Maize farming in Nigeria started on a subsistence level in Nigeria and it has gradually risen to a commercial level in which many agro-based industries depend on maize as raw materials. Maize is one of the major staple food and most grown cereals in Nigeria. This is so because maize is easy to grow, and moderately fertile soils can be used.
Maize farming is one of the most lucrative agribusiness in Nigeria, because it gives an incredible return on investment. One of the major reasons maize is in high demand in Nigeria is its high energy and nutritional value. It is rich in vitamins A, C and E, several essential minerals, and contains up to 10% protein. It is also rich in dietary fiber and carbohydrate.
Maize farming in Nigeria is one of the agribusiness agripreneurs should venture into, because of its potentials.
Some uses of maize in Nigeria
• It serves as food- Maize can be further processed to what is called Pap (Ogi, Akamu) majorly taking by adults and nursing mothers. It can also be processed into flour (semovita)
• It serves as feed material for animals – Maize constitutes almost half of poultry and livestock feeds. The stalks, leaves and maize cobs are used to feed livestock animals.
• It serve as raw material for industries – Maize has high starch content which makes it a high-demand industrial raw material for ink, paint, cosmetics, glue e.t.c.
• The stalks and cobs can also be used as organic manure.
• Maize is also used in the production of corn oil, sweeteners, and ethanol.
• Maize is also used in the making of popcorn
Setting up a maize farm in Nigeria is easy compared to other crops. Detailed below are steps by steps guide for setting up a maize farm in Nigeria.
The first and most important thing in setting up a maize farm in Nigeria is to acquire a suitable land. Maize is a hardy plant that can be grown almost anywhere. But to attain maximum yield, maize grows best in rich loamy or sandy loam. The soil should also be well- drained, fertile, have adequate pH and not waterlogged. There should also be access to adequate sunlight, as maize loves sunlight, so the acquired land must be open and free from any kind of shade.
The land can be cleared using manual or mechanical means, the main objective of land preparation is to remove weeds and keep the soil loose for maize germination. Maize does not really require a smooth bed. It is usually good to plant immediately after land preparation to avoid weeds completing with the maize.
Selecting Maize variety
There are different varieties of maize seeds in Nigeria that can be planted. Care must be taken when selecting maize seed variety because the selected variety determines the yield. Maize seed variety should be selected based on the following
• Target market or consumer preference
• Fast growing
• High yielding
• Disease resistant
It is also vital when selecting maize seed to know that early season maize variety differs from late season variety.
Also, avoid buying maize seeds from open markets as these seeds may already be contaminated by diseases or of a low yield seed. Always buy seeds from reputable sources
Maize seeds are planted with a spacing of 25cm × 75cm. 25cm between crops and 75cm between rows. Plant at a depth of 3-4cm, at two seeds per hole.
Maize seeds are usually planted at the onset of rainy season, to aid good seed germination, plant growth and yield. Apply pre-emergence herbicides immediately after planting to suppress the growth of weeds.
The main nutrients requirement for maize is nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Fertilizer can be applied 2-3 times before harvesting. Organic manure which comprises of livestock droppings can also be used.
Pest and disease control
It is always important to protect maize from pest and diseases like armyworms, grasshoppers. Pesticides and cultural practices can be used to control them.
Maize is usually harvested 3-4 months after planting. Harvesting is also done based on target market, the maize can be harvested fresh or dried. Harvesting can be done manually by hand or with machines that separate the cobs from the stalks.
Maize can be sold directly to the local markets, feed mill or industries that use maize as their raw material. To further increase its value, maize can be processed and sold for a higher amount.
Setting up a maize farm in Nigeria is not capital intensive, as the initial capital is very low. But without the basic knowledge of maize farming and how it works, it can be very disastrous.
Maize farming PDF
This PDF manual was developed based on research results and field experiences of Maize value chain development experts. The PDF discusses the following:
- Maize planting season, Recommended Varieties
- Weed control practices in maize farming
- Diseases and pest control
- Handling, processing, storage and marketing.
This PDF is useful to beginner farmers, processors, marketers, extension agents and other experts who are supporting cassava commercialization in Africa.
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