Okra has been a popular vegetable crop in Nigeria with dependable yield, adaptability to varying moisture conditions and resistance to diseases and pests. Okra is rich in carbohydrates, proteins, and vitamin C as well as essential amino acids. Okra is a popular health food due to its high fibre and folate content. It is also known for being high in antioxidants, and a good source of calcium and potassium.

1. Harvesting

Harvesting of okra takes place at most 2 days intervals so as to retain its freshness. The use of hand gloves in harvesting some varieties of okra with spines that cause irritation on the skin is important. Okra harvesting starts 2 to 3 months after planting of okra seeds.

2. Storage of okra

Like any other vegetable, okra is a perishable product that needs to be stored in a cool dry place after harvesting between 1 and 2 days. It can also be stored in a fridge either raw or cooked. It can be stored for a long time when sliced and sun-dried.

3. Processing of okra

Equipment used in processing okra

  • Knife
  • Grater
  • Mortar and pestle
  • Grinding stone
  • motorized slicer

Okra processing is of two types

  • Household consumption
  • Commercial purpose

Household consumption: This involves slicing young immature fruits, leaves, buds and flowers with a knife, grater, mortar and pestle and/or grinding stone. The sliced bits are later boiled, fried or cooked by a household. Sliced okra can also be dried which is nutritious when preparing vegetable curds, or roasted and ground to be used as a coffee additive.

Commercial purpose: This involves the use of a motorised slicer for large-scale production. The okra is later either sun or oven-dried. It can be further ground into powdery form to enable longer storage and to reduce its bulkiness. Commercial processing encourages medicinal use of okra mucilage as a plasma replacement, treatment of syphilis, cuts, wounds and boils in the human body as well as treatment of catarrhal infections, ardor urinae, dysuria and gonorrhoea among others.

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