Maize farming is the process of cultivation that produces maize grains. Maize is one of the popular food crops in Nigeria that can be planted and harvested at any time of the year. Our focus will be on the Maize farming business and the steps to start maize farming.
Maize is a popular cereal crop and a source of one of the most essential staple food in Nigeria. Maize farming is one of the most profitable and among the 8 lucrative agricultural and farming business ideas in Nigeria for entrepreneurs.
In the Institute of Tropical Agriculture (ITA) in 2017 valued Nigeria’s Maize industry was valued to be $6bn which represents #2.5 trillion. The local production of Maize only meets 72% of the total annual demand for Maize as stated by the Federal Ministry Of Agriculture.
The demand for Maize in Nigeria is around 15 metric tons while the country produces 10.5 metric tons. This calculation shows that there are still more untapped opportunities needed for more entrepreneurs that are interested in maize farming to join the moving train.
Maize can serve both domestic and industrial use. Most agro-allied companies can use Maize in brewing, flour milling, animal feed production, bread making, manufacturing and confectionery. It is a source of protein, Vitamin B, Carbohydrates and other minerals. Maize is used as raw material for some manufacturing companies in Nigeria like Kellogg’s, and Nestle and also in breweries for beer production.
You can start up your Maize farming business with a little capital and still make enormous profits. Using the hybrid specie of Maize with a mechanized system of Maize farming business can give you a yield of up to 10.2 tonnes per hectare while using the manual system can give you up to 2.1 tonnes of Maize(corn) per
Reasons Why Maize Yields May Be Low In Maize Farming Business
The following are some of the reasons why maize yields may be low in the maize farming business.
The variety of maize used for planting
There are different varieties of maize seeds for planting. the major types are grouped into two. The open-pollinated maize and the hybrid maize. Example of these varieties of maize is Deklb 777 &234 F1 (White), Dekalb 920 F1 (Yellow), Honey King F1, Sugar King F1, Maize Hybrid Seeds variety (SC 510), Golden Bantam etc. Seeds with improved varieties that can resist drought and Striga can adapt to your zone, and seeds with high yield potential should be planted. it is recommended that certified and approved seeds should be bought from seeds companies, from their recognised associations. or even their agents. It is also advised that leftover seeds from the previous year’s harvest should not be used for planting.
Leaf Eating Caterpillar Insecta(Lepidoptera)
Grasshoppers and Faw Army Worm (FAW) are the most common leaf-eating pests that attack maize. The larva of FAW is very destructive and can destroy other crops but maize is the most vulnerable. From research, about 17.7 million tonnes of maize are lost due to attacks from FAW in many African countries yearly. Some of the states in Nigeria that are mostly affected by FAW are Abuja, Oyo and Ogun states. FAW can be prevented using different combinations of chemical formulations.
Leaf-eating caterpillars are one of the problems faced by farmers who engage in the maize farming business. How to prevent this insect from damaging your maize crops has been listed below:
- Ensure you cultivate the land very well before planting. This process will expose and kill the pupae that exist in the soil and prevent your crops from being infested.
- Ensure you maintain hygiene, and proper spacing of your maize plants during planting and weed the farm as when due,
- Avoid water stress during the flowering stage and waterlogging on your maize farm.
- Set up light traps to kill the moths during the night.
- Install pheromone traps between 9 to 10 per acre to attract the male moths.
- Plant castor along the border and use it as a barrier crop or trap crop.
- Collect all the egg masses in the castor and even in the tomato and destroy them.
- Use your hand to pick larvae that have grown and kill them.
- Make sure you plant your maize with other crops in between like Cowpea, Onion, Maize, Coriander, and Cassava.
- Grow Basil in your maize farm so that it will act as a resistant crop.
- Release predators Chrysoperla, coccinellid beetles, dragonflies, robber flies, praying mantids, etc.
- Build bird perches numbering 20 pieces per acre to encourage predatory birds such as King crow, Common mynah, etc from attacking your crops.
- Pest attack on maize crops should be controlled by applying 1.68 kg active ingredient of Vetox® 85/ha. This means, 3 standard matchboxes filled to the level per 4.5 litres (1 gal.) of water. Two applications, the first at 2 weeks after planting, and the second 2 weeks after.
- Spray monocrotophos (Azodrin® or Nuvacron®) at the rate of 28 ml/10 litres (2 gals) of water when there is an attack.
Low Soil Fertility
Due to the increase in the population of people in Nigeria that has gone into agriculture. this puts much pressure on the land available for agriculture. Because these lands are regularly used, soil fertility and capacity will be reduced. It will further reduce some micronutrients like Zinc and Copper and other macronutrients like N, P, and K. Because of low soil fertility, maize farming cannot produce good yield without adequate application of fertilizers.
Treatment And Checking Viability Of Seeds
In the maize farming business, it is very important to test the viability of the maize seed you want to plant and also treat the seeds with appropriate chemicals to stimulate germination. If the seeds are not treated, they seeds will be attacked by birds, pests, and diseases. Some human activities on the farm before and after the seed germinates can also affect the seed if not well treated. The chemicals can be pink, green, and red. Seeds that are up to 5kg in size will need up to 10g pack of the chemical powder used for treatment. While treating the seeds with the powder chemicals, ensure that the seeds are well coated with powder chemicals. Note that hybrid maize seeds are treated already and will save you the stress of treatment.
Fertilizers are applied based on the soil nutrient capacity. You can apply 50kg single super phosphate, 50kg nutrient of potash and 100kg N but must be split while applying it. For the first split, apply 6bags (ie 300kg) of NPK at 25:10:10/ha between 1 to 6 days after planting. The second split which is 2bags of urea (ie 100kg) should be applied within 4 weeks after planting. Always ensure that the maize farm is weeded before the application of any split. The fertilizer should be applied 7cm away from the maize plant and covered, Fertilizers should not be left on the surface of the soil.
It is better to treat seeds before planting to avoid any form of grain or soil-borne diseases.
Maize should be planted early during the planting season to avoid or reduce disease attacks. Also, use the recommended known varieties of seeds that can resist diseases.
How To Start Maize Farming Business
It is very easy to start a maize farming business in Nigeria. In case you are interested in going into the maize farming business, the following are the steps to do so.
Register Your Business
The first step to starting a business is to register it with the corporate affairs commission (CAC) This is an agency in charge of registering businesses in Nigeria. CAC can register your maize farming business as either a sole proprietor or a limited liability company. Whatever category you choose, it must be in line with the corporate goals and objectives of your business.
Pick a unique name you want your business to be known with, and get other necessary documents like a photocopy of your Identity Card,(ID) and other documents ready. Log into the official website of CAC here and start the process. You can also use consultants in business name registration.
With the registered business name and certificate, you can open a corporate account with any bank of your choice to make your financial transactions with your clients easy.
It is easier to access loans from the bank and other support opportunities when you have a
registered business name.
Develop A Business Plan
It is very important to develop and write down a business plan before you start the business. A business plan for a rice farming business will show the mission, vision, aims and objectives of the business.
A good business plan should contain everything about the business. The overview, operational cost, market analysis, SWOT analysis and financial projections for the first five years of its operations. With your business plan, it is easier to have access to bank loans, government grants and other funds that are strategically meant for farmers.
There are so many funds available to those that are in agribusiness and it is very easy to get funding when you are in the agricultural sector. The Nigerian government gives loans to farmers nationwide through the Bank Of Agriculture (BOA). The Central Bank OF Nigeria has an anchor borrowers scheme that releases funds to farmers through cooperatives and registered companies.
A Group of farmers in the same line of business as those in the rice farming business can come together, and form a cooperative union. They can approach some investors to partner in their business.
Another source of raising funds for a rice farming business is to sell some assets to raise funds or use cashcrowding to raise funds for your business.
Chose A Land
Maize can be grown on any type of soil, but to get the best results, it is better to cultivate maize in loamy soil, savanna and forest regions. Good soil for maize farming should have good water retention capacity and be rich in soil organic nutrients.
Maize can grow well and do well under a temperature of 26 to 30°C with rainfall of between 75 to 150cm per year. Avoid land that is full of trees, Ant hills and shaded regions because it is not good for the maize farming business and will not give you a good yield. Any clay soil, muddy or even compacted soil is not good for maize because it cannot do well in a waterlogged area and can react to the salinity of the soil.
Land Clearing And Preparation
After choosing the land, the next step in the rice farming business is to clear and prepare the land for maize planting. The Savanna region will not require the same level of land preparation as will be obtainable in forest zones, The land must be cleared before the rain starts in the Guinea grasslands.
There are different ways to prepare the land for farming. It can be done manually using hoes and knives, mechanically which involves the use of machines to till the land or using chemicals. Whatever way that is chosen, the most important thing to note is that weeds and the remains of crops from the last planting season
must be removed from the land.
The soil should be tilled in a way that the topsoil is not displaced. Minimum cultivation is a technique that will help in maintaining the high fertility of the soil. Tilth the soil a bit to make it loose for good for planting. The level of tillage on the land does not affect the yield of the maize. Make ridges 75 centimetres wide for planting your maize to ensure maximum output. Plant your maize immediately after land preparations so that the maize will germinate before the weeds start growing.
Select The Best Variety Of Maize Seed
There are so many varieties of maize seeds. This includes flour corn, sweet corn, Hopi maize, waxy corn etc. The most popular type of maize found in Nigeria is white and yellow maize.
Plant The Seed
The two major planting seasons for maize are the early season and the late season. The early season starts in March/ April while the late season starts around August. If you have farmland in the forest zone, it is better to plant your maize between March and April or immediately after the rainfall becomes steady. If the land is in the Savannah zone, it is better planted as soon as the rainfall becomes steady in April. For those in the Southern Guinea Savannah zones, it is best to plant between May and June depending on the level of rainfall.
List Of Maize Varieties For Early Planting
- Yellow Hybrid Varieties- 8425-8; 8329-15.
- Yellow Open-Pollinated Varieties – Western Yellow 1: TZSR-Y-1 (Streak Resistant), Western Yellow 1: TZSR-Y-1 (Streak Resistant).
- White hybrids – 8321-18; 9022-19; (Striga Resistant).
- White Open-Pollinated Varieties – TZPB (FARZ 27); TZB (FARZ 34)
List Of Maize Varieties For Late Planting
- Popcorn e.g White Pop, Yellow composite.
- Yellow Open-Pollinated Varieties e.g Tzesr-y, Dmr-esry.
- White-open pollinated varieties e.g TZESR-W, DMR-ESRW.
How To Plant Maize
Maize seed can be planted manually using hand and hoe, mechanically using machines like a rototiller. Till the soil to a depth of 6inches, make mounds or ridges, insert four kernels of corn facing upwards in one mound and close loosely with soil and continue the process. If you are using machines, the debt should not be more than 2inches or 5cm.
One of the challenges in maize farming is that it is prone to pests and diseases which can cause so much damage to the plants or loss of crops. The most common weeds and diseases that can infest maize farms are leaf blight, rust, ear rots, Downey mildew, Striga, leaf spots, maize streak virus and stalk. Striga which is commonly called witchweed is very a dangerous weed and it is common in the Savannah area of Nigeria.
You can weed your maize farm up to 3 or 4 times at intervals with your hoe or chemical with specified herbicides to avoid weed from affecting your yield. You can also use pesticides or herbicides or any other chemical that is appropriate like Nitrogen after two weeks of planting and at selected intervals.
Nitrogen is an integral element of protein and an integral component of other compounds essential for plant growth process which includes chlorophyll and enzymatic process. Adding all of these will increase the fertility level of the soil thereby increasing the yield.
It takes between 2 to 5 months after planting, to wait for maize to mature depending on the weather. Once the ears turn dark green, silk turns brown and the kernels become soft and plump, the corn can be harvested. Harvesting of corn can be done manually or mechanically depending on the size of the maize farm.
Harvesting manually requires you to pull the ears from the stalk of the maize plant by hand. Alternatively, machines like corn pickers or corn shellers can be used to harvest corn. The machines can be used to harvest corn especially when it is dry. It shucks ears and preclean the corn kernels as well.
Post-Harvest And Marketing The Product
The activities that follow after harvesting maize are drying, shelling, threshing, storage and advertising. Post-harvest management of maize can be divided into four stages as shown below s.
The farm gate activities are the first stage where you de-sheat and pack mature maize cobs together.
The second stage involves transporting the cobs from the farmland to where they will be stored safely.
The third stage involves drying and grading cobs, shelling and drying grains, winnowing the grains, applying insecticides, and packing grains at the household level
The fourth stage is how to store the maize and it involves storing the grains safe so that they can be used later.
Having a product is one thing and knowing how to market and sell your products is another thing. There is a need to create awareness especially if you know you have big farmland.
You can write a good business proposal to some manufacturing companies that use maize as their raw material. In your proposal, state what they can gain if you become their regular supplier.
Build your website to ensure it optimizes for search engines. Use the website to register your presence online. Design fliers, business logos, and cards and distribute them to people or your targeted group.
You can also use social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp to post your daily activities on the farm. This will help create awareness and get more audience and point of sale once your crop is ready.
Another avenue to sell your product is by selling it to roadside roasters, local traders or even to individuals for consumption in their homes.
From this article, you will find out that the maize farming business does not require huge capital or serious training to start. Follow the steps highlighted above and you will achieve success in your maize farming business.