Coconut farming plays a major role in the economy of some countries and about 86 countries produces coconut. But the three major producers of coconut are India, Indonesia and Philippine.
The economy of India and her people depends so much on coconut farming.
It is a tropical plant that can grow under any climatic condition and soil type. Coconut palm is also known as the tree of heaven because of their various uses. Everything about the tree is useful to man, it has economic, medicinal and nutritional values.
Nigeria is the 18th producers of coconut in the world and we are not even there yet. Because we are not utilizing the opportunities that lies in coconut farming.
There is need for us to create value chain for both local and International consumption especially now that the export market is growing by the day. It will go a long way in providing jobs to thousands of unemployed youths through its numerous sectors.
To buttress the product’s export strength, from coconut shell, you can produce Coconut Shell Charcoal Lumps.
Nigeria can realise more than a billion dollar from coconut exportation if fully harnessed. We need more coconut Industries to support the few that are already existing. Lagos Coconut Industry can be given a boost with more Investment so that it can serve as a source of foreign investment to the Government.
People can stand anywhere in Nigeria even on the road to purchase, drink coconut water and eat the young nuts. This should be an indication for investors and entrepreneurs that the best time to invest in coconut farming is now.
Hence, the new technological approach for coconut cultivation been introduced that can help Coconut farmer to succeed.
The best soil for coconut farming is sandy-loam this is because it can hold and drain water. Choose a suitable site for this with respect to the number of years involved in the activities. It should be your personal land or a land you can lease for about 50 years or more.
If you are purchasing let it be outskirt of town (suburb) where you can buy land with low price. Make pathways in the land, clear grasses, remove shrubs and trees. Plough and harrow the land for easy operation.
Further prepare the land by digging holes of 1m × 1m. Mixed the top soil with animal dung such as poultry, pig, cow, goat dung etc. or compost manure. Fill the hole to about 50cm – 60cm. Treat the soil with chemical for any trace of termites or any other pesticide.
Transplant coconut seedlings after a year from the nursery or when they show a minimum of 5-6 leaves and a girth of 10cm at the collar level. Early splitting of leaves is a good sign that the seedling is good.
Coconut seedlings has nuts attached to it in fact that is the same nuts they grow from. Put it in the hole like that, it is the reason 40cm-50cm space was left out from being filled in the hole. Fill it up now with the remaining soil you mixed with dung and press or level the soil well to prevent waterlog farm. Planting should start during the early rains (April-May).
Use square planting just like oil palm farming; if you want to learn how to cultivate oil palm, click here. 7.5m × 7.5m is the ideal spacing for coconut farming. However you can choose any spacing that favours you. 7.5m will accommodate 178 seedlings in a hectare. Other spacing to use are 10cm × 10cm, 8cm × 7cm etc.
Provide shade for the transplanted seedlings in other to prevent lost of moisture at the early stage. Also stake the seedlings to prevent them from falling.
Raising coconut nursery is not easy, especially the dwarf variety. It is advisable you buy your seedlings from places like Nigeria Seed Council Ministry Of Agriculture and Rural Development or from an established Nursery Companies.
Irrigate the plant during dry season with 50 litres of water every week, this will increase nuts yield by 50%. Use drip irrigation during this season it is very effective cost wise as well as in labour.
Weeding can be done 3 times a year. It will be wise to weed coconut plantation once the weed starts emerging. For a large farm use labourers or machine to do the weeding.
Apply blood meal, neem oil or groundnut cake. 50kg of manure should be applied on each plant within a year. Organic manure such as cow dung is what most farmers use now to raise their farm to completion, using such manure for coconut will go a long way to improve their performance.
However, if you want to use inorganic manure a combination of Urea, ammonia and potash is ideal for coconut farming.
PEST/DISEASES IN COCONUT FARMING
Common pests are beetles, red palm weevils, bug, black headed caterpillar etc. Common diseases are leaf rot, bud rot, stem bleeding, wilt etc.
Avoid injury on the trunk, hand-pick the insects, use neem oil or water.
Apply pesticides accordingly.
Rats attack tender nuts thereby making immature nuts to fall. Use traps to catch or fumigate the surrounding farm.
Intercrop coconut farm with pineapple, banana, groundnut, cassava, sweet potatoes; or crops that are smaller in size example legumes etc. This should be practised for about 3 years after which you start mixed cropping.
Coconut plants are eco-friendly as such it can accommodate other plants. You can cultivate the following perennial crops at their advance stage; cocoa, cashew etc
It takes 4 – 9 years for coconut tree to reach maturity depending on the variety planted and their agricultural management. They produce in bunches maturing at the same time. From the time coconut fruits to when it is matured for harvest is about a year. They attain full size within 6 months.
Coconuts are ready for harvest once the nuts turn brownish or yellowish in colour. They sometimes fall down on their own but you can use sticks to harvest them. Use ladder or rope to get to the top of the tree for the tall ones then use your hand to pluck them.
They produce and fruit throughout their lifespan, coconut can live for more than 60 years. A tree can produce 70 nuts in a year while hybrid coconut tree can produce about 200 nuts in a year. 60% of oil can be processed out from hybrid coconut. That is why hybrid coconut seedlings should be planted for commercial coconut farming.
To Be Continued…
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