Okra is a nutritious and vegetable crop. It grows from between 4 and 5 feet as its maximum height. Here are Steps To Start Okra Farming Business In Nigeria.
The length for harvesting okra can be between 3 and 5 inches or it can be longer. Nigerians use okra and one of the most popular soup in Nigeria is okra soup.
Okra is a vegetable popular in Ethiopia, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria and many other countries. It is often called ‘ lady’s finger’ and ‘gumbo’.
Read Also: How To Prepare Okra Soup In Nigeria
What are the health benefits of okra?
1. It reduces the level of cholesterol in the body
Okra can cut down the level of cholesterol because it contains soluble fibre which can reduce fat. This helps to prevent cardiovascular diseases.
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2. Okra eradicates cancer
Eating okra can eradicate cancer of the breast and is one of the benefits of the vegetable crop.
3. Reduce bleeding and osteoporosis
Okra has vitamin A and can cause blood clotting which can reduce bleeding. The vegetable crop can cut down osteoporosis and enhance the health of bones.
4. Okra contains magnesium and calcium
Calcium and magnesium are among the vital elements good for the human body. Okra contains these elements.
5. It reduces gastritis and H. pylori
It can reduce bacteria which leads to gastritis (inflammation). This reduces the infection of the stomach lining. H. pylori is more common among children who are 2 to 5 years in age so children have to eat okra often.
6. Okra helps the eye sight
Okra has vitamin A which can improve eye sight. It contains beta-carotene which are primary nutrients. Beta-carotene and vitamin A can reduce diseases from age.
Read Also: Advantages Of Eating Fruits
7. It has antioxidants which can delay fatigue
Polyphenols and flavonoids has okra seeds which can enhance the storage of glycogens inside the liver. This prevents someone from getting tired very fast.
8. Okra reduces malnutrition
The pods of okra contain zinc, calcium, iron, protein and fibre which are primary nutrients for the body. Eating okra makes someone not to get hungry immediately and can reduce weight.
What are the species of okra that you can cultivate?
This has no spine and has open pollination. It comes with glossy, dark green and fluted pods. Prelude okra takes between 50 and 55 days to mature and can yield more than others. You can harvest it when it is between 1/2 and 3/4 inch length.
2. Lee variety
Lee is spineless too but has angular pods which are straight and green. It is semi-dwarf specie and takes between 55 and 58 days to mature.
3. UGA Red
This has red pods which are beautiful and can function as ornamental plants which grows in the garden.
4. Hastings Improved Perkins
This specie has a star shaped pod and a deeply cut leave. It takes 49 to 53 days to mature.
5. Dwarf Green Long Pod
The plant has multiple branches and the pod has the shape of a star. It matures from between 52 and 55 days.
6. Clemson spineless
It has much yields and is spineless. The shape is angular and matures in about 55 to 58 days. This specie yields much and is recommended for commercial cultivation.
7. Louisiana Green Velvet Variety
This retains seeds when you slice them. It has a shape that is round and takes 56 to 59 days to mature.
Emerald is spineless and has leaf which is smooth, semicut leaf with the shape of a round pod. It takes between 58 and 60 days for maturity. It is preferable for processing and canning purposes.
The climate for cultivating okra
Okra does not thrive well under low temperatures. It thrives on a temperature of between 22°C and 35°C. Okra needs rainfall that has even distribution.
Okra thrives well on sandy loam soil which are well drained inside organic compounds. The PH of the soil for okra ranges from 5.8 to 6.8. Take a soil sample once to the field to test before going on to plant.
Preparing the land
Get the land ready and make beds and ridges since this helps the okra to yield better. Use compost in the beds and prepare the land on time. Fumigation of soil will cut down nematodes.
Use of crop rotation
The use of crop rotation should not be with crops like potatoes but with crops like sorghum, grass crops and maize.
Planting time for okra
You can start planting during the dry season since okra needs some heat and rainfall.
Spacing and planting okra
You can plant okra manually or with seed planters. Sow it for 1/2 to 1 inch inside the soil, space it between 12 and 15 inches in row. The space between the rows is between 24 and 36 inches. Use the space for efficient moisture, sunlight and nutrients.
Soak the seeds overnight inside water before planting to promote growth. You may not have to plant only okra but you can intercrop with onions and maize.
Remove weeds using herbicides before cultivation. Ensure that the herbicides are applied according to the instruction of the product label.
Insects that feed on okra foliage are:
- Aphids which suck the foliage.
- Caterpillars which eat leaves.
- Flea beetles which eats leaves.
- Blister beetle which eats the blossom and foliage of the plant. Blister beetle has narrow neck and are soft. They are between 1/2 and 3/4 inch in length.
Insects that feed on the pods are:
- Leaf footed bugs which suck the pod and the blossom.
- Corn ear worms which leaves tunnels and holes and chew pods.
- Stink bugs which causes distorting, twisting and has irregular shape.
Nemicides can reduce Fusarium wilt. Cultural practices like crop rotation, soil solarization and suppressive crops can control diseases and pests. Crop rotation can reduce leaf spot. Apply chemicals with some measures to avoid contamination.
Harvesting your okra
Harvesting to process
You can harvest okra 3 times for each week using pods that are more 4 1/2 inches in length.
Harvesting for the market
Harvest when the crop is between 2.5 and 4.5 inches and you can grade them into 2 pods. Choice pods are between 3.5 to 4.5 inches in length. You can snap the pod with scissors or using knife. The prickly stems can be irritative to the skin. Wear gloves. Remove all mature pods.
Cool the okra and store by refrigerating, soaking inside salt and canning. You can store between 7 and 10 days or 7°C to 10°C of relative humidity to avoid wrinkling. Okra can deteriorate under 7°C. Ensure there is ventilation of the okra containers.
Promoting your okra business
This can be with the use of adverts or by word of mouth.
Okra is a nutritious crop and comes with many health benefits. Many Nigerians eat okra making it a lucrative business in Nigeria.
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