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Nigeria bitter kola farming now on the rise

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By Usman Oladimeji

Farmers are now seeing profits owing to the current uptick in demand.

In recent years, the rising demand of bitter kola from domestic consumers and international markets have given a rise to the cultivation and the replanting of old trees in Nigeria where the practice had nearly died out. After Nigeria recorded its first Covid-19 pandemic breakout in 2020, many residents turned to the nuts as a means of fortifying their immune systems against the virus. The flowering plant also known as Garcinia Kola is a species of the Clusiaceae family. The seeds, nuts, and bark of this plant are all commonly utilized in alternative medicine to treat a wide range of conditions.

Many different Nigerian ethnic groups regard it as a significant cultural emblem. The kola nut is traditionally broken open during social occasions such as weddings, funerals, and naming ceremonies to show respect and make attendees feel at home. The cash crop market nearly failed completely due to limited demand over the years. However things are starting to turn around as farmers of the crop are now seeing profits owing to the current uptick in demand. Ayopo Somefun, a bitter kola grower in Ogun State, said that increased demand has reversed the trend of people cutting down bitter kola trees for firewood.

Production of the crop in Nigeria is not enough.

In his words “Nigeria has only recently begun cultivating the farm crop. I just cultivated 10 acres, and I had to import seedlings from Burkina Faso because our research center did not have any. Somefun explained that enhanced seedlings take six months at the nursery and four years to begin fruiting. The country does not produce enough to meet current demand, so exports to surrounding African countries are used to make up the difference. “It is hard to find a bitter kola tree in the country less than 30 years old,” he said.

Maryam Suwara, a bitter kola vendor in Berger, Lagos, said demand spiked during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic and has remained high. She claims that the current going rate for a paint rubber of the nuts is between N37,000 and N40,000 (give or take based on negotiating power and nut size), while the going rate for a 50-kilogram bag is between N296,000 and N400,000. Now in Nigeria, the crop has risen as a lucrative cash crop for both human consumption and use as a raw material in the pharmaceutical and brewing industries.

Bitter kola may be cultivated in a wide range of soil types.

As demand for bitter kola increases worldwide, farmers and exporters in Nigeria have an opportunity to profit from this growing industry. Several Asian countries, including China, Indonesia, Thailand, and Japan, are among the most active markets for this product right now. It’s exported out in wet, dried, or powdered form, depending on the buyer’s requirement and preferences. Due to its exceptional adaptability, the farm crop may be successfully cultivated in a wide range of soil types.

The remarkable adaptability exhibited by bitter kola trees in the face of adverse climatic conditions and impoverished soil makes it possible for abandoned old trees to survive. Cultivation of this particular crop is predominantly cultivated in the South-West, South-South, and North Central regions of the country. Notably, the states of Ondo, Niger, Enugu, Osun, Oyo, Imo, and Ogun have the most extensive areas of production. Nigerian farmers typically harvest the crop between April and October, but the crop is stocked and sold year-round. Its height is between 30 and 60 meters.

Small scale entrepreneurs can start trading comfortably.

Presently, there is no data available pertaining to the cash-crop even from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization. Those interested in exporting can make a modest or grand scale first step into the industry depending on the funds at hand and buyers choices. Small scale entrepreneurs have the capacity to begin their trading with comfort solely with a viable email address. This particular product possesses the unique characteristic of neither being perishable nor is it fragile.

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