Mango farming presents a lucrative opportunity for aspiring agribusiness entrepreneurs in Nigeria. With increasing domestic demand and export potential, mango production is a profitable venture. However, proper planning and management are crucial for success. This guide provides a step-by-step overview of starting a mango orchard in Nigeria as a beginner.
Selecting Suitable Mango Varieties
- Prioritize commercially popular varieties that are high-yielding and have good fruit quality.
- Recommended varieties include Kent, Keitt, Palmer, Maya, Tommy Atkins, Van Dyke etc.
- Consider climate adaptation of varieties, matching them with suitable mango growing regions.
- Dwarf and high-density planting varieties are great for getting higher yields per acre.
- Mix early, mid and late-season varieties for extended harvest and marketing periods.
- Source certified, grafted seedlings from reputable nurseries for best results.
Choosing a Good Orchard Location
The ideal location for a mango orchard should have:
- Tropical or near-tropical climate with temperatures between 24-28°C.
- Medium to high rainfall between 1000-2500 mm annually. Dry season helps flowering and fruiting.
- Deep, well-drained, fertile sandy loam or clay loam soils. Low saline and alkaline levels.
- Flat or gently sloping land. Avoid flood prone areas.
- Sunny location with minimal wind exposure. Mangoes require full sun.
- Access to reliable water sources for irrigation like rivers, lakes, wells etc.
- Proximity to roads for market access and transportation of produce.
Some of the best mango-growing regions in Nigeria include Plateau, Benue, Niger, Oyo, Ogun, Osun, Anambra, Imo and Cross River States.
- Survey potential sites taking into consideration soils, climate, water availability and market access.
- Acquire suitable land via purchase or long lease for commercial mango cultivation.
- Ensure the land has proper title documentation to avoid future disputes or claims.
- Minimum of 5-10 acres is recommended for a viable mango orchard operation.
- Prepare the land by clearing vegetation, tilling, levelling and installing an irrigation system.
Orchard Design and Layout
Proper orchard design improves yields, management and efficiency:
- Space mango trees at recommended distances for the varieties grown e.g. 10 x 10m, 5 x 5m for high density.
- Layout straight rows oriented North-South to maximize sunlight interception.
- Install an irrigation system with main and sub-main lines and valves. Drip is most efficient.
- Have wide paths between rows for access and orchard operations.
- Construct drainage channels where necessary to avoid waterlogging.
- Install windbreak trees around the orchard perimeter to protect from strong winds.
- Plan optimal sites for infrastructure like water storage tanks, packing shed, offices etc.
Planting Mango Tree Seedlings
- Prepare planting holes 60-90 cm wide x 60 cm deep.
- Part fill with topsoil, compost and a phosphate fertilizer mix.
- Plant the grafted seedlings properly upright.
- Backfill the hole with soil pressing firmly around the base.
- Stake the young trees for support and protect from livestock.
- Water seedlings regularly for healthy establishment.
Orchard Care and Management
Proper agronomic practices are vital for mango trees to thrive and bear optimal fruit:
- Irrigate trees regularly to prevent moisture stress. Increase watering in peak dry seasons.
- Young mangoes require more frequent watering, at least twice per week.
- Use drip irrigation or micro sprinklers for water efficiency.
- Avoid excessive irrigation that causes waterlogging.
- Weed frequently, especially when trees are young. Competeing weeds impair growth.
- Mulch basins around trees to suppress weeds and retain moisture.
- Slash weeds using cutlasses, hoes and mechanical weeders.
- Apply recommended herbicides carefully during dry seasons.
- Conduct soil tests to determine fertilizer requirements.
- Apply fertilizer at the start of rains and 6-8 weeks later.
- Use both organic manure and NPK/macro fertilizers.
- Spread fertilizer evenly under the drip line and incorporate into soil.
- Prune annually after harvest to shape trees and improve productivity.
- Remove dead, diseased and unproductive branches.
- Control height for ease of picking fruit.
- Retain healthy shoots with wide angles for better flowering and fruiting.
Pest and disease control
- Scout regularly and take prompt control measures when pests or diseases are detected.
- Common mango pests include fruit flies, mealy bugs, mites etc. Diseases include anthracnose, powdery mildew etc.
- Apply recommended chemical pesticides or botanical extracts. Maintain spray schedules.
- Remove and destroy fallen/infected mangoes and prunings to minimize disease.
- Proper orchard sanitation and drainage also helps reduce pest and disease pressure.
Mango Fruit Care and Harvesting
Maximizing mango fruit yields and quality requires:
- Thin excess fruit bunches around 60-90 days after flowering to improve fruit size.
- Bag or net fruit to protect from pests, birds and bats. Do when fruits are marble-sized.
- Harvest mangoes once fully mature based on indicators like size, colour, blush etc.
- Use secateurs or pruning shears on short poles to cut fruit stalks cleanly without damage.
- Handle harvested mangoes with care to avoid bruising. Use padded crates or baskets.
- Transport harvested fruits promptly to the packhouse. Don’t allow to sit in the sun.
Post-Harvest Handling and Storage
To maximize shelf-life and quality of harvested mangoes:
- Grade mangoes based on export, supermarket or wholesale specifications.
- Rapidly cool mangoes to storage temperatures below 13°C. This slows ripening.
- Use cold storage facilities where available. Alternatives like evaporative cooling also help.
- Maintain high humidity of 85-95% for storage.
- Disinfect and sanitize storage crates, rooms etc to prevent disease infection.
- Use modified atmosphere storage if possible – altered O2 and CO2 levels slow ripening.
- Market mangoes quickly. Shelf-life is 2-3 weeks even with best storage conditions.
Mango Processing and Value Addition
Beyond fresh sales, mango processing allows additional revenue streams:
- Puree – for confectionery, ice cream, baby food, juices etc.
- Slices, cubes and pulps – for foodservice industry and retail packs.
- Dried mango slices and powders – nutritious preserved products.
- Nectars, juices and beverages – attractive high-value products.
- Jam, jelly, leather – popular processed items.
- Invest in processing equipment, packaging, quality certifications etc.
- Develop specialized skills like processing, preservation, quality control.
- Market value-added products smartly leveraging branding and retail packaging.
Marketing and Sales Channels
Some recommended marketing approaches include:
- Wholesale markets – for bulk sale to traders, supermarket chains, exporters etc.
- Farm gate sales – sell direct to consumers from orchard.
- Online sales platforms – apps like Farmcrowdy allow access to wider markets.
- Retail stores – supply major stores or own retail/cafe outlets.
- Farmer coops – jointly package and market produce for greater bargaining power.
- Exports – tap into growing global demand once size, quality and phytosanitary standards are met.
- Forward contracts – arrange supply schedules and prices with buyers upfront.
A mix of multiple channels spreads risk and diversifies sales opportunities.
Financial Planning and Financing
- Develop a solid business plan with market research insights, financial projections etc. This is key for securing finance.
- Approach banks and microfinance institutions for loans if you lack sufficient capital. Offer assets as collateral.
- Venture capital investors may provide financing in exchange for equity.
- Apply for Government agriculture grants and subsidized loans where available.
- Consider equipment leasing to conserve capital.
- Reinvest profits wisely for farm expansion and mechanization.
Adequate financing is essential for establishing and developing the orchard until it matures and generates revenues. Pursue multiple options.
To operate legally, fulfill all licensing, permitting and compliance requirements:
- Register business name and obtain operational licenses from state and local government agencies.
- Comply with land ownership, environmental and labor regulations.
- Obtain phytosanitary certification from NPPO for exporting mangoes.
- Get relevant quality certifications based on target markets.
- Implement food safety program, monitoring and audits for export markets.
- Develop product traceability systems right from the orchard. This is expected for export.
Key Success Factors
In summary, essential factors for mango farming success in Nigeria include:
- Selecting suitable varieties adapted for local climate and soils.
- Access to adequate land, finance and other resources.
- Strategic orchard location with irrigation, soil fertility, weather etc optimal for mangoes.
- Efficient orchard layout, spacing, planning and infrastructure.
- Timely and consistent application of recommended agronomic practices – irrigation, fertilization, pest control etc.
- Focus on quality right from orchard practices through post harvest handling. This allows access to premium prices domestically and globally.
- Developing multiple reliable marketing and sales channels for assured demand throughput season after season.
- Financial discipline and relentless commitment to continuously improve orchard productivity and fruit quality.
With Nigeria’s suitable climate, available land and growing mango demand, commercial mango farming presents major opportunities. By learning essential practices and pursuing the venture professionally with dedication, new mango producers can develop highly rewarding and profitable orchards over time. This guide provides novice mango farmers with a strong foundation to successfully start and run an orchard in Nigeria.