Lettuce farming in Nigeria has grown into widespread cultivation either as backyard farming or commercial farming. Forget about your region, you can cultivate and make huge profit if the required establishment conditions are met. No more seasonality disadvantage as the cultivation hindrances has been settled by less-stress approach, technologies and agronomic practices. So, no more fear, you can plant and make a great return in this Agribusiness.
Lettuce is used in the preparation of salad and decoration of food all over the world. It is consumed raw or blended as a juice because of its attractive appearance and nutritional composition. It has been confirmed as a replacer for some vegetables like waterleaf, bitter leaf and pumpkins for common dishes in the Southern part of Nigeria.
Similarly, its availability in foreign countries has made Nigerians abroad not to miss their home country as they include it in Edikang Ikong, Ekpang Nkokwor, Affang soup, and Egusi soup. To add, it is also used as an ornamental plant.
Lettuce overall benefits and usefulness has spurred its demand in Nigeria. Hence, there is an increasing and unmet demand for lettuce farming. More farmers have to bridge the production gap while creating abundance. It can never be a regret for anyone who desires to dive into this great opportunity because laughter is sure at the end. So, you have got to stock in this guide for you to start a profitable Lettuce farming in Nigeria.
Varieties of lettuce
The commonest ones are Leaf lettuce, Romaine lettuce, Iceberg lettuce and Argula with green colour and crispy mouthfeel. You can buy disease-resistant seeds from an online merchant or buy in their physical store. Remember when starting plants from seed, follow the instructions on the packet.
Soil Preparation and Requirement
Lettuce grows on a very much cleared, ploughed, drained and rich Sandy topsoil. If the farmland is not rich, add organic matter to increase fertility. It does not grow well in the waterlogged area and erosion must be controlled. The best soil pH is 5.5 – 6.5. Lettuce can be firstly planted on Nursery before transplanting, or it can be planted through good agronomic practices on the bed from the scratch till its harvest time. However, this depends on the farmer’s expertise, tools, and resources available.
Mode of Propagation
Lettuce is planted by seed or stem. The stem can only be cut and planted on a new bed only if the parent plant is mature.
Nursery and Transplanting
Broadcast the seed on the nursery bed or furrow as best as you can. Thinning enhances thickness and proper growth, so, it can be done when it sprouts out between 10-12days leaving it on the spacing of 40cmx40cm. It takes 2-3 weeks before transplanting. On transplanting, the spacing should be about 6-10 inches to give allowance for spreadability. This spacing can be maintained on any planting medium.
Though lettuce requires little water, irrigation system availability would be a good initiative towards making this plant available throughout a year and beyond; for continuous cultivation during the dry season. However, waterlogging is prohibited. The soil must be drained. To deal with this, modern technology practices for water draining and application should be put in place for maximum yield. Drip Irrigation can be used for water and nutrients application. During nursery and while on the bed, watering should be done in 3-5 days interval.
It is important to apply manure or fertilizer on time due to its short growth cycle. Potassium and phosphorus-rich manure or fertilizer can be added between 6-8weeks.
The ideal temperature for lettuce farming ranges between 45˚F and 65˚F (20-22˚C). It thrives very well in a cool environment.
For optimal growth and yield, weeding should be carried out at least twice before harvest.
Diseases and Insects Control
Common pests are leaf miners, aphids, and whiteflies. Seedlings are mostly affected, however, chemicals can be used to control all these insects and diseases. Insecticide can be applied two (2) weeks and five (5) weeks after planting.
Harvesting and Yield
It takes lettuce about two months to mature. The first harvest could be around 40-60 days, depending on the variety. Depending on the client’s choice, it can be uprooted or cut the external leaf leaving the plant to grow new leaves.
Cutting would make new shoots develop on the initial plant, sprouting new leaves faster which can be harvested continually. The stem too can be planted on a new bed where it can be harvested within 5-7 weeks.
Profitability and Marketability of lettuce farming in Nigeria
Its profits stem from continual harvest. 1kg of lettuce cost on the average #500 in Nigeria because of it unique purposes. It can be sold on E-commerce platforms, to restaurants, hotels, for ceremony and to individuals who loves eating vegetables. People’s consciousness has painstakingly increased towards eating greens.
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