A revolution in the agricultural industry is now taking place, not only in Nigeria but all over the world. Food is a major necessity of life and the governments of the world cannot afford food shortages as this could lead to a crisis. If there is a better time to start a business in the agricultural sector, that time is now.
Do you have undeveloped land in a remote area, or have you inherited land that you know you will not develop in the next ten years? Then this is the best time to turn that land into an income-producing asset.
Why you should start a palm oil plantation today
The oil palm is one of the most useful trees ever known. Every part of the tree -from its fruit to its leaves and trunk, to its sap- is used for one thing or another. While the fruits are transformed into palm oil and palm kernel oil, the leaves are used to roof houses in rural areas and camps, and the sap (palm wine) is a refreshing drink that is drunk in many parts of Africa.
Palm oil is red in color and is used for domestic cooking in many countries. It is also used in the production of soaps and cosmetics, as is palm kernel oil, which is made from the same fruit.
If you live in a country like Nigeria, Ghana, etc., where the demand for red palm oil is huge, both nationally and industrially, you can get great benefits by starting an oil palm plantation. Read on to find out what you need to know and do to start an oil palm plantation.
Starting a Palm Oil Plantation Business
The planting of oil palms simply involves the cultivation of oil palms. When the time comes to harvest, you will sell your palm fruits to manufacturers, who will process the fruits to produce red palm oil. After the harvest and sale, you will wait until the next harvest season to sell again. This can go on for decades, which means that an oil palm plantation can continue to earn huge revenues for several years.
What are the requirements to start an oil palm plantation?
Although it may not sound like a business, due to the label “plantation” . But the truth is, an oil palm plantation is a business, and you should consider it as such. This means that starting it requires the same input factors that other businesses require, which are land, labor and capital. We will now discuss each of these factors.
Since you are starting an oil palm plantation, you will definitely need a large area of land. This can vary from a few plots to hectares of land, depending on what can be obtained.
The first important factor to consider when acquiring land for your oil palm plantation is the soil. Is it fertile? Would it be suitable for oil palm cultivation? If you have doubts about the quality of the soil, have it examined by experts. This is very important, for obvious reasons.
Also, since your land will be your production factory, so to speak, it must be located where buyers can easily evaluate it. Although you can easily find land with good soils for oil palm cultivation, you should choose one that is motorized, since most of your buyers will use large vehicles to transport the oil palm fruit from the farm to the processing sites.
After acquiring a piece of land, you will need to prepare it well for planting. The use of tractors to spray and loosen the soil and remove the hard roots in preparation for the planting of palms is strongly recommended.
Although you may not need to hire permanent staff, you will need to hire people to help you in each stage of the process of starting an oil palm plantation. For example, you will need to hire workers or a tractor operator for the clearing process. You will also need to hire workers for the planting process. And every time you need to harvest, you will need to hire workers to take care of the task for you.
This refers to the money required to start the business. This includes the cost of acquiring land – whether buying or renting, the cost of hiring workers, the cost of maintaining the farm, and the cost of buying the seedlings you will start with.
After having discussed the requirements to start an oil palm plantation, we will now look at the steps necessary to start an oil palm plantation.
- Acquiring land and preparing it for planting
- Buy the seedlings you are going to plant. Although you have the option of growing the seeds yourself, this takes time and can result in low yielding seedlings. One seedling sells for N150 in Nigeria (about $1). You will need at least 1000 seedlings for a moderate sized plantation.
- Plant the seedlings in the already prepared soil. Make sure that there is adequate space between the plants. Without adequate spacing, the roots interfere with each other, leading to limited growth and low yield. The best spacing is 8-9 meters between any two plants.
- Weed the farm and apply fertilizer to the plants at intervals. This interval varies with the quality of the soil and the speed at which the weeds grow around the plants. You will need to get an expert’s recommendation for this.
How long does it take to start harvesting?
Your first harvest will be about two years after planting your seedlings. Therefore, if you have the capital and other requirements, now is the best time to invest in your future by starting an oil palm plantation.