitrate etc. Buy your fertilizers from accredited dealers.
Application of pesticides
This also depends on whether you are an organic okra farmer or an inorganic okra farmer. There are good organic pesticides and also good inorganic pesticides.
You just need to decide on the products you want. Most organic pesticides are more effective for prevention.
You must apply your pesticides according to the instructions. Also obey the pre harvest interval.
Harvesting your okra every 2-3 days will help to increase the yield and the well being of the plant. Delaying of harvest can lead to a significant dip in yield.
Okra farming can make you smile to the bank if done in the right way.