How to Start Rubber Farming Business in Nigeria and Africa in 2021


Alt: = "photo showing rubber plantation"

Table of contents 

  • Prospects of rubber farming in Nigeria and Africa 
  • Rubber varieties 
  • How to plant rubber 
  • Rubber marketing 
  • Conclusion 

Prospect of rubber farming in Nigeria and Africa

Rubber byproducts are the most sort after agricultural product after food. Although, there is synthetic rubber, natural rubber is used in making many human essentials especially in the automobile, aviation, health education  industries. Some of these items include tyres, tubes and, break pad, rubber bands, personal protective equipment (hand gloves, condoms, safety boot, overall) etc.

Liberia, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Ghana, Cameron, Mali, Central African Republic, South Africa, Sierra Leone are the major natural rubber latex producing countries in Africa

Liberia has the world  largest single rubber estate. Ivory Coast in recent times has increased its rubber production thereby ranking the fourth largest rubber producing country in the world after Indonesia, Malaysia and India.

Sierra Leone and China’s Hainan Natural Rubber Industry Group signed a 50 years deal giving the company right to use 100,000 hectares of land for rubber with yearly output of 180,000 tons. To expand the natural rubber production industry in Sierra Leone, there is need for more investments especially by small and medium enterprises.

According to report by The Nation Newspaper, at the peak of rubber production in Nigeria, there were about 54 rubber producing companies. But today, there are less than 20 companies in operation, the rest production are done by smallholder farmers. This has cut the total national output by 40‰ even when the natural rubber is increasingly in demand. Presently, Nigeria's natural rubber latex is supplied only to local industries due to low production capacity; the opportunities at the international market are yet to be harnessed. Experts say Nigeria national annual output has fallen from 130,000 metric tons to fluctuating between 55,000 - 60,000 metric tons. There is therefore need for increased investment in natural rubber farming in Nigeria. The natural rubber of Nigeria is sold for about $2,000 per ton in the export market, and Nigeria is losing well over $6 billion at the export market. Researches have also shown that return on investment in rubber farming in Nigeria is about 70%. In simple term, every N1 invested in rubber farming brings profit of about N0.7. Although, industry players say there can be higher rate of return, if there are more improved clones with modern rubber farming practices, market stability through more investment, training, deliberate policy, owing to the fact that rubber farming is a long term investment.

Rubber tree maturity is between 5 to 8 years before it can be tapped and its economic lifespan is between 20 to 30, depending on the variety. At the end of lifespan of rubber tree,  its log is used as timber for wood constructions 

Varieties of rubber species

There are many rubber seeds and clones varieties. The varieties listed below are the ones found in Africa, although most of them are imported. 

Hevea brasillensis

Indian rubber (Ficus elastical)

Indonesian clone 

Malaysian clone

Para rubber 

Taraxacum

Panama rubber (Castiolla elastica) 

Guayul (Parthenuim argenatum)

Cera rubber (manihat gloziovii)

Hevea brasillensis is the most recommended due to its high yields and ability to replenish its bark. 

How to Plant Rubber 

1. Site Selection and acquisition

The first thing to do when you want to start rubber farming is to select a suitable site with good soil and topography, and acquire such land. The site must be accessible and secure, fertile. It should be free from pests and disease pathogens. 

Natural rubber trees do well in the rain tropical forest region (East-West axis). In the case of Nigeria, the Southern region of the country. Rubber also grow in the middle belt, otherwise known as North Central of Nigeria (i.e Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Niger, Taraba, and Kaduna States). 

It requires annual rainfall between 200cm – 230cm. Region with high incidence of drought is not suitable for rubber as it will affect its latex yield.

Soil type: rubber grows well on well drained  loamy-clay or loamy soil with 4.5 – 6 moderate pH level.

To get right information on average rainfall in certain locations and soil testing, contact the appropriate agencies in your country. For Nigeria, contact Nigeria Metrological Agency, NiMet for information on climate, and National Land Development Authority, NALDA for soil testing and for land allocation.

2. Land preparation

Selected field should be cleared, and trees on it cut. Plough to a depth of 15cm and harrowed to root out perennial weeds and break heavy clods. This is followed by leveling of land to a gentle slope of 3% provided in one direction to facilitate irrigation as well as drainage for excess water during rains, although this is not compulsory, it depends on the location of the site.

Field/farm measurement: Field measurement is very important because its accuracy guides a farmer to know his farm size for vital decision making on farm operations including the right amount of inputs needed and the expected outputs from the farm. The use of Geographical Positioning System, GPS hands receiver has simplified the rigor in farm measurement. Land area can easily be measured with the use of GPS.

Field layouts: After proper field preparation, the next operation is field layout. The field should be divided into convenient blocks, farm roads separating the blocks.

Panting holes/pits: 1m x 1m x 1m holes are dog two weeks before planting so that disease pathogens in the soil see destroyed by sunlight.  Put the removed soil in separate piles, one pile for topsoil and a separate pile for the subsoil and from the pit.  The upper soil mixture is filled first followed by the lower soil mixture, when you want to cover the pit. 

3. Sourcing for seedlings

Rubber seeds and clones can be sourced from Rubber Research Institutes, RRI, and other government approved tree crops seeds production and distribution agencies and private companies.

In Nigeria, rubber clones can be gotten from Rubber Research Institute of Nigeria, and tree crops development and distribution agencies and crops seed companies. Clink here to access sources of crops seeds and seedlings in Nigeria.

4. Planting

Planting Date: Planting is usually done May – July when the rain is  established. It’s important to plant during the peak of the rains so that the young trees  will be supplied with enough water in low temperature to survive before the dry or drought season sets in.

Spacing: In rubber tree planting, spacing is usually 4.9m x 4.9m. 400 rubber seedlings/ clones are planted per hectare.

Intercropping

It’s recommended to grow cover crops to prevent or reduce incidence of erosion, maintain the temperature at average, and conserve soil moisture and improve soil fertility. Cover crops help in controlling weeds, they also serve as source of residual income for the farmer to maintain the plantation. As the earliest expected date of maturity of rubber tree is 5 years, the farmer, therefore, would need another source of earning for his upkeep and to cover the operating costs of his farm. Cereal, vegetables and some perennial crops, which have short maturity date should be planted in mixed and rotated system.

5. Weed Management 

Weed the plantation by hoeing or slashing, or by applying herbicides. Herbicides is more economical. I recommend hoeing only when other crops (maize and vegetables) are planted in the plantation. 

Plant other crops in the plantation, it helps to control the weed, and brings residual income.

Weed the rubber plantation in 2 months interval in the first year when the rubber trees are still small, weed in 4 months interval in the subsequent years when the rubber branches and leaves won’t allow for much weed to grow in the plantation. 

6. Integrated soil fertilizer management

You can provide organic manure to the rubber by heaping the weed hay or animal dungs on the plantain

If you decide to use inorganic fertilizer,  apply NPK 15:15:15  twice a year. Use of inorganic fertilizer makes for optimal yield but it affects the shelf life of the yields.

7     Pest and Disease Control

There are pest and disease that attack rubber that if not controlled can destroy your investment. The table below shows some common pests and diseases of rubber and necessary control measures.

Alt: = "tables of list of rubber pests, diseases and their symptoms,  control measures"

8     Harvesting 

Rubber tree maturity is between 5 – 8 years, depending on variety. These when harvesting will commence, and will last up to 20 to 30 years, which is the rubber tree lifespan interval. 

Harvesting of rubber latex (fluid) is done by tapping. Rubber is tapped early in the morning between 6am to 7am.  The fluid flows well and faster during the cool weather. Drought affects its yield at it does not allow it to flow well. Rubbers tapped in 3 days interval for 6 consecutive months, and it’s allowed to replenish its bark and fluid before tapping is resumed. Rubber tree shades off leaves  during the winter /harmattan months of December and January, and begins to get new leaves. At this season the yield is reduced, you therefore need to give it time to replenish. 

9     Processing

After rubber is tapped and latex collected, the next stage is processing. But as beginner who may have financial constraints to necessary equipment and lacks processing expertise, you can market the raw natural rubber latex without first processing it. 

10.    Marketing

This is the final activity in rubber farming and indeed agriculture. It’s is very crucial because it determines the success or otherwise of farming. One thing is to produce, another is to get it into the hands of consumers in exchange for money.

Natural rubber latex can be marketed both in the domestic and international markets. To sell at the domestic market, you  can sell to off takers, rubber processing companies, if you do not process by yourself,  and to factories that use natural rubber latex as raw material.  You can sell at the international market through export. You can leverage on globalization in agricultural marketing. Selling at the international market will earn you more money but you need to produce on larger quantities so as to reduce costs of marketing. Whether it the local or international markets, there are many buyers looking for the product. The Nigerian and African buyers alone need more rubber fluid (latex)  than what is produced locally. So you will not find it difficult to sell. In other words, buyers will be looking for you. 

A ton of rubber latex is about $2,000, the processed rubber is as high as $6,000.

Rubber farming profit margin about 0.7. 

Conclusion

There you have it. But before go ahead to start rubber farming in Nigeria or in any other country in Africa you need to know the solutions to problems of rubber farming in Nigeria which some of them are common to Africa so that you will be well prepared to make success in rubber farming in Nigeria and Africa.




Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post