By Kudakwashe Gwabanayi
IT IS summer time and it is time for farmers to make money.
The season separates real farmers from wannabes because in summer there is a shortage of almost every crop product on the market.
This is occasioned by lack of water, or a drop in water supply because of the prolonged dry spell as well as the fact that both crops and animals need more water around this time.
As we enter into summer, those that have adequately invested in their watering system should harvest the fruits of their hard work.
Here are some of the tips to make good money this summer:
This one is the consumer’s favourite in summer. Naturally people are not used to having green mealies on the market around November so they buy them on impulse.
The greatest advantage of green mealies is that it is a low cost crop that requires about US$70/per hectare in seed and about US$500 in fertilisers and chemicals.
Unfortunately, this project does not fall under the get-rich-quick category as farmers have to wait for at least three months to harvest.
Also because it is summer, cattle and goats will be looking for anything that is green. But once you have the green mealies, a lot of bulk buyers flock to your field because in summer, nothing sells like green mealies, especially if it is yellow maize for the street roasters. They usually sell at US$1/12. In a hectare you can plant 30 000
Peppers are not easy to propagate. The most difficult part of this project is that pepper does not easily germinate. In most cases when they do germinate they have a very low germination rate, at times 25%.
Should one decide to go for it, it is greatly advised that they buy seedlings, or buy seed and take to a professional nursery to do seedlings for them.
However, once out of the ground, peppers are a serious money-maker. They do not require too much fertiliser and are resistant to diseases. Chances of 80% of the crop reaching maturity are very high and once you hit the market, you are smiling all the way to the bank. Coloured peppers (yellow and red) are always a hit on the market.
Green, fine , sugar beans and peas
This is a get-rich-quick scheme family because they usually take just 60 days to maturity. With fine beans and peas, in six weeks you will be going to the market.
There is no need for a nursery. You just plant them and they grow. During summer most of these legumes are in short supply so they are in demand.
The greatest advantage is that they fix nitrogen to your soil and whatever crop you plant next must then give you a better yield. The price of fine beans rises from US$0,70/kg to about US$1,50/kg.
Then of course there are peas which one can make for the export market. In summer the prices double because very few farmers want to take the risk because of the high prevalence of thrips and other pests.
Farmers who plant sugar beans in summer would have hit two birds with one stone in that the price of sugar beans doubles around December, while at the same time the harvest can be re-planted to multiply yield.
Tomatoes and vegetables
These are crops that any horticultural farmer must have all year round. Forget about the price fluctuations but at any given time a farmer must have these crops as they are consumed all year round. In summer though, the price of tomatoes breaches the US$1/kg mark and cabbages can actually be sold for US$0,50/head. Vegetables are a good source of everyday income for farmers, both into horticulture and those farming in the community.
Vegetables require minimum financial investment while tomatoes require a bit more money, but the return on investment is very lucrative.
There is paprika, bird’s eye and many other chillies are ideal for summer cropping. Chillies have an advantage in that they require little water to reach maturity.
They are also cheap to propagate while at the same time do not require fertiliser to grow. One can use organic manure on them.
When it comes to the market, you can process them into spices. They can be dried and then sold. They can be sold wet locally and on the export market.
- Gwabanayi is a practising journalist and a farmer in his own right. — 0772 865 703 or firstname.lastname@example.org