Egusi colosynthis citrullus lanatus is a West African melon. Agushi, agusi and egushi are other names for this fruit. The melon’s flesh is bitter and inedible; only the seeds of the fruit are eaten. Egusi seeds are high in protein and their flavour is said to be close to that of pumpkin seeds. Each seed is oval shaped and whitish in colour with a light tan shell. The shelled seeds are ground for use in Nigerian recipes — especially the popular egusi soup.
Ground seeds create a thick soup base that may be thinned down with oil and water. If less water and oil are used, a stew rather than a soup is created; some people prefer a thicker base. Meat and/or fish as well as vegetables finish the soup. Fermented beans called iri as well as chili peppers are added for flavour. Shrimp or crayfish may be used for the fish component of the soup, while the meats may be beef or goat.
A traditional Nigerian egusi soup recipe calls for vegetables such as bitter leaf and celosia. Bitter leaf is from the aster family and it’s a leafy vegetable that grows throughout central and West Africa. Bitter leaf has a bittersweet flavour similar to spinach and is sold dried or fresh.
Another popular West African egusi recipe is for palaver sauce. Palaver sauce is meaty and may be served over rice or other grains. Bitter leaf, as well as both fish and meat, are used in the sauce. Some cooks like to use prawns and chicken. As with the egusi soup, African red onions and chili peppers are also added. Ground egusi seeds are added to the other palaver sauce ingredients near the end of the simmering time in order to thicken the mixture.
The Opportunities In Egwusi Business
Egusi Melon Storage Business: Egusi storage business is one in which you don’t need to look for buyers but they look for you. All you need to do is to purchase, store and wait for the price to rise and you resell and make your profit, simple. But you must know that it’s a storage business, meaning you don’t make an instant profit, you have to wait for some weeks after purchase and storage before you can start making profit. In any business, there is risk and if you are not a risk taker, then storage business or any other business is not for you, but if you ask me, then I would tell you that egusi (melon) business is a two percent risk business. We are talking about shelled egusi here, unshelled egusi can’t be stored for long, so we are talking about shelled egusi and a well dried egusi can be stored for 12 months but low dried egusi can only be stored for two to three months maximum. Any storage longer than that will result in spoilage and will really affect the price and that can make you no profit. So be careful and learn a lot before you get started. Egwusi is going for #450 TO #500 per mudu in the village market of Niger and Nasarawa States but in two to three months’ time, your profit will be three times the amount.
Egusi Grinding And Packaging: This is a business of grinding egwusi seed into powder form and packaging it in a plastic can or nylon bag in different sizes. The egwusi must be very dry before you grind, you can add seasoning to it or you can leave it plain. The machinery you need in this business is grinding machine and sealing machine. You do sun drying and manual sorting.
Cultivation Of Egwusi: Egwusi can be inter-cropped with major crops (cassava, yam, maize) in Nigeria as additional crop in the farm but in this case, it should be in smaller quantity so that it won’t disturb the main crop because of its climbing feature. In a good area (fertile land), one stem of melon can shoot out five to 15 heads, therefore needing enough space to do well. It still needs wider spacing than groundnut to help in proper weeding. When you want to harvest, you just need to cut the heads from the crawling stem. You can allow for sometimes when it can be easily squeezed to press out the seeds if you don’t want to do it as it’s still very fresh. You can still sell them off to the begging buyers without stressing yourself to bring out the seeds. Cultivating melon (egusi) is said to be easy yet profitable.
Supplying Of Egwusi: You can make your profit supplying egusi to retailers in the city markets. For instance, you can buy Egusi of 100kg for #40,000 to #50,000 from bush market in Niger or Nasarawa States and sell at #60,000 to retailers in the city. Making #5000 to #10,000 a bag, less transportation