Apple is one of the worlds most precious and highly consumed fruits. The estimated total world production of apples in 2017 was 83,139,326 metric tonnes.
China is the largest apple producer globally, with about 35 million tons produced in 2011, which was nearly half of the world’s production rate. The second-largest contributor is the United States whose yearly production rate is an average of 4.6 million tonnes, with almost every US state producing apples.
The European Union comes second place in yearly apple production rates with an average production rate of just over 14 million metric tons of apples.
Apples hardly grow in Nigeria because they require cold conditions for optimal growth and fruit production; nevertheless, in the past apples were developed in regions of Nigeria like the Jos, Mambila, and Obudu plateau.
Nigeria imported 51,200 metric tonnes of apples in 2014. The number grew to 57,500 metric tonnes in 2015 but dropped significantly to 35,400 metric tonnes in 2016.
According to export statistics, international purchases of imported apples cost a total of $8.2 billion in 2018. Of this amount, Nigeria accounted for $29.7 million to rank 47th largest importer in the world.
Despite Nigeria’s large import rate of apples, it can be grown in very specific regions of the country as mentioned above, and if you’re looking to start an apple farming business in Nigeria in any of those places, you can read on:
What Is An Apple?
An apple is a sweet, juicy, edible fruit produced by an apple tree (Malus Domestica). Apple trees are globally cultivated and are the most widely grown species in its genus.
The apple tree originated in Central Asia, where its wild ancestor, Malus Sieversii, is still found today. Cultivation of apple has been ongoing for thousands of years in Asia and Europe and was brought to North America by European colonists.
What Is Apple Farming?
Apple farming refers to the cultivation of the apple crop for personal consumption and commercial purposes.
Business Opportunities Available In Apple Farming
1). Food Production:
Apples can be eaten fresh or in a variety of dishes such as fruit salads and custards. Apple can also be baked, minced, mashed, frozen, dried into chips or other forms as a healthy, sweet snack.
2). Juice Production:
Apple juice is a staple drink worldwide and is included in many fruit drinks.
3). Cosmetics Production:
The oil extracted from apple seeds are useful and have many applications especially in the cosmetic industry. The benefits of apple seed oil include reducing the appearance of acne, reducing wrinkles, and moisturizing the skin.
Facts And Benefits Of Apple Farming
- Apples help reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
- Two thousand five hundred varieties of apples are grown in the United States.
- Seven thousand five hundred varieties of apples are grown throughout the world.
- About one hundred varieties of apples are grown commercially in the United States.
- Apple trees take four to five years to produce their first fruit.
- Apples promote dental health.
- Apples contain properties that help reduce inflammatory conditions.
- Apples are healthy food which helps in weight loss.
- Apples could increase blood circulation, which keeps the skin looking young and toned.
- One large apple provides approximately 17 per cent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C. This essential vitamin helps to increase immunity against infections and diseases.
- There are more than 7,500 known species of apples.
- Eating Apples help provide fresh breath.
- Apples account for 50 per cent of the world’s deciduous fruit tree production.
Types Of Apples
1). Red Delicious Apples:
Red Delicious apples are beautiful, red, and almost crimson. They’re mildly sweet and crispy.
The Red Delicious apples variety is the most common variety around the world. Red Delicious apples were formerly the most popular in the US, but in recent years, the fruit has encountered competition from other new varieties such as Gala and Fuji. It is heart-shaped, and its skin is bright red with tiny gold stripes.
2). Fuji Apples:
Fuji apples are becoming increasingly popular due to their ultra-sweet, crisp texture. They’re cultivars of Ralls Janet and Red sweet. They’re typically pink with green and yellow speckles or stripes.
3). McIntosh Apples:
McIntosh apples are deep red with green patches. They’re very juicy, tangy, and tart with a tender texture. They’re great for making apple sauce or just slicing up and eating on their own.
4). Honeycrisp Apples:
The Honeycrisp apple has a mild honey flavour as the name implies and a unique crispness. The distinctive yellow colouring topped with red and pink adds to its significance.
5). Jonagold Apple:
This is a combination of Jonathan and Golden Delicious. The Jonagold apple is yellow with a significant touch of red. It is a large apple with a sweet and slightly acidic taste. It is crispy with white flesh and perfect for baking or eating.
6). Rome Apples:
Rome apples are one of the best cooking and baking apples around, the Rome apple retains its shape and texture when cooked much better than nearly every other variety. Rome apples have a crispy mild flavour. They are also delicious for eating but are intended mainly for cooking.
How To Start Apple Farming In Nigeria: Step By Step Guide
1). Seed Selection:
Growing an apple tree from the seed does not necessarily guarantee that the fruit produced from these trees will bear fruit or be the same kind of apple. So it is better to select or buy seeds of apple trees that would do well in your climate zone, or it may lead to death once planted outside.
When growing an apple tree from the seed, the tree produced will grow to its full height of about 30 feet, and this would take several years to mature.
2). Land Preparation:
Your seeds will need to be planted outside in a prepared seedbed or a container. Apple grows best in soil with a neutral pH.
Except for leaf mulch or compost, no fertilizer should be added.
Several factors should determine the spot you plant your tree. These include sunlight, soil, and space.
Apple trees need full sunlight. This means six or more hours of direct sunlight daily.
Evaluate your options for possible locations before you plant.
3). Seed Planting:
Apple trees need to be planted in soil that will retain moisture but drains well. The soil should be moderately fertile and have a relatively neutral pH level.
Ensure the apple tree has enough space for its root system to grow.
Dig a hole of two feet in depth and loosen the walls of the dug hole to help the apple tree’s roots to penetrate the soil.
While the apple tree is still very young, it should be watered every 10 to 12 days. As the tree grows, you can cut back on the watering, only maintaining soil moisture. As they grow, you may need to water them less often. However, water the tree every one to two weeks in summer.
During other times of the year, the tree can handle itself, unless it is an arid area; therefore, an equivalent of 2.5cm of water a week is ideal for the first year.
Fertilize your tree when it has gotten older as the apple trees should be fertilized each spring.
Fertilize the tree before the tree begins to produce buds. You should use a fertilizer with a nitrogen and oxide content (NPK) of 10-10-10. You should put in half a pound of it for every inch of the tree’s trunk diameter.
Too much nitrogen would lead to excessive vegetative growth and without producing fruit.
The tree branches should be pruned as they grow to avoid too many clusters of fruit on an apple branch which could double the weight and affect the plant.
Once the apples have matured, they can be immediately harvested by plucking.
Challenges Of Apple Farming In Nigeria
Here are some challenges that can affect starting apple farming in Nigeria, Africa, or many other places around the world:
- Poor climatic conditions
- Pest and diseases
- Lack of highly equipped storage facilities
- Lack of efficient production mechanisms
- Poor funding of research activities
- Bush burning
- Lack of adequate widespread knowledge on how to produce high-quality products
- Lack of funds to import international standard processing machinery
- Thieves and criminals
To Sum It Up
Apple farming is not widely practised in Nigeria as the plant grows in specific climatic conditions. Still, the odds can even out as Nigeria possesses a vibrant soil and suitable weather in key parts of northern Nigeria.
The apple farming business in Nigeria can be a lucrative and profitable venture to start-up, due to its vast market demand and on your own ability to build a wide supply chain network. If you’re looking for a farming business to venture into, the apple farming business in Nigeria is a great option to explore.