Farming is daily gaining grounds as a major income earner and an effective and sure way to reduce poverty in Nigeria. This is further fueled by several legislations introduced by the government to help farmers. The term farming encapsulates several things. However our focus is on Tiger Nuts farming. This crop has increasingly become popular among Nigerians as it has several uses. The primary use of course being consumption. Is there a large market for Tiger Nuts? Absolutely! There is a large market for this crop as its uses are quite versatile. You should also know it has health benefits too. These benefits will be highlighted in greater detail shortly.
Health Benefits of Tiger Nuts
Tiger nuts are known to prevent cardiovascular diseases. This is an all too common disease presently posing a threat to millions. Its other health benefits include being a good source of Vitamins E and C. It is a good source of protein, cures erectile disfunction, controls diabetes, acts as a good remedy for indigestion as well as being rich in fibre. Tiger Nuts have several other health benefits. Its many uses means it can be prepared or consumed in several ways. It can be consumed fresh or dried, grounded into powder form or any other way deemed fit for consumption. Its many health advantages as well as its high demand in the market place makes it ideal for commercial production.
Different Ways Tiger Nuts are Consumed
Tiger nuts are consumed in a variety of ways in Nigeria. However the most common is by eating them whole. This is hawked by sellers across the country. You will find basically two types of Tiger nuts; fresh and semi-dried. All of these are delicious. Some people prefer the fresh type while others like the semi-dried ones. Semi-dried Tiger nuts have a longer storage life than the fresh ones. The fresh ones are less harder and fleshy as compared to semi-dried ones which are more harder. Semi-dried Tigernuts are brownish in colour and wrinkled. This crop has different names in Nigeria. Aya is the name in northern Nigeria, Aki Awusa in the South-East and Imumu in the South West.
In the north, a beverage called Kunun Aya is made from Tigernuts. This is milky and made by extracting the juice from it through a process of grinding, cooking and sifting. It is a delicious drink that is fast gaining popularity among Nigerians. The chaff from Tigernuts can be used for a variety of things including compounding of feeds. It can also be added to flour to make different types of foods. You are never restricted on how to use it. Due to its high nutritional value, you can incorporate it whatever you want to make. Being creative is a great way of deriving maximum benefit from this superfood.
Starting a Tiger Nuts Farming
The rising demand for this crop makes it an ideal area of investment you should consider. The best part is, it does not require substantial funding. There is currently a deficit in supply, as demand far outweighs supply. It is also an export crop you can earn foreign exchange from. Tigernuts are not nuts as the name suggests. They are actually tubers which grow underneath the ground surface. It can grow on almost any soil type. However, well drained sandy loam soils are ideal for growing this crop. Tiger nuts can grow 20-60 cm into the soil. Therefore when cultivating, you should make your ridges high enough to allow for ideal growth of this crop.
Tigern nuts can be grown during the rainy season or through irrigation. This means that cultivation can be done all-year round. Mild weather forms the perfect condition for growing Tiger nuts. It can be planted through its seeds/tubers or through its rhizomes which is the part after the root. Plant them 5 to 9 cm into the soil. The spacing should be from 15 cm between seeds. After it first sprouts, it normally starts growing tubers 6 weeks after. The tubers will reach maturity within 3 to 4 months.
Tending Your Crop
Tiger nuts are known to have the characteristics of some weeds which are considered stubborn and tough. This attribute is good for business as it will require lesser care for your crops to grow optimally. Nevertheless you still need to care for your crop by weeding off any grass as well as applying fertilizer. This significantly increases the chances of you reaping a bountiful harvest. The profit potential is endless due to the fact that more uses for it are continually found. However, a primary requirement to realise your goal is having a farmland. The larger it is, the better it gets for you.