Melon (egusi) has been an important crop in our economy because it is used in making soups, has edible oil which can be extracted from it and also has medical importance. It is known for its crawling or climbing features. That is, the stem climbs on any other plant around or crawl on the ground. The white, bitter flesh of the egusi is not edible, but the seeds are a staple of local diet. Egusi is easy to grow in Nigeria’s warm, arid climate. Does this Spark an idea?
Melon (egusi) farming is fast enriching farmers in Nigeria and you shouldn’t be left behind on this opportunity. If you are confused on which agribusiness to venture into, then consider melon (egusi) farming in Nigeria. In Nigeria, the melon is known by different local names by the different ethnic groups. In Yoruba, it is called efo elegusi, the Igbo call it egusi, while the Hausa people call it miyan gushi.
This only informs you that melon is widely accepted in Nigeria, thus making melon (egusi) farming very profitable. Aside from using it to make soup, the nutritional benefits are just so many. One good thing about melon (egusi) farming is that you can grow it easily with very little stress. Unlike other crops in Nigeria, it will interest you to know that melon is very resistant to most pests and diseases.
Egusi soup is one of the most popular soups in Nigeria. The Hausa people call it miyan gushi; the Yoruba tribe calls it efo elegusi, while the Igbo people call it ofe egusi. The soup is very tasty and it is made with seeds of the “wild watermelon” otherwise called egusi.
How Profitable Is Melon (Egusi) Farming In Nigeria?
Are still in doubt of the profitability of melon farming in Nigeria? If your answer is yes, then let us look into the profitability of melon (egusi) farming proper. Just as I mentioned earlier, it is widely accepted in Nigeria, Africa, and the world in general. If it is generally accepted, then you should know that the market is large.
Aside from using the melon to make soup, you can also extract oil from the seed. You can use the oil for cooking or salad oil, it is all about your choice. There is also the opportunity for you to export the seeds to Europe as it is processed into vegetable oil. You can see now that there is money to be made from melon (egusi) farming in Nigeria. All that is required is your ability to get the right information.
This right information is what this article will supply you with. If you are interested in venturing into melon (egusi) farming in Nigeria, here are the guidelines that you need.
How To Plant Egusi (Melon) Step by Step Guide
The melon plant thrives on soft soil, so the clumps of hard soil will have to be broken down. Once it is broken down into a fine, loose mix, the soil is ready for planting.
The planting season is between April and June which is the start of the rainy season. Egusi grows very well in arid climate. After preparing the land, ridges are created and the dried shelled seeds are planted in these ridges.
Generally, melons do not thrive on open flat fields. It is best to plant the seeds in a place sheltered with trees. These trees can serve as support for the climbing tendrils.
You can add organic compost prior to planting the seeds. Place 3 to 5 seeds in each hole at a depth of 2 inches. The spacing between seeds should be between 18 to 20 inches.
Then water the seeds regularly. Usually the seedlings appear within a week. The plant is expected to sprout within 1 week. Once the seedlings are fully established, you should also add manure or organic compost. If there are no trees to support the climbing vine, you can use stakes to support the melon plant. It takes about 6 months for the plant to mature. Usually, 1 stem of melon can shooot out 5 to 15 heads. One head can produce up to 150 seeds.
Also, you can increase your agricultural output by planting your melon with other crops. Some of the plants that can be intercropped with egusi include cassava, yam and maize. However, the melon vine is a climbing plant so you might need to plant in small quantities when intercropping.
Since the melon plant is a climbing plant, you can provide support for the vine by staking. Usually the melon gourd is ready for harvest within 90 days.
Harvesting (Egusi Melon Farming)
The melon gourds are usually harvested between October and December. The melon seeds can be stored for as long as possible, however they can be susceptible to fungal attacks from the disease-causing strains of the Penicillum and Aspergillus species. These attacks tend to reduce the seed germination and increased seed discoloration. They also reduce the nutritional benefits of the plant and produce toxic metabolites and aflatoxins.
Once the stems are dry, you can harvest your watermelons. At the time of harvest the fruit turns from the green to white or yellowish-white.
You can break the melons after harvest and leave for 1-2 weeks to allow the melons decompose then you can start collecting the seeds. However, this is a very smelly process so you might need to do it far away from home especially if your farm is close to your home.
Melon is usually harvested between the months of October and December. After harvesting your melon gourds, the seeds can be stored as long as you want. You just have to be aware that the seeds are prone to fungal disease causing agents like Penicillium and Aspergillus species.
The melon is harvested once the stems dry or the melon gourds or fruit turns from green to yellowish-white in color. After harvesting your melon gourds, you break it open and leave for a maximum of 2 weeks to decompose. After this decomposition, you can start collecting your melons seeds.
Once you are done with collecting your melon seeds, you can then take them to the market for sale. As explained earlier, melon (egusi) farming business have a readily available market all around Nigeria. Why not consider this business today and join the happy Nigerian farmers that melon (egusi) farming business has made millionaires.
Wrapping up (Egusi Melon Farming)
The extent of your harvest is usually dependent on much you’ve planted. Usually, 1kg of melon seeds can produce between 450kg to 2 tonnes. If you increase the quantity of seeds you’re certain to reap a bountiful harvest. However, the process of extracting the seeds from the gourds can be quite uncomfortable due to rotten smell pf the gourd.
Notwithstanding, there’s readily available market for melon seeds otherwise called egusi and it doesn’t matter what part of the country you live, you’ll certain receive a great return on your investment.
Tips and Warnings (Egusi Melon Farming)
Break open egusi melons after harvest and leave for a week or two to decompose before collecting the seeds. Decaying melons smell bad, so do this a good distance from your home.
Melon can be inter-cropped with major crops (cassava, yam, maize) in Nigeria as additional crop in the farm but in this case, it should be in smaller quantity so that it won’t disturb the main crop because of its climbing feature.
In a good area (fertile land), one stem of melon can shoot out 5 to 15 heads therefore needing enough space to do well. It still needs wider spacing than groundnut needs to help in proper weeding.
When you want to harvest, you just need to cut the heads from the crawling stem. You can allow for sometimes when it can be easily squeezed to press out the seeds if you don’t want to do it as it’s still very fresh. You can still sell them off to the begging buyers without stressing yourself to bring out the seeds.