Cotton is one of the major cash crops in Nigeria. Its importance has grown over the years with farmers making tons of profits. Although there has been tremendous progress, a huge deficit in supply still needs to be met. Major cotton producing states in Nigeria include Zamfara, Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, Ogun, Ondo, and Oyo. These states have the largest share of production. The economic potentials of this industry are enormous. Hence farmers can take advantage of these opportunities to make wealth.
In light of the above, helping you start a lucrative cotton farming business is our focus. Everything you need to know about cotton farming will be revealed here.
Cotton and its Uses
Most people know cotton as a raw material used for textile and garments. However, there are several uses you may not have known of. Several consumer goods are made from cotton. These include coffee filters, for making archival papers, for fish nets and book binding. In addition to these, other uses include cotton oil extracted from cotton seeds. This oil is edible and also used for making cosmetics, pharmaceutical products, margarine and soap among others. It also has fibre content.
Cotton seeds are used in making feeds for cattle too. There are several other uses you can derive from cotton. However the most important this is that you will never be out of options of what to do with your cotton produce.
The Cotton Industry and its Capacity to Generate Employment
Being a versatile agricultural produce, its value chain is diverse. Its reach is wide as well. The value chain created by cotton farming gainfully employs both rural and urban populations. Its capacity to lift a diverse segment of the society’s population makes it an investment worth considering. This fact has made the Cotton Development Committee to be established. This federal agency is saddled with the responsibility of coordinating the cotton sector of the economy.
The textile industry in Nigeria has witnessed a huge decline in recent years. This has led to the closure of many textile mills. However, thre is a renewed interest in this sector by policy makers. This is good for the cotton economy too.
Requirements for Cotton Farming
As with any venture of worth, cotton farming requires certain things to be in place. The most important requirement is land. This takes up a huge part of expenses (to be discussed later). Having a farmland large enough for commercial farming is necessary. The size of the land is however relative. If manual labour will be used, the land size is normally smaller when compared to mechanized farming.
Additional requirements include good seedlings, fertilizer, and pesticides for treating your plants. These are necessary and basic requirements without which you cannot start cotton cultivation.
The process of cotton farming starts with cultivating your farmland. The good news is that you do not require a very fertile farmland. This is because cotton is very tolerant crop and grows well on poor soils. Hence applying fertilizer would suffice. Silt loam is best for cotton farming. The soil PH value should be 5.5. Ridges have to be made and seeds planted on them. Because cotton grows into shrubs, adequate spacing is necessary.
These plants grow up to a meter tall. Wider row spacing from 38 to 40 inch should be adhered to. However narrower ridges can be used with proper space management. 3 seeds should be planted per hole and should be 1 inch deep. A 4 inch spacing between plants/holes is necessary.
Crops begin to sprout a week or two after planting. It should be noted that this requires an area with good rainfall. The plants will blossom into shrubs. Cream and pink colored flowers emerge briefly. This gives way to fruit at pollination. The fruits or cotton bolls that emerge will later produce cotton. Before then, you need to weed off your farm. This ensures the cotton plants are given optimal growing conditions. Pest control is also necessary within this period. This is because your crop is likely to be attacked by pest. Proper pest control eliminates pest and limits losses.
Cotton Formation and Harvest
The fruit/boll that emerges after flowering later splits open, exposing the cotton. This is ready for harvest after all the plant bolls are open. The cotton fibre is allowed to dry. This results in a fluffy texture. The next stage involves picking the cotton. This is picked or harvested with the seed and gathered into bales. The cotton ginnery is where it is sent for separation. Here, the fluffy lint is separated from the seeds. These are collected or packed into bales and made ready for the textile or cotton spinning mills. These are essentially the steps you follow in cultivating your cotton crop.
Cost Implications of Cotton Farming
Profit margin is largely determined by cost implications. This becomes a very vital area of business you do not want to overlook. The major cost implications for cotton farming arises from seedlings, pesticides/chemicals and fertilizer. However the largest capital requirement is land. This is where a major part of your expenses will be channeled into. Depending on where the land is located, this can go anywhere from N600,000.00 to N5,000,000.00 per plot. Having a land saves you a lot of cost. Cost of farm inputs pales in comparison to that of obtaining a land.
The average cost for cultivating cotton on a hectare of land include the following; labour-N50,000.00, seedlings-N5,000.00, Fertilizer-N30,000.00, agro-chemicals -N20,000.00, tools and implements-N20,000.00. By totaling these expenses, you have N125,000.00. However this can be significantly higher or lower depending on factors like inflation and the exchange rate value.
Profit Potential of Cotton Farming
On average, a hectare of land will yield 2 to 4 tonnes of cotton. Therefore translating this to its cash equivalent, a ton of cotton ranges from N165,000.00 to N180,000.00. Using the N180,000.00 benchmark and multiplying by the total yield (2 to 4 tonnes per hectare) you obtain N360,000.00 to N720,000.00. This shows a great potential for profits, especially when compared to the cost of production. The returns of investment is appreciable. While this is the case, you need total diligence and commitment to realize such results.
Mechanized Cotton Farming
Although most of the farming practices in Nigeria is manual, mechanized farming is practiced in a handful of places. This is not very popular among farmers due to the cost implications. However it is the best system of commercial farming. To exploit its advantages, small farm holdings are less than ideal. You will need vast farmlands, a hectare and above for maximum output. For the most part, our attention has been on the manual methods of cotton farming. Mechanized farming on the other hand requires significant financial investments. Some of the equipment you would have to buy include tractor(s), combine harvesters as well as other accessories.
This significantly cuts down on time as well as labor requirement. This is necessary for large scale farming. Using this option, work is simplified and productivity improved. Under this method, large storage facilities are necessary. There you have it. The basics of cotton faring in Nigeria. The opportunities are there for the taking. Everyone can start commercial cotton farming. However your scale of production will be determined by your financial strength.