Vegetable farming is a very lucrative agribusiness; it is one of the under-explored business opportunities in Nigeria. It is one of the measures to ensure food security and tackle malnutrition in the world. Little did you know that vegetables could cure most of the deleterious diseases that shorten one’s lifespan. Vegetables are rich in vitamins and essential minerals needed for the proper and perfect functioning of the body.
You want to improve your sight, eat carrot. Want to get rid of excess fat or potbelly? Eat Amaranthus and other leafy vegetables; you need magnesium for good brain function, consider cauliflower. You want strong bones and good muscle development, consume more leafy vegetables; even if you want a soft skin and reduce acne eat waterleaf, cucumbers, and watermelon. The health benefits of vegetables are copious and these have made them valuable.
Why You Should Start A Vegetable Farm
You want to start producing foods but your choice of farming still looks obscure, here are why you should consider vegetable farming.
Quick turnover: Vegetable farming is the only form of crop production that can pay you salaries. You earn monthly when done as it would be discussed in this article.
Cheap source of food: Vegetables are cheap; this gives a large market opportunity.
Wide acceptability: I am yet to know any taboo or cultural violation of vegetable consumption. (If you know any, share with us via comment below or on our Whatsapp platform)
Less capital intensive: The price of vegetable seeds is cheap compared to its yield and price of other seeds.
You do not necessarily need to have large space: Yes! Farming has gone beyond tiling the soil. You can now produce more with less surface area.
The reasons to start a vegetable farm are inexhaustible.
Stepwise Guide On Vegetable Farming
Like all forms of economic activities, vegetable farming has steps you must follow to plant, nurture, harvest and sell to the consumers. Here are the steps to follow if you want to increase the profit of your vegetable farm.
Get a plan
This is the most important step in any business. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Planning is the first step of increasing the profit on a vegetable farm. In your farm plan, you decide the type of vegetable to plant, when and how to plant it.
Because vegetable is widely accepted does not mean you should plant any type of vegetable that comes to your mind. I made a quick survey for a choice of vegetable to plant; I was stunned at the high demand for waterleaf, a vegetable I serve snails.
Make your research within your target market. Do not plant because you have the land, plant based on people’s demand.
Land preparation is necessary for any land-based crop production. I would emphasize more on land-based vegetable farming because the soil-less medium is expensive and not advisable for startups.
Land preparation is one of the ways of reducing the cost of vegetable production; the way you prepare your land for vegetables is different from the way you prepare your land for the cultivation of other crops.
If you have been observant enough during ploughing, you would observe that lots of insect eggs and pupa are usually turned to the surface of the earth. This is because most insects lay their eggs beneath the soil and the new insects emerge on the same soil you want to plant your vegetable.
Hence, if you did not take your time and prepare your land using this land preparation method, you would end up spending more on controlling the destructive activities of these insects as they emerge, hence, your cost of production is increased.
Vegetable Bed Preparation
Vegetables can be planted in different mediums but have said earlier that I would emphasize more on soil-based planting. Vegetables are planted on beds of known dimension. This has implications as to how to much profit you would make from vegetable farming.
There are two types of beds used in planting vegetables; we have the Sunken bed and the Raised bed. These beds are used under different conditions.
The sunken bed is that type of vegetable bed with a concave surface, that is, the edges are more prominent than the surface of the bed. Sunken beds are used in commercial vegetable farming, where vegetables are produced all through the year, irrespective of the season.
The sunken bed is used during the dry season, where there is no threat of flood. The way the bed is constructed makes it conserve water during watering operation such that, the vegetables have enough water for their use.
Raised beds are used for wet season vegetable planting. It is constructed such that it is taller than the earth surface with a flat surface. The idea is, it helps to prevent flooding and helps to retain water.
Method of planting Vegetable
The method you adopt when planting your vegetable seeds matters a lot; it can increase or decrease your profit. There are two methods of planting vegetables, depending on the size of the seeds. You can plant either using the Broadcasting method or Drilling method.
In the broadcasting method of planting, the seeds are uniformly distributed on the beds. The method has advantages and disadvantages.
The advantages of using broadcasting method are:
It accommodates more plants: You can have more vegetables on a single bed
It reduces the workforce since you have more plants in a relatively small portion.
Low incidence of weeds.
It is easy and less time-consuming
The disadvantages of using the broadcasting method
Total control of weed is not achievable
The value or cost of each bed cannot be determined.
It leads to wastage of seeds.
There is high competition for nutrients water and space.
At times, the yield is usually low.
Agronomic practices are difficult to carry out on the beds.
Drilling method of vegetable cultivation involves making of small openings or channels of an equal distance across the bed such that the seeds are planted inside the channels made only. This method also has some economic advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of drilling method
Agronomic practices are easily carried out.
Seeds are better economized
Each bed can be valued prior to harvesting.
Plant density per bed is managed
Little or no competition for water, nutrients, and space among plants.
Best for estimating cost and calculating profit.
Resources are better managed
Disadvantages of drilling method
Requires more space as each bed contains a relatively small amount of vegetables
It is labor intensive
Economic Implication Of Broadcasting And Drilling Method
The two methods of planting vegetable have economic implications. Personally, I recommend the drilling method. Why?
For vegetable farming to be profitable, it requires a feasible business plan that is only achievable when you can estimate the cost of each unit of bed and its return. This is only achievable when you use the drilling method.
Take a keen look at the picture of the bed above. Each line bears the vegetable. From that, you could simply place a price on each line; multiply the price by the number of lines you have on a bed to know the expected return on each bed.
For instance, if you have a bed of 1m by 5m; you can have as much as 15 lines of vegetables on it using a spacing of 0.3m between the lines. If you place a price of N100 or N50 on each line, it means you would have N1500 or N750 on each bed. On a plot of land of 18m by 36m (648sqm), you can have up to 100 beds of 1m by 5m on it. When you multiply the value of each bed by the total number of beds you have, you can forecast your profit and likely inputs needed to make the cultivation profitable.
Aside from the fact that you can predetermine your profit from each bed, the drilling method also allows you to economize your seeds. The quantity of seeds you would use to plant a bed using the broadcasting method is very much higher than the quantity you would use to plant a bed of the same dimension using the drilling method.
This is not possible using the broadcasting method, hence, the drilling method is good for any profit-oriented vegetable farmer.
Truly, vegetable farming is very lucrative; but you need to understand these basics of land preparation, bed making and planting methods to ensure you have a good yield and earn more.
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