Dear potential vegetable farmer, this piece of information is all you need to be successful in vegetable production. I know you are confused or divided on which vegetable to cultivate because your mind is telling you that cucumber is more profitable than pepper.
Just last week, your uncle told you that bitter leaf farming is turning ordinary people into millionaires and you want to invest in commercial bitter production. Or you want to cultivate all the vegetables on planet earth because you heard they profitable?
I understand your state of mind.
But, give me 10 minutes of your time and your eyes will be open. You will be able to choose which vegetable is the best and more profitable in your market. Do you recall that in our part(1) of the profitability of vegetable production, I highlighted 2 reasons why you should invest in vegetable production?
Good, I know you remember the points clearly. So, let’s proceed.
Let me rewind your brain to SSS1 Economics today. Our teachers taught us some “Basic Economic Goals And Problems Of Society” while in secondary school or high school.
Sorry, we only read that to pass examinations and never to practice in our daily lives? I suggest you’d practice if you want to be a successful business persona.
Don’t just jump into practical agricultural science without asking and correctly answering these questions.
What to produce?
If you can answer this question correctly and with a strong face as an intending business person or farmer, you’ll never beg for patronage.
For instance: At DENKOL FARMS, we don’t and will never beg people to come and buy birds or pigs or processed stone-free rice because we are producing exactly WHAT consumers are willing and financially capable of buying all year round.
No wastage on my farm but rather, I always run out of supply due to the production capacity. I know we have communities where people don’t touch nor eat pigs, so if you visit my blog and read how profitable the pig business is, don’t rush into building a pig pen yet. You need to discover your market.
Though I am teaching you the hidden wealth in vegetable production and further telling you cucumber is the most profitable vegetable you should cultivate, this might be false information to some people due to their market demand.
What you should produce cannot be answered by me. Let your market decide for you.
How to produce?
This question goes with the method of production.
We have some people that due to their level of education and exposure, they don’t eat birds fed with chemicals in the name of eating organic birds. So, if you are in such an environment, do organic poultry farming.
Now, rearing birds organically is not as easy as some people paint it to be. It requires high skill in the management of the birds which you do not have as a beginner, it will be wise if you undergo training on that first.
But here is the logic. If you are rearing birds organically, it means you have niched down your market and potential buyers have been reduced drastically. Only people who understand the health implication of consuming birds reared without chemicals will be willing to patronize you.
Same applies to vegetable production. Organically growing your vegetables is not easy too and it requires high knowledge. Therefore, do not be too anxious about organic farming, have a market first. You need clients with deep pockets who can purchase your farm products in commiseration to your cost of production.
Also, know the quantity to produce. If the total quantity demanded of cassava in your community/market is 3 tonnes and you ignorantly produce 10 tonnes, your middle name will be SORRY during harvest.
Maybe you needed to cultivate just 1 hectare of tomatoes, pepper, carrots, cabbage, or cucumber for your market. But you accidentally produced 5 hectares thinking you can sell all during harvest and your assumption was wrong.
Now that it’s harvest time, all your 5 hectares of tomatoes are ripe and your market purchasing power is just 1 hectare, trust me you will hate agriculture and maybe regret reading my article on the profitability of tomato production that pushed you into investing that huge sum of money.
It is better for you to have a market but be unable to satisfy it than housing perishable vegetables that nobody is willing to buy or pay for its worth. The former will push you into increasing your production capacity, the later will make you hate vegetable business and agriculture in general.
The question of “How To Produce” also demands you know the tools needed to run a successful vegetable farm. Are you employing more machine labour or human hands on the field?
Let us assume you want to cultivate cucumber in the dry season so you can make the money dry season brings for wise and rich farmers. You should be able to identify the system of irrigation you are using to provide food for your vegetables.
Dry season farming is not usually cheap. Now, if your farm area is located close to a river, 90% of your problems are solved already. Because your vegetables will need enough water.
WHAT DO WE MEAN BY CAPITAL INTENSIVE PROJECT?
I constantly see world people complaining “Oh it is capital intensive, I don’t have huge capital” to start. I want to throw more light on this popular complaint world people are using to remain stagnant.
Which of the capital do you lack?
We have Mental capital, Physical capital and Financial capital. People tend to complain about Financial capital more often. Maybe in other businesses, financial capital is the most vital but in Agric, sector finances are just a prerequisite to the main thing.
So many people try to venture into agriculture thinking their millions without knowledge in agriculture will save them. They lose hugely and come back to blame Agric bloggers who copy and paste the information they don’t practice.
I’m not demanding you pay me a consultation fee, because it isn’t in your blood to invest in knowledge because you think paying US$100 for my ebook is a waste of resources. But for those who want to do it right, I advise you to invest in knowledge first.
“While you’re waiting on those doors to open, be curious and use your time to get the knowledge you need to handle the new arena Destiny is beckoning you to enter” ~T.D Jakes.
Why not glean much information about pigs, poultry, fish, goats before investing your millions? I have seen hundreds of abandoned poultry pens worth thousands of Naira/Dollars idle because their owners thought or read on Google “Poultry is profitable venture” and jumped into it without vital information.
Internet farmers: “Invest N500,000 and earn N1,000,000 within 6 months“.
Such statements are 100% true, but the blogger forgot to tell you that such returns mightn’t be true in all locations, market, and seasons of the year.
The crux of the matter is simple: Whenever you come across an agricultural project that demands huge startup capital, your first step should be knowledge acquisition.
Without knowledge, you’ll use your millions to employ unqualified staff with little know-how that will help ruin your business in a short while.
When it comes to investing in agriculture, a little knowledge from the owner is much more important than the staff/farm manager. If you are too busy to invest your time for acquisition of agricultural knowledge, save your money peacefully in your bank account.
Because so many people have invested huge sums of money and are now silent, some now attack articles on social media that promise “100%” return based on the negative experience they had due to their dereliction.
History is crowded with examples and testimonials of people who lost millions in agriculture investments because their social media friends and internet farmers said it is a profitable venture. And they jump into it without investing in knowledge first.
I might sound almost gleeful in emphasizing the need for Agric knowledge before investing but it is VERY tantamount if you value your money. Don’t rush into building a huge poultry pen because you saw me posting attractive pictures on social media. Behind the scenes, it is tedious.
Just because you saw beautiful pictures of my tomato or cucumber farm doesn’t mean it is a profitable business for you. Our market differs and so the profitability of our projects.
Protect your money. Invest only what you understand because your staff might not really be there to help you build a long term business, some are there for their wages or monthly salaries.
From the explanation above, it is clear that you can only ascertain the profitability of a vegetable project by considering your market, cost of labour, access to market, and season of planting. Sit down with a pen and paper and do the calculations before deciding which vegetable to plant.
Green pepper might be profitable and that might be what you want to produce too. But I want to help, if you are cultivating the pepper for commercial purposes, allow your market to decide which vegetable you should plant.
Why am I emphasizing Market Demand?
We discuss these simple but powerful questions in detail as we progress but let me tell you this short story.
I have a friend [name witheld]. Yeah, she might be reading this article and didn’t take permission from her to publish this, so let me hide her identity. This lady has a serious passion for tomatoes. According to her, no farming activity interests her like tomato production.
As she is passionate about tomato production, she knows almost everything about tomatoes. When I say everything I mean, from studying all varieties of tomatoes, she knows the best variety, the right soil to plant on, the most preferred soil, how to increase its productivity. She can discuss tomato value addition businesses from morning till night without getting tired or running out of ideas.
She knows everything about tomatoes and she cultivates more tomatoes on her farm. But the sad reality is, she is trading in the wrong market but with the right commodity.
Oh, I forgot… This lady in question resides in Makurdi Benue State, Nigeria. In Benue State, a lot of farmers are into commercial cultivation of tomatoes therefore, the market is usually saturated during harvest seasons.
A big basket of tomatoes usually trade between N50-N150 (less than US$1) and yet they end up in the waste bin. Because almost all the farmers in Benue State cultivate tomatoes and it floods the market making it hard to sell at a reasonable price.
Maybe you should relocate to Benue State and start a proper tomato processing plant? Or add little value to the tomatoes like drying and reselling? Yeah, we will discuss value addition extensively as we progress. Stay connected and watch out for the next episodes.
Let me tell you a story of a lady who lost over N360,000 which is about US$928 on cucumber production. Pause for a moment; I am not saying this to discourage you from dry season farming, I want you to come fully prepared.
She is my Facebook friend. According to her, cucumber was her favourite vegetable and usually expensive in her community. So, cultivating it would give good profit after-sales. So, investing in dry season commercial cucumber production was the best business decision.
Yes, it was but she was not a 21st-century farmer. She started the right journey but applied the wrong approach. Let us get the right approach today.
Follow me closely. The cucumber was planted, the right seeds were used. The seed germination rate was good, but she missed some important steps that led to complete failure of the project though she invested a big sum of money.
Here was her number one mistake: She never knew cucumber could be staked in order to increase productivity.
If you are intending to venture into commercial cucumber production, this is the number one step you must take. Make provision for staking. Have your sticks/ropes ready because cucumbers do not produce on the floor. This friend of mine thought cucumber was watermelon or carrot and never bothered about staking until it was too late.
Mistake number two: She could not estimate the exact amount of water her vegetables would need to consume to be able to survive and produce fruits. I do not have to tell you much about water if you are practising dry season farming. It is the most important thing and should be ready before you think about planting any vegetable.
If your farmland is located close to a river, then you are good to go. If you can provide a borehole and connect all the needed water pipelines, congratulations, the money will flood your bank account during harvest.
Do not admire dry season farming money if you do not have water and your pocket cannot provide a simple irrigation system for you. My friend’s cucumber started fruiting and water was insufficient and they dried off and she ended up in tears.
At first, she was buying water from a waterboard to irrigate her cucumber and she ran out of money when it was the right time for proper watering.
Mistake number three: She did not understand the nature of the soil she was cultivating on.
If you are cultivating vegetables, study the soil type. Some soil types like loamy soil hold water, sandy and clay soils don’t hold water. If you know this, it helps estimate the volume of water needed in the soil to sustain your vegetables from day one to maturity.
On a final note, if you discover a profitable commodity in the market, do not rush into producing it. Know how you are going to do it. Understand the numbers involved and if it is doable, then proceed.
Do not assume you can plant onions during the dry season. Know how much money and knowledge it takes to be successful at growing onions and then start small.
For whom to produce?
Who are your targeted customers? If you cannot identify them, do not produce. If you don’t know who is ready to buy your cucumber, watermelon, birds, pigs, tomato, banana/plantain, fish, rice or cassava, then, don’t produce.
Don’t allow your vegetables to clock maturity stage before you start hustling for buyers, secure a market before you produce to avoid food wastage and misdirection of your limited funds.
Where to produce?
Pig farming is highly profitable in Benue State and I might write a large ebook upload to my blog, you download, read and jump into piggery. I gave out the correct information based on my market but you refused to conduct a market survey, therefore you went fast and produced pigs in the wrong market and you are now begging people to buy.
Don’t come and invest in cassava cultivation in Benue State, it is a wrong market saturated with plenty of cassava already. Blame yourself if you make that avoidable mistake.
If you cannot sit down and analyze this 4 basic Economic Problem Of Society before jumping into agriculture or any business and later complain about the non-availability of a market for your farm products, you are the reason why Nigerian youths are shouting “School Na Scam”.
Please, understand the economics of food production today. It is not just about production. Produce what people can buy, do it in the right place, using their approved method and in the right quality/quantity.
Agriculture is a serious business, don’t come and saturate our market with unwanted products. And He said, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and put them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” ~Jesus Christ.
The practice is the best way to learn.