In just half a year, the value of hibiscus flowers in Nigeria has skyrocketed by over 70%, putting Nigerian farmers on track to earn a staggering N48 billion from exports in 2023.
Recent data from the Association of Hibiscus Flower Exporters of Nigeria highlights that the nation has shipped an impressive 23,796 metric tons, encapsulated in 1,983 40-foot containers. With the prevailing rate standing at N1.7 million for each ton, this crop could soon transform the financial landscape for Nigerian farmers.
As prices blossom, farmers are being swayed towards hibiscus cultivation, leaving behind other traditional crops. In the Jigawa region, Musa Mohammed, a seasoned hibiscus farmer, has observed this shift firsthand. “The numbers speak for themselves. With prices nearly doubling, it’s no surprise that more and more farmers are gravitating towards hibiscus cultivation,” he remarked.
This upswing in demand and price can be linked to Mexico’s decision to lift its export ban on Nigeria’s hibiscus flowers. Today, Mexico stands as the largest importer, consuming about 85% of Nigeria’s hibiscus yield.
For Idris Abubakar, another Jigawa-based farmer, the demand is too hot to handle. He’s been contracting fellow farmers to boost production, revealing, “The demand is surging daily. I’ve expanded my farms and even funded other farmers to meet the escalating demand.”
Historically, a ban on exports to Mexico had driven many hibiscus farmers out of business. But with the ban lifted, not only are they making a comeback, but newcomers are also flocking to capitalize on the lucrative pricing.
Hibiscus isn’t just about numbers; it’s a culturally significant plant. In West Africa, it’s the heart of several products from the beloved zobo drink to jams, jellies, and traditional medicines. The flower flourishes all year round but peaks between November and April. Its cultivation is most robust in areas like Jigawa, Katsina, Bauchi, and Kano.
In Mexico, hibiscus takes the form of ‘Agua de Jamaica,’ a cherished drink made by steeping the flowers, mixing them with water, and adding a touch of sugar.
Tunji Lawal, president of AHFEN, beams with optimism for the future. “Nigeria has a unique position in the hibiscus trade with Mexico. Despite setbacks from the ban, we’re making a resilient comeback,” he shared.
With planting season aligning with the rains, the regions readying for this bloom include Jigawa, Katsina, and Bauchi. And once the October harvest begins, the flower remains accessible up to September, ensuring a steady flow of this crimson gold.