The Business Of Gardening

April 14, 2021
New Opportunities

While it is the norm in Africa to venture into farming, there are creative ways we could transform gardening to meet our modern needs. Our favorable climatic conditions allows us to experiment with different kinds of crops. Gardening can be a profitable business and provide a good work and life balance when managed properly. There is no minimum criteria required to start a garden business. One of the best places to start, which might be within your reach either from your garden or micro farm, is perennial crops. The main advantage of perennial crops is that they come every year without you having to replant. There is always that rush each year to prepare the soil or wait for that moment in between rain seasons. Perennial crop farming is usually a benefit to small farmers who want to avoid the burden of over work and micro management. Although there are disadvantages of perennial crop farming, like it is expensive to buy these crops and they usually take a long time before yielding harvest, its benefits as a hustle exceed these downsides.  Not only do perennial crops improve the ecological system but it also improves the soil overtime unlike annual crops which tend to disrupt the soil.

Which are these perennial crops that are best to venture into, you might wonder? Look at fruits e.g. Passion fruit and avocado farming. Fruits are always on demand or have you not noticed that fruit vendors always have a long queue of customers? When selecting fruit crops always consider the harvest window of each crop. You may have an option of crops that bear fruit once a year or several harvests throughout the year. In the first option of once a year harvest, the harvest and market season comes once and might be super busy and after a while its over because yields occur only once a year. Unlike the harvest that are made throughout the year where the farmer is allowed to select a variety of crops/fruits which have different harvest window in a particular year. The latter option is best for beginners as you try out crops which are best for you.

Vegetables such as tomatoes, capsicums and herbs also fall under perennial crops and they are definitely worth a look for a side hustle either as a small scale or large scale gardener. There are some vegetables which top chefs and local consumers pay quite an amount for which include vegetables for gourmet dishes and vegetables for soups and stews at home. High end local chefs and local grocery store would be excited to find a sustainable, healthy and reliable source of vegetables from your garden. Herbs like chives, oregano, cloves, garlic, mint leaves and more, consistently command high profits per square foot.

Take Veronica Kanyango from Zimbabwe who works in home based health care, who has turned her small space into a sack garden where a network of women are producing lettuce and tomatoes for the Mariott Hotel. Using bags which are filled with manure and soil, sack gardening has been successfully adopted in areas of Africa where agriculture faces different challenges. It is a proven way to grow crops in areas where there is drought, limited space like the urban setting as well as areas prone to flooding. This is actually one of the cheapest and easy to do form of gardening. There’s no high cost to get started and no seed funding required, you can actually begin immediately with just a sack and some soil. Sack gardens can take a small space of land but yield quite a bountiful harvest using little resources, less amount of water and with minimal effort.

African flower growing companies from Kenya and Rwanda among other nations are seeking to expand their global market by showcasing at the world’s biggest flower market at IFTF (International Floriculture Trade Fair). Kenya is the world’s third largest exporter of cut flowers as at 2019, contributing 1.06% to Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product- GDP. Low Wages, favorable weather conditions (especially countries that lie along the equator where flowers grow with little energy input all year round) and good infrastructure facilities have contributed to Kenya’s number one position as a rose growing country on the African continent. Time is critical in the flower business since cut flowers must reach consumers within 72 hours if they are to survive around 7 days in a vase and in water. For those doing large scale flower farming, a cold store is required since cut flowers have to be transported using a cold chain which is a series of refrigerated facilities on farms, lorries and planes so that they can remain fresh. However the flower farm business went down tremendously due to travel restrictions and lockdowns in the consumer countries that was brought about by the Covid 19 pandemic. The scale of the global market for cut flowers is large and increasing. For example, in the UK the market for flowers was worth £1.3 billion in 2018 plus most of these flowers are imported!

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