Pepper is a spicy vegetable used all over the globe. For now Nigeria is the leading country as far as pepper is concerned in Africa followed by Ghana as China is the world leading producers. It was a popular believe that pepper can only do well in the North because they cultivate pepper in large quantities.Pepper farming is another area agribusiness minded persons should take a look at.
In this era of vertical farming pepper can be grown anywhere in Nigeria; in the North, south west, South east, South south, North central etc. The idea of vertical farming is making farming easy and possible not minding the location and land availability. Pepper is said to originate from Central America.
Types Of Pepper
There are many kinds of pepper; they are grown according to regions and climatic conditions.
In Nigeria we have the commonest pepper atarodo, most people considers the smaller ones to the bigger ones due to its hotter nature.
This is the one most farmers are mostly cultivating now because of its price value. Sweet pepper is costlier than other peppers in the market. It is also known as Bell pepper.
Sweet pepper is mainly used for colouring of food especially fried rice and also mostly used in salad ingredients and in decoration of foods.
This variety of pepper is believed to be the hottest pepper according to the New Mexico State University’s Chili Pepper Institute which identified the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion as the hottest chili pepper in the world as of February 2012. This pepper is commonly found in the Nigerian markets and can be exported for hard currency. The real money in pepper business is in the export. If you can produce enough quantity of this pepper this year, you are sure to make enough dollars exporting it to Europe and America.
others are Atawere (bird pepper) sombo (red pepper) tatashi.
After acquiring a land for this purpose clear the land and make beds on it threat the soil with insecticides in other to kill any insect that may pose a challenge to the crop. Pour organic manure which could be pig, cow or poultry dung on the bed. The distance of the bed should be 1m long and the row 1m as well. Pepper generally perform well in a sandy loamy soil rich in organic matters
It is advisable to use Hybrid seeds because they are already treated against diseases. And it takes few months before they are matured for harvest.
Get a nursery tray filled it up with top soil mixed with compose. Spread the pepper on top and then mulch the tray. If you don’t have nursery trays you can use plastic rubbers or cement bags with wide mouth.
Depending on the sizes and the species of pepper planted, spacing should be 12-18 inches apart; beds should be raised to about 10 inches high.
Water the beds two to three days before transplanting into it. Do your transplanting in the evenings. Your beds should be close to the nursery so as to save the life of the pepper seedlings. The seedlings should be transplanted to the farm 8-10 weeks after planting in nursery.
Most pepper seeds sprout in about 7 days at a temperature of 70-80 degrees F. This depends on the variety planted. Germination for hot peppers can be delayed, to hasten it cover the nursery with a transparent material and carefully remove it when the seed starts sprouting.
A pepper plant consumes a lot of water, from germination to harvest. Water should be applied moderately. Waterlog soil is not good for pepper cultivation that is why a well drain loamy sandy soil is needed for the planting. So that it can hold enough moisture to keep the crops growing. The organic manure added to the soil will help in retaining moisture. Use white substance for mulching to prevent too much water from evaporating during the day.
During transplanting you can use dry poultry waste (rich in Nitrogen), wood such as sawdust is rich in potassium. You can also use bone meal get it from abattoir, it is rich in phosphorus. Apply more manure during blossoming and fruiting prior to harvesting. This will make the plant to produce well. For a person that wants to use inorganic fertilizers you can apply NPK 15-15-15 or buy liquid fertilizers from GNLD.
Pepper plants are light feeders it is therefore not good to apply too much fertilizer because it will make the plant to develop hush foliage instead of fruiting
Weeding should be done twice before harvesting. Do not allow weeds in your farm they carry pests and diseases. They can spread fungi and virus to healthy pepper plants close to them.
It is very important to stake pepper plant because they increase in weight as they develop. In order to prevent damages, trellis the pepper plant to a bamboo wood or any other wood you can find around you.
Do not use wire or heavy rope it can chop the pepper plant gradually until it chokes them off or snap the stems.
Insects And Disease Control
Though it is advisable to buy pepper seeds that are resistant to diseases, at the same time find out diseases that commonly affect similar crops in the area. Example of such crops are tomatoes, garden egg etc. Use organic pesticides e.g. pestomax if there is any need. Don’t work in the farm after the rains as pathogens can easily be carried about in a wait body. Most people are doing pepper farming in a green house which is very good.
Neem oil can be used to eliminate or prevent pest.
Mulching In Pepper Farming
It is very important to mulch an existing farm taking into consideratoins the importance of mulching
Pepper is harvested before they are ripe because they can continue ripening after harvest if they were matured at the point of harvest. For commercial purposes it is advisable that you continue harvesting because the more you harvest pepper before maturity the more they keep fruiting. Pepper fruits that are fully ripen enhances flavour.
Hot pepper takes about 150 days for maturity depending on the varieties, the number of days start from the time of transplant.