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Bitter Kola: The new green gold, by Agbaji Chinedu

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Bitter Kola: The new green gold, by Agbaji Chinedu

Today’s Agribusiness

Bitter kola farming will make you rich within a few years, because of its importance and high demand; it has become a very expensive and lucrative product. We have few/less number of bitter kola farmers. This is due to the fact that it teaks a longer period of time before harvesting the fruits maybe up to 7 years and above. But with improved research you can plant and harvest bitter kola between 3-5 years (32 months and above).

However cultivating bitter kola from seeds take many years to mature. Grafting of hybrid bitter kola will take a shorter time. Sometimes the pod can contain 2, 3 or even 1 seed; the number of seeds it contained determined the size of the bitter kola fruit.

Land Preparation

Cut grasses and tress mechanized the soil and make it arable for farming. The soil should be sandy-loam or heavy clayey loam rich in organic matter. PH of 5.0 (neutral) – 6.5 (alkaline) is ideal for bitter kola farming. The processes involved in the cultivation of bitter cola can be likened to that of farming Cherry, cashew nut farming e.t.c Bitter kola grows well in a wet soil and so require a temperature of 26°C-28°C. Note Land preparations don’t use Agrochemicals. In preparing your land, land conditioning protocol will boost your yield.

Cultivation

Bitter kola can be propagated through seed and grafting. Plant the seeds in situ by staking and the stump under shade for 3 years. The seeds should be sown quickly after harvest because it has short viability period.

Germination of fresh seed is about 50% after 3 months of planting. At 7-8 months all the viable seeds would have germinated. But in nursery the seeds continuous to germinate till 18 months with about 75% germination rate. Germination of the seed has been a major challenge to increase germination to about 90% and above use alcohol (ethanol solution) to soak the seeds for 1-2 hours before planting. Spacing is 10m×10m or 12m×12m.

Weeding

Weeding can be done manually or through the use of herbicides, but you are advised to do it manually if your focus is on export. If you allow weeds it will cause; stunted growth, pest and disease damages. Weeding can be done every 3 months in the first 4 years; this is if you are planting multiples of bitter kola seedlings.

Application Of Fertilizer

Like any other plant, bitter kola plantation should be fertilized every six months and also when the soil is deficient of any nutrient. Neem based organic manure is the best because it will take care of pest as well.

Pest/Disease Control

Insects attack pods so harvest them on time. Use pesticide to control. Use organic pesticide or neem oil ones in a while.

Harvesting

The fruits turn yellow or orange when ripe and mature for harvest. They will start falling on their own; it bursts and splits on the soil. You can as well harvest them yourself by plucking the pods. Grafted bitter kola can fruit at 10-12m height. Bitter kola is available from April-October harvest is every year after the first harvest.

Uses Of Bitter Kola

  • It has so many uses; socio-traditional believes people use it in marriages, welcoming of visitors etc.
  • The nut is used in the production of drinks (brewery), the more reason it is demanded in large quantities in international markets.
  • It’s also use in production of many drugs.

Conclusion

Start bitter kola farming today for a lifetime investment. Hybrid bitter kola will start fruiting in 3 years, not like the traditional seedlings that takes up to 8 to years. A four litter bucket of bitter kola is going for N14,000 presently by the end of the year it sales for N25,000. This is one the best economic trees you can invest in and assured of return on investment.

Agbaji Chinedu writes from Abuja and can be reached via learnder@gmail.com, 08035004617.

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