|Bundled Amaranth & Jute Mallow|
Organic production of indigenous vegetables is a promising and rewarding agribusiness in any ecosystem. Indigenous vegetables are local vegetables which have been an important nutrients sources (such as vitamins, fiber, dietary minerals and balanced amino acids) for people and of course one of the oldest food crops. Commonly grown indigenous vegetables are Amaranth, ‘Efo Tete’ in Yoruba (Amaranthus spp), Jute mallow, ‘Ewedu’ in Yoruba (Corchorus olitorius) and Celosia, ‘Efo Soko’ in Yoruba (Celosia orgentia). They are essentially cultivated for their leaves and seeds, the leaves are cooked to make soup or sauce. Jute mallow however forms a mucilaginous soup when cooked. These indigenous vegetables are very hardy and fast growing unlike exotic vegetables that are affected by many diseases.
Organic vegetables production is more profitable during dry season. It is not only profitable but sustainable. The seeds of these vegetables can be bought from local seeds vendors they are sold using indigenous measurement such as EMT (Evaporated Milk Tin) or Kongo (10 EMT) and Kilogram. During dry season, a bundle of indigenous vegetable can be sold between
N150 and N250. It is interesting to know that a Kongo of Jute mallow seeds when planted in good condition can yield between 100 – 150 bundles which will fetch you between N15,000 and N37,500 while a Kongo of Amaranth or Celosia can yield between 150 – 250 bundles which will fetch you between N22,500 and N62,500. More revenue can be generated if you plant more seeds.
Indigenous vegetables grow well in a drained soil with abundant moisture and organic matter. They have been successfully grown by smallholder farmers in swampy area having raised beds. They are mostly propagated by broadcasting on prepared flat beds; however they can also be transplanted using a spacing of 20cm by 20cm if they will be used for seeds production or harvested by ratooning (cutting). Ratooning induces lateral growth for successive harvesting. Before you plant the jute mallow seeds, ensure they are scarified (heat treated) to break the seeds dormancy.
Harvest is mostly done by uprooting. Exposing the indigenous vegetables most especially the Amaranth and Celosia to severe draught condition will induces early flowering and stops the production of leaves. They will be ready for harvest in 3 to 5 weeks.
Diseases hardly affect indigenous veggies but leaf-chewing insect like eating grasshoppers, caterpillars, armyworm, etc. can be a menace. Spraying of Neem oil will deter leaf-chewing insects and application of cured poultry manure will improve growth and performance. Weeding will equally control a number of pests. When using poultry manure, it is necessary to apply to the topsoil one week before broadcasting or transplanting. Use of chemicals is not recommended because of the risk of poisoning.