By Yemi Akintomide
Spices are a common ingredient in many dishes across Nigeria and beyond. We love them for the rich flavour, colour and taste they give our food. They play such an important role in our daily lives that it’s difficult to imagine our world without spices. Spices are consumed daily by almost the whole Nigerian population. This means it is a good business to venture into, with good spice branding and packaging, you will add value to society, which will, in turn, take you to millionaire status.
Spices include but are not limited to curry, thyme, crayfish, pepper and so on. The production of spices is one simple task that any ambitious aspiring Agribusiness entrepreneur can start and grow up. This means you do not need any technicalities to start the production and marketing of spices.
What exactly are spices?
Spices are dried parts of plants that usually have strong and special smells/flavours. They can come from different parts of a plant including the seeds, fruit, roots, bark, stems, rhizomes or flowers (like saffron), such as pepper, ginger, uda, dawada, ose Nsukka, garlic, uziza (leave or seed), shallot, ogiri, okpeye, iru, dry or powdered onions, turmeric, cloves etc.
Opportunities in the spice business
There are different opportunities in the spice business in Nigeria. Let’s look at the broad areas through which entrepreneurs can enter the spice business.
- Cultivation: Most of the world’s spices are grown in tropical regions of the world where sunlight and rainfall are abundant all year round. Countries like Ethiopia, Madagascar and Tanzania earn significant foreign exchange earnings by exporting spices and herbs to Europe and The United States.
Most spices are easy to cultivate and usually don’t require a lot of land, advanced technology or machines. However, to enjoy commercial success, you may need to acquire a sizeable piece of land for cultivation. Depending on the type of spice, the farming techniques and requirements may differ. Whether you plan to focus on cultivating foreign or local spices, the demand for these commodities will make such a venture worthwhile.
- Trading & Processing: If you don’t have the land, skill or time to cultivate spices, you could buy the fresh and half-processed spices from farmers and sell them to processing facilities or process them yourself for export and for the local market. When spices are processed (usually dried), they last longer and retain their value. As a result, most spices can be stored for longer periods without any need for advanced or expensive storage facilities.
- Blending/Branding: If you’re creative, you could blend (put together) a number of spices that could become your own branded recipe. Look in your kitchen and you’ll likely find some of these ‘ordinary’ spices that have been branded in attractive packaging and sold under popular brand names.
The beautiful thing about brand names is that you earn the right to charge customers more for the same product. Are there local spices in your area that are sold ‘naked’ in the open market? This is an opportunity to make money and add value to our economy. Package the spices in an attractive bottle, sachet or anything that works for you. Give your product a name to set it apart from the ‘ordinary’ and ‘naked’ spices in the open market. The best part is, you will be creating a recognisable product locally and internationally (that’s if you plan to export) and of course, you can sell at a higher price.
How to go about the production of spices
Here you will be dealing directly with farmers or local dealers, you get these spices in raw form from them like curry leaves, ginger, thyme leaves, dried pepper, uda, dawada, ose Nsukka, garlic, uziza (leave or seed), shallot, ogiri, okpeye, iru, dry or powdered onions, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, turmeric, e.t.c. Mill them into powder either differently or in a mixed blend. The milling of these spices does not need any big machines either as you can outsource that to those local dealers if you don’t have them or cannot purchase them.
Another important fact you should take note of is quality control, here you will have to make sure your product is free from any form of dirt particles and edible for use. As time goes on, you will apply for the compulsory NAFDAC and SON numbers. However, this should not deter you from starting as you can start now for your product and brand to gain acceptance from the public.
Finally, the types of machinery you need which can be outsourced are:-
Powder packaging machine
The types of machinery are locally fabricated.