In Nigeria, very few farmers seem to understand the significance of having to keep bees in their orchard farms. But experts have said farmers could make huge money if they also keep bees in their farms. The reason is simple: bees pollinate the fruits flowers, which enable the plants to produce more fruits. In other words the bees will help increase the amount of fruits your trees can produce. A farmer who wants to start an orchard farm should know that the investment needs more time and money. However, the length of time needed to start producing fruits has been reduced significantly these days because of the development of new, improved varieties and/or technology of fruit trees particularly oranges, guava, mangoes, cashew etc, which takes shorter time to start producing.

To start, you must make research into what fruit trees will do better in your soil and by extension, location. The farm should begin by selecting good varieties of orchard trees that can produce the best quality that juice companies can buy easily. You should plant the best species having in mind the market, that is, the kind of companies you want to sell your fruits to.  The farmer should find out who the buyers are and what they want because most of the time juice companies complain of the quality of fruits produced in the country. Having a good orchard farm can change your financial status for many years. While making decision on what to plant, consider the harvest season – early, mid, or late season – so that your produce supply can take advantage of early or late marketing windows. Always keep this in mind whenever you want to set up orchard farms: one, can the fruits adapt to the region? Will the temperature enhance good growth of the plants? Does your land have the requirements for soil fertility or pH? Other factors include, requirement for irrigation or protection from water-logging, resistance to diseases and pests, nutritional value, storage requirements and shelf life are basic requirements that could define your market.

Audu Ogbeh, is a fruits farmer and Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. In a recent interview with Daily Trust in Abuja he said farmers who have orchards should take advantage to keep bees. The minister, who has 14,000 cashew trees and hundreds of bee-hives in Benue State, said keeping bees in a fruits farm is a perfect combination that increases yields of the fruits, honey and the farmer’s incomes. How the bees achieve this is simple: bees pollinate flowers – they transfer the pollen made by one plant’s flowers to flowers of other plants. In the process of collecting the pollen they take back to their hives from one flower to another, some pollen are in fact, accidentally dropped on another flower – the result is seed or fruits formation. This enables the fruit trees to produce more, while the bees also produce more quality honey. Gideon Dagunduro who is a bee farmer with large numbers of bee-hives in Abuja and Ilorin said what the bee farmer needs in his fruits farm is water where the bees can access it, adding that the flowers from the fruit trees is enough to feed their hives. The demand for good natural honey is huge in Nigeria and globally. As the minister of agriculture said, “what we get here as imported honey are just syrups.” The market potential is something the fruits farmers and others need to take advantage of.

Source: Daily Trust

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