Cucumber farming in Nigeria is one of the most profitable farming ventures anyone can do. As a matter of fact, cucumber farming is called Farmers’ Automated Teller Machine (ATM) in Nigeria because of its ability to make a farmer earn good income within a short time. As a profitable as cucumber farming can be, it can also be a loss making business if you do not implement good agronomic practices.
Cucumber farming involves the cultivation of cucumbers with the aim of harvesting and marketing the cucumber fruits for consumption or for sales to the public. Cucumber farming starts from soil preparation to the marketing of the harvested cucumber fruits.
Cucumber Farming Business Plan in Nigeria
Financial Plan (in Naira ₦)
FARM SET-UP FOR ONE HECTARE OF CUCUMBER FARMING VENTURE
Cost of Drip Irrigation
Installation of Drip Irrigation System
On Site Training of staff in precision farming
Soil and Water Analysis
NPK (15 bags)
Potassium Nitrate (5 bags)
Calmag (3 bags)
Insecticides (15 bottles)
PROFIT ANALYSIS FOR ONE HECTARE OF CUCUMBER FARMING VENTURE- SCENERIO 1
1000 bags @ N6000
Rent of one hectare of farmland
Labour for 4 months
PROFIT ANALYSIS FOR ONE HECTARE OF CUCUMBER FARMING VENTURE - SCENERIO 2
1000 bags @ N4000
Rent of one hectare of farmland
Labour for 4 months
PROFIT ANALYSIS FOR ONE HECTARE OF CUCUMBER FARMING VENTURE - SCENERIO 3
1000 bags @ N2500
Rent of one hectare of farmland
Labour for 4 months
The profit analyses above were done using three scenarios (best case, mid case and worst case).
Drip Irrigation: The cost of drip irrigation system per hectare of cucumber is N625,000.
Fertilisers: N200,000 is expected to be spent on one hectare of cucumber. Please note that your total cost on fertilisers can only be precisely known after a soil analysis. If your soil is very rich in nutrients, you may not spend a lot of money on fertilisers. Also, you should know the types of fertilisers to use at every stage of the cucumber plant.
Pesticides: N70,000 is expected to be spent on pesticides. The pesticides include insecticides, fungicides, acaricides and nematicides. Please do not buy cheap sub-standard pesticides. Do not be deceived by the cheap prices of some pesticides, they are mostly sub-standard.
Sales Revenue: The price of cucumbers in the market varies per season. We have the peak season and the low season. At some times of the year, the cost of a 40kg bag of cucumbers can rise to up to N8,000 while at some times of the year, a bag of cucumber can be sold for as low as N3,000. The prices have a cycle every year. It is assumed that about 1,000 40kg bags of cucumbers will be harvested from one hectare of cucumbers. It is possible for a farmer to even harvest more; it all depends on the agronomic practices implemented. Dry season cucumber farming can also be profitable.
Manure: N50,000 is expected to be spent on chicken manure. Some poultries allow farmers to come and take their manures free of charge. Chicken manure is very good for cucumber farming. You should ensure that the chicken manure is well cured before usage on your soil.
Hybrid Seeds: N240,000 is expected to be spent on the purchase of hybrid cucumber seeds per hectare. Hybrid seeds in my opinion are far better than open pollinated seeds in cucumber farming.
Cost of Labour: The cost of labour for 4 months is assumed to be N240,000. You should note that the cost of labour varies from location to location in Nigeria. For example, cost of labout in the north is cheaper than cost of labour in the south.
Knapsack Sprayer: The cost of one knapsack sprayer is N5,000. The cost of one motorized knapsack sprayer is N150,000.
Farm Tools: N10,000 is expected to be incurred on farm tools. However, if mechanized tools are preferred, the cost will be higher.
Business Description of Cucumber Farming
Cucumber farming is the cultivation of cucumbers from seeds to harvest. Cucumber as a vegetable is one of the most profitable three months crops in Nigeria. It also involves the marketing of the harvested fruits. Harvested cucumbers are usually sold in the open markets in Nigeria; they are also sold in the more organized markets like supermarkets and hotels.
Market Trend: Nigeria has a population of about 200 million; the country also has one of the highest birth rates in the world. This is a positive for crops like cucumbers. The huge population of Nigeria provides a ready market for cucumbers. The demand for cucumbers in Nigeria is huge; cucumbers are eaten as fruits and also used in garnishing meat, fish and salads. Some Spas and beauty stores also use fresh cucumbers for their beauty work.
The demand for cucumbers in Nigeria is constant all year round, though there are peaks during the festive periods of Christmas, New Year, Easter and Muslim celebrations. A significant percentage of the cucumbers produced in Nigeria are from the northern part of the country. Though, few southern farmers have embraced the cultivation of cucumbers.
Target Market: Mile 12 market in Lagos Nigeria still remains the largest market of cucumbers in Nigeria. On a normal day in Mile 12 market Lagos, about N100 million worth of cucumbers are sold within hours, sometimes, you can count up to 20 trucks offloading fresh cucumbers in this market. Other markets where cucumbers can be sold include large markets in cities and towns, hotels and supermarkets.
Hotels and supermarkets are likely to offer higher prices when buying cucumbers, however their demand is not as large as that of the open markets.
Competitive Analysis: About 70% of the farmers that cultivate cucumbers in Nigeria are illiterates and semi-illiterates; they do not implement good agronomic practices and often have low yields. They also farm on small acreages and also cultivate cucumbers only when there are rains, this forces them to sell their cucumbers at low prices.
To be competitive as a cucumber farming, you should use smart technologies like drip irrigation, plastic mulch, farm machines and precision meters. For example, drip irrigation will enable you to cultivate cucumbers all year round. Plastic mulch will also prevent weeds from growing on your farm.
Sales and Marketing Strategy
In order to make good money from cucumber farming, you should deploy effective sales and marketing strategies. Cucumber farming does not stop at harvesting, you need to know how to sell your cucumber fruits and make good profit.
If you want to sell in the open market, you need to sell your cucumber fruits directly to the buyers. In some markets like Mile 12 market, Lagos, you will need to sell your cucumber fruits through agents. These agents will charge between 5-10% of the total sales of the cucumber fruits as their commission. You must devise a way to monitor these agents because some of them can be dubious.
To sell through organized channels like supermarkets and hotels does not involve too many hassles. You need to visit these hotels and supermarkets and show them the samples of your cucumber fruits. If they look ok, they are likely to give you a purchase order.
Climatic Conditions for cucumber farming
Cucumbers can do well in tropical environments like Nigeria. Cucumbers do well under sun especially when there is enough water for its growth. Cucumbers can be cultivated in all areas in Nigeria.
The climatic conditions in southern Nigeria and northern Nigeria favour the cultivation of cucumbers. Even in the near temperate conditions of Plateau State, Obudu and Mambilla Plateau, cucumbers can be cultivated.
Cucumber plants can survive in temperatures between 15- 40 Celsius, though the optimum growth temperature is about 25 Celsius. Cucumber plants will not do well in very cold or very hot climates. Too hot temperature can lead to flower abortion in cucumber plants, flower abortion can significantly reduce yield in cucumber plants.
Land preparation for Cucumber Farming
Cucumbers can grow well in all the types of soil present in Nigeria. Be it loamy, clay or sandy soil, cucumber plants will thrive well under all these types of soil. If your soil is too acidic or it has a lot of alkaline, your cucumber yields will not be optimal.
If you want to cultivate cucumbers in the rain forest belt of Nigeria, especially if your farmland is virgin, you will need to use bulldozers to take off the trees and other types of vegetation on the farmland. Extreme care should be exercised so that the top soil will not be removed. If the top soil is removed, the cucumber plants will not do well at all.
In the savannah areas in Nigeria, land preparation is fairly easy as there are little or no trees. Tractors and even cows can be used to plough and harrow farmlands in the savannah belt of Nigeria. Land preparation in the savannah belt is far cheaper than the rain forest belt of the country.
After the removal of trees, stumps and vegetation on farmlands, plough can be done. For some types of soil, plough can be done twice. After ploughing, you will need to harrow the farmland. It is advisable to apply a lot of farm yard manure or chicken manure on your soil when doing land preparation for cucumber farming. Nematicides can also be added to the soil if the soil is infected with nematodes. Ridging can also be done after harrowing of the land.
Please note that the process of ploughing, harrowing and ridging is done by tractors. Though, some small scale farmers use animals like cows.
Fertilisation in Cucumber Farming
The first process in adding fertilisers or nutrients to your cucumber plants is to do a soil analysis or test. A soil test will reveal the types and levels of nutrients in your soil. This will guide you as to the type of fertilisers or nutrients to use for your cucumber plants.
You should be very careful when doing soil tests in laboratories in Nigeria. A lot of laboratories in Nigeria do give false results; this can lead to a disaster in your plans of making good money in cucumber farming.
Farm yard manure or chicken manure should be applied to your soil in good quantity. Manures can improve the structure of your soil whilst also providing nutrients to the crops cultivated on the soil. They also help in the retention of water and nutrients. 1-6 tonnes of chicken manure can be added to one hectare farmland before planting your cucumber seeds. Please apply manure as per the instructions of your agronomist or soil scientist.
Base dressing of fertilisers should be done after the application of manure. Fertilisers like NPK, Diammonium Phosphate (DAP), Single Super Phosphate (SSP) fertilizer, calcium nitrate and calmag etc can be used for the base dressing of soil. Cucumber plants need more of phosphorus at its initial stage, hence the suggestion for the use of high phosphatic fertilisers at the initial stage of planting.
After the application of a high phosphatic fertilizer at the initial stage of planting, a fertilizer with a high content of nitrogen should be used during the vegetative stage. Nitrogen increases the leaf mass of plants, when leaves are big, they capture more sunlight for photosynthesis, this can increase the yield of crops. Calcium fertilisers are also good for disease prevention. They help in improving the quality of the fruits of plants. Calcium nitrate and calmag are especially very useful in cucumber farming.
During flowering and fruiting, fertilisers with a high content of potassium and calcium should be used for cucumber plants. Fertilisers like potassium nitrate and potassium sulphate can improve the quality of flowers and fruits. Potassium nitrate can also make cucumber plants tolerate stress like inadequate water, excessive heat and excessive cold.
If you are using drip irrigation for your cucumber cultivation, all these fertilisers can be fertigated through drip irrigation venture injectors or dosing pumps. Fertigation is the process of passing fertilizer solutions or nutrients to plants through drip irrigation emitters. Fertigation is much more efficient than hand application of fertilisers.
Never forsake calcium fertilisers. What I have noticed in cucumber farming in Nigeria is that a lot of farmers do not use any calcium fertilizer. Calcium is the king of nutrients; it is also the trucker of all nutrients. Without calcium, other nutrients cannot be used by plants. Calcium can also make your crops very rugged so that they can be more prepared to tolerate pests, diseases and other stressors. Calcium may also enable your cucumber fruits to stay longer without getting spoilt or bad.
As good as fertilisers may be, the over application of some nutrients can spell doom to your crops. For example, excessive usage of nitrogen can make your crops or plants more susceptible to pests and diseases; it can also make the fruits more likely to get spoilt within a short time. Nitrogen can reduce the brix of your cucumber fruits. Low brix can affect the quality, texture and taste of the cucumber fruits.
A farmer willing to engage in cucumber farming can plant hybrid seeds or open pollinated cucumber seeds. However, I strongly advise the use of hybrid cucumber seeds because they tolerate pests and diseases better. Also, most hybrid cucumber seeds I have seen yield 2-5 times the yield of open pollinated cucumber seeds.
The only disadvantage of using hybrid cucumber seeds is the cost, however, the yield will offset the high cost of the hybrid seeds.
Direct Sowing of Cucumber Seeds or Nursery
In cucumber farming in Nigeria, direct sowing of seeds is advised. Though, some farmers use nursery in order to conserve seeds, I do not advise it. Transplanting of cucumber seedlings can be tricky; cucumber seedlings are susceptible to transplant shocks.
With direct sowing method, you do not need to transplant the seedlings. You simply plant the seeds in small holes and cover the holes with soil.
Irrigation for Cucumber Farming
I have never seen anyone who made super normal yield and profit in cucumber farming in Nigeria without using drip irrigation. If you really want to have a good yield in your cucumber farm, you need to use irrigation especially drip irrigation.
Drip irrigation will enable you to apply fertilisers daily to your cucumber plants; this process can improve your yield by as much as 200%. I have seen a cucumber farmer who had a 200 percent increase in yield because he fertigated nutrients daily.
Drip irrigation in cucumber farming also allows all year round cultivation of cucumbers. A cucumber farmer can always cultivate his crops and make good money all year round.
Drip irrigation also allows farmers to reduce the cost of fertilization and cost of labour. With drip irrigation, the cost of labour of applying fertilisers by hand can be significantly reduced. Drip irrigation enabled fertigation also allows for the reduction in the use of fertilisers.
Staking in Cucumber Farming
Staking is one of the most important tasks in cucumber farming. Yes, some cucumber farmers do not stake but they hardly achieve high yields. When you leave your cucumber plants to crawl on the soil, they are likely to get infected. The cucumber fruits can also get infected and get rotten.
Staking can be done with the use of bamboo or planks, binding wires and ropes. Staking nets can also be used for staking of cucumber plants. Staking can improve the health of cucumber plants and their fruits.
Weed Control in Cucumber Farming
Plastic mulch can be used on your cucumber farm to prevent the growth of weeds. Plastic mulch can also help in conserving water and the fertilisers applied to your cucumber farm.
Weeding can be done by hand with the use of hoes, cutlasses and rakes. Weeders in form of brush cutters and other machine like weeders can also be used.
Some people use herbicides in the controlling of weeds in cucumber farming. I do not advise the use of herbicides as they contribute to the reduction in yields in cucumber farming, despite the fact that they help in controlling weeds.
Do not allow any weeds on your cucumber farm; weeds can reduce your cucumber crop yield by as much as 98%. Good plough and harrowing can bury weeds and their seeds.
Pest Control in Cucumber Farming
Cucumber plants attract a lot of pests and diseases. As a matter of fact, most cucumber farmers start seeing insects and other pests on their cucumber plants with a few days of planting.
Pests that attract cucumber plants include thrips, aphids, insects, beetles, grasshoppers, fruit borers, whiteflies and nematodes etc. Not well cured manures can bring a lot of pests to your farm. For example, wet manure can introduce cut worms to your farm. Cut worms damage cucumber plants by cutting the seedlings at the stem level.
A cucumber farmer should ensure that the manure he wants to apply on his farmland is well cured and free of pests. Biopesticides and microbial innoculants can be added to the manure to speed up decomposition and to attack any pests in it. Neem cake can also be mixed to the manure.
To control pests like insects, fruit borers, aphids, mites and thrips on cucumber plants, good insecticides can be used. You should not use one type of insecticide all the time, this can lead to resistance issue. Neem oil added with soap can also be used for pest control; this is good for organic farmers.
Insecticides are used to control insects, acaricides or miticides are used to control mites and nematicides are used to control nematodes. Nigeria is a unique country; you have to be very careful when buying pesticides. A lot of the pesticides sold in Nigeria are sub-standard.
Control of Diseases in Cucumber Farming in Nigeria
Downy mildew remains the commonest and deadliest disease in cucumber farming in Nigeria. A lot of people believe downy mildew is a fungal infection, this is not too true. Downy mildew is caused by oomycetes, oomycetes are not true fungi but they share a lot of attributes with common fungi. Downy mildew makes the leaves of cucumber plants turn brownish and yellowish; it also causes defoliation and death of leaves. Downy mildew affects the photosynthetic ability of plants, once your cucumber plants cannot produce food for itself through photosynthesis; the yield of the cucumber plants reduces significantly.
Downy mildew can reduce the yield of cucumber plants by up to 98%. It is a very deadly disease. In the case of downy mildew, prevention is better than cure. Your cucumber plants should be well fed with nutrients, good fungicides should be used once a week. During the rainy season, you may use different types of fungicides several times in a week.
Neem oil and biopesticides can also be used to ward off diseases in cucumber farming in Nigeria. The secret of disease control is prevention. Prevention is always better than cure.
Stages of Growth in Cucumber Plants
Cucumber crop planted in the open field in Nigeria generally last for between 70 – 110 days depending on management.
In greenhouses, cucumber plants can last for up to 6 months if properly managed. In the open field in Nigeria, most hybrid cucumber varieties start fruiting as from the 37-45th day. Harvesting is expected to be done every 2-3 days. Leaving big fruits on your cucumber plants without harvesting them will reduce your overall yield as the big fruits will not allow new fruits to emerge.
Cucumber plants start flowering from the 28th day, though some varieties start flowering at a later date. Please note that open pollinated cucumber varieties do not fruit as early as the hybrid varieties.
Harvesting in cucumber plants start from 38-45 days especially if the variety is hybrid. Hybrid cucumbers variety lasts longer than the open pollinated varieties especially if stored in a cool and dry place.
Cucumbers are ready for harvest when they are big and still green in colour. Cucumber fruits left for too long on the plant will change in colour. Discolored cucumber fruits are not marketable. A cucumber farmer should ensure that his cucumber fruits are harvested on time.
It is better you sell your cucumber fruits immediately after harvest. Cucumber fruits will lose quality if you keep them for a very long time after harvest.
Open Field Cucumber Farming
Cucumber farming is mostly done in the open field in Nigeria. Open filed cultivation of cucumbers do not need any protected covering or house. From our experience, about 98& of the cucumber farmers in Nigeria cultivate cucumbers in the open field.
Open field cultivation of cucumbers is not as expensive as the use of greenhouses. All a farmer needs is to get a farmland, prepare the soil, make ridges, fertilise the soil and plant his cucumber seeds. Staking is very important in open field cultivation of cucumbers.
In the open field cultivation of cucumbers, the use of pesticides is very important because the plants do not have covering that can shield them from pests. Staking is done with the use of bamboo or planks, binding wire and ropes. Staking can also be done with the use of staking nets.
Cucumber Farming under Greenhouse
Cucumbers can be grown in greenhouses. As a matter of fact, cucumbers grown in greenhouses do have a longer harvesting interval than those grown in open field.
A greenhouse is an enclosed structure used for the cultivation of crops. The enclosed nature of greenhouses protects the crops from some kind of pests.
Greenhouses allow for intensive cultivation of crops. More fertilisers and inputs are used per cucumber plant in greenhouses than open field. The high density planting allowed in greenhouses also make each cucumber plant in a greenhouse to have a higher yield than cucumber plant in the open field.
Most of the cucumber farmers in Nigeria do not use greenhouses because of the huge capital needed and the expertise needed to manage it.
Organic Cucumber Farming in Nigeria
A lot of people now eat organic foods because of the acclaimed health benefits. Yes, cucumbers can be cultivated under organic conditions. Organic farming does not encourage the use of chemicals in any form at all. In organic farming, the use of manure, compost, biopesticides, microbial innoculants and organic soaps are encouraged.
Neem oil for example can be used for the control of nematodes, insects, mites and thrips. It is also very effective in the control of whiteflies. There are some beneficial microbes that can be used for the control of insects and pests in cucumber farming.
Cucumber Varieties in Nigeria
There are a lot of cucumber varieties in Nigeria. There are hybrid cucumber varieties and open pollinated cucumber varieties. The hybrid varieties are more expensive than the open pollinated varieties because they have better pest and disease resistance ability; they also have higher yields than the open pollinated varieties.
Some open pollinated cucumber varieties include marketmore and poinsett. Some examples of hybrid cucumber seeds include Murano F1, Tokyo F1, Darina F1, Greengo F1, Monalisa F1 and Nandini F1 etc.
Yield of cucumber
A one acre cucumber farm in Nigeria can yield up to 30 tonnes. It is not uncommon for cucumber farmers in Nigeria to harvest up to 600 – 700 bags per acre. A bag of cucumbers weight about 40kg. Farmers who do not implement good agricultural practices get poor yields in Nigeria.
The yield of your cucumber farm will depend on the soil fertility, types of fertilisers used, control of pests and diseases, availability of water, level of weeds, weather and other factors.
Strategies to use to increase yield in cucumber farming
Training: To get a good yield from your cucumber farm, you need to get trained on how to use precision agriculture strategies. Never rely on how cucumbers are cultivated by the average farmer in Nigeria. Training is very important in vegetables farming. It can make you get a good yield and super normal profit.
Financing: Money is vital in all businesses. Cutting corners in order to avoid some expenses may spell doom for you as a cucumber farmer. You need to sort out your finances before venturing to engage in cucumber farming. I have seen a lot of cucumber farmers who had low yields because they did not plan their finances well before they embarked on cucumber cultivation.
Farmland: Getting a soil that is rich in nutrients will reduce your cost on fertilisers. Also, if your farmland is near a motorable road, you can reduce the cost of getting your cucumber fruits to market.
Soil and Water Analysis: The golden rule of farming is that you must conduct a soil test before embarking on any activity on your farmland. Soil test will show you the nutrient and microbial profile of your soil. It will guide you on the type of fertilisers to use for your farmland.
Skilled employees: If you cannot manage and run your cucumber farm yourself, you should get experienced and skilled farm hands. Most farm hands in Nigeria are from the Republic of Benin and Togo. Young people in Nigeria do not like farming work, you should be extremely careful when engaging Nigerians as farm hands.
Preparation of your soil: Your soil should be well prepared before you embark on cucumber farming. Ploughing, harrowing and ridging should be done on your farmland before you plant your cucumber seeds.
Use drip irrigation: Drip irrigation can ensure that your cucumber plants have access to water all year round. It is also water and labour efficient. With drip irrigation, you can fertilise your cucumber plants easily and it can also boost your farm yield by 30 -200%.
Fertilisers, pesticides and other inputs: As a cucumber farmer, you should buy the right quantity of fertilisers, pesticides and other inputs needed in order for you to get a good yield.
Crop Management: Crop management is very important in cucumber farming. A cucumber farmer should walk around his farm daily and scout for pests and diseases. The conditions of all plants should be carefully checked every day.
Harvesting: Failure to harvest your cucumber fruits on time can lead to a reduced yield. Leaving big cucumber fruits on your cucumber plants can prevent new fruits from emerging. It can also cause flower and fruit abortion.
Cucumber farming in Nigeria is unarguably one of the most profitable farming activities around.