Okra farming in Nigeria
Okra is one of the most popular vegetables in Nigeria, consumed by almost all the household across the country. Okra production in Nigeria is widely accepted because of its profitability and affordability. Okra farm is easy to set up, cultivate, it requires less technicality compare to other vegetables, okra is not prone to pest and diseases.
Okra originated from West Africa, with the scientific name Abelmoschus esculentus. It is also called ladies fingers in some countries. Okra is popular in Nigeria because almost all the tribe in the country use it in the preparation of varieties of soup.
The nutritional value of okra cannot be undervalued. Okra is rich in protein, vitamin, and minerals. Almost all the part of okra plant is edible, the fruits can be eaten raw or sliced and boil, the seed could be dried and use in the preparation of vegetable curds or as coffee additives.
The good thing about okra production in Nigeria is that it can be interplanted with other crops like cowpea, beans, tomatoes, and maize.
The Economic Importance of Okra
• Okra helps lower the chances of cardiovascular disease because it contains soluble fiber which naturally reduce cholesterol.
• Okra contains vitamin A and beta- carotene which helps to improve eyesight and prevent eye-related diseases
• Okra is rich in calcium and magnesium, which helps in preventing calcium and magnesium deficiency
• It supports bone development
• It helps in easing respiratory disease, because of the high content of vitamin c
• Okra when boiled and mixed with lemon juice help in facial cleansing
Okra does well on varieties of soil, so far it’s not waterlogged. It is essential to plant on fertile soil that is well drained. Preferably loam or sandy loam. Fertilizer or organic manure can also be added to the soil to improve soil fertility.
Depending on the choice of the farmer, okra can firstly be planted in the nursery site before transplanting to the field or it can be planted directly on the field.
To hasten germination, it is advisable to soak the seeds overnight in water.
Okra can be planted with a spacing of 1-2 inch apart.
Weed and Pest control
Weed and pest control are one of the important management practices to ensure optimum okra production. Weed control in okra production can be carried out through a variety of methods which include the use of cover crops and mulches, cultivation and hand weeding, and applications of herbicides targeting the specific types of common weeds in a particular field. Early identification of pest and diseases is key to successful management in okra production.
Harvest starts 2 months after planting when the pods are still soft for consumption and should be done every 5 days; this also helps to stimulate the formation of more pods. This process should be done carefully, to avoid bruises because at this stage they are still tender.