Bitter leaf is a vegetable that is well loved by Africans, its botanical name is Vernonia amygdalina. there are many reasons to consider bitter leaf farming. Many people are not looking at this area of farming business, the concentration is on Ugu farming, water leaf, spinach etc. The plant is very medicinal, that is why its economic value is priced higher than most vegetables.You can go into commercial bitter leaf farming for local consumption and exportation. i read a story of a lady that makes #40,000 weekly from washing and selling of bitter leaf. And upgraded to having bitter leaf farm. You can imagine how much she earns now that she is not buying from other farmers but processing her own plant.
Venonia Amygdalina is constantly exported outside Nigeria where they are processed into green tea, supplements for hypertension, cancer, high sugar, weight loss tea etc. To set up bitter leaf farm is not difficult, you can line up the stems in your farm as a demarcation (boundary), fence etc and make money from it. Bitter leaf plant are very resilient, they can withstand adverse conditions.
Below are the steps for growing bitter leaf
Clear the land, remove debris and apply manure to the soil. Bitter leaf plant will do well in sandy-loam soil rich in organic matter.
Bitter leaf can be propagated with parent stem or from seeds. Getting the seed may not be easy but parent stem can easily be gotten from farmers. The stem establishes faster than seeds. When there is enough manure and moisture you will start harvesting after 3 months.
It is the leaves that is needed the most so apply manure that is high in nitrogen example chicken dung. Also apply compost manure, such as; grasses, leaves etc.
Bitter leaf plant are very resilient and can withstand lack of water for a while but to allow for healthy growth, apply water when there is drought. However, during rainy season you don’t need to water them. If you are going into commercial bitter leaf farming you have to make provision for irrigation so you can have the leaves to sell all year round.
Weeding can be done manually, bitter leaf plant somehow shades its environment, this way the weeds are not usually much. To control it or reduce their emergence, apply compost in the whole of the farm or spread dung.
Inter planting in Bitter leaf Farming
You can plant other vegetables in bitter leaf farm, pepper, okra, yam etc.
Profit in Bitter leaf Farming
This farming business idea is very profitable whether you are selling locally to traders or exporting or processing them by yourself. Wash bitter leaves that used to be #50 for small quantity is now #100 in Abuja. You can imagine how much profit you will make from just one shrub of bitter leaf.
Bitter leaf Variety
There are many varieties of bitter leaf, some are very bitter, it takes a long time to wash the bitterness away. Another variety is called white bitter leaf, it is believed that this type is not bitter, you add it to soup without going through the rigorous of washing too. We have Bitter leaf plant that grows very tall but we now have improved variety that are short with broad leaves.
Health Benefits of Bitter leaf
- It helps fight free radicals
- cures insomnia
- helps pregnant and lactating mothers
- address memory loss
- cure stomach ache
- increase uterine contraction and safe delivery
- bitter leaf helps in cleaning vital organs of the body such as; kidney, liver etc
- improve fertility
Bitter leaf farming is another way of making cool money from farming. It is one farming idea that has less competitors. Bitter leaf has good profit especially if you are exporting them.