Cabbage, known on the streets as “Musoro wembudzi” or “ Inhloko” in vernacular is quite popular with most vegetable vendors and ultimately consumers. Cabbage has an amazingly huge demand with over 200 000 heads of cabbage being sold each day collectively across various markets in Harare, to the business minded farmer this translates to thousands of dollars in profit and hence is a great business opportunity as the crop is one of the easiest to grow and less demanding in terms of resources.
When is the best time to grow cabbages?
Cabbages can be grown all year round in Zimbabwe generally, but the best time to grow cabbages with ultimate profits is during the winter season, May – July however try to make sure that severe winter temperatures catch the crop when it is now mature as seedlings are prone to frost damage and mature plants can withstand temperatures as low as -3 degrees. Winter period is appropriate as cabbage fetches one of the best prices during this time, 50c to 80c/ head average size. Usually volumes are generally low during winter pushing the prices up and the farmer should take advantage of this and move volumes. On the technical side during winter time your agro chemicals bill is less by 36 % which translates to thousands of dollars saved as compared to cropping in summer.
How much do I need to start up?
Perhaps before I get into the numbers business that we are all interested in, it is best to emphasize that one needs to employ experienced staff members or at least have the workers trained by a professional agronomist prior to cropping in order to maximize on quality. On average an investment of 4 000 USD/ha is required this includes variable costs. I know most of you reading this article by now are saying 4 000 USD is a bit steep, wait a minute there is a positive side for every dollar invested expect between 4 – 6 USD in return. In simpler terms you invest 4 000 expect roughly about 10 000 -12 000 USD after taking into consideration possible losses this is a good figure which should send you smiling to the bank.
How important is quality in cabbage production?
Quality is of utmost importance when growing cabbages this is what will make a difference in terms of the farmer making a profit or a loss. A good example we always tell our clients at Agro Aid Trust is that for every cabbage head that has a coin size hole due to pest damage is equivalent to 1 cent reduction in potential price. This point just stresses the importance of a good pest management program when growing cabbages going back to the issue of experienced staff being crucial.
How long does it take before I harvest?
This depends on your choice of variety, early maturing 75 -85 days, medium 75- 110 days and late maturing 80-120 days roughly. Most farmers prefer the early maturing variety and the most common amongst our farmers is the early maturing variety Starke Eyre’s Star 3311 hybrid which has outstanding yield properties meaning in three months’ time you will be able reap the rewards meaning that within a space of 1 year you can crop 4 times on the same piece of land which translates to huge figures in profit.
What are the most common challenges in cabbage production?
Most farmers make the mistake of producing quality crop in huge volumes but do not have the pre requisite market to absorb their produce often resulting in losses. It is advisable to first investigate and gather enough information about your market before cropping to avoid this scenario. Another common challenge is that of poor quality produce, the chief culprit being pests which damage the leaves , it is very important to have a strict spraying program that is adhered to religiously in order to manage and control the pests.
It is very important to emphasize that cabbage production is a volumes game. The more cabbage you produce the more returns you make. Established farmers will tell you that for example you may produce a truck load of cabbages e.g in lay man’s terms a T35 truck but only realize a profit of 300 USD after deductions of transport etc but if you send a load of a Nissan UD truck you realize a profit of roughly 1 000 USD.
In the next article we will go deep into the production technicalities of cabbage so be sure to visit this page.
Emmanuel DN Dube is the senior agronomist at Agro Aid Trust, if you have any questions please email him on email@example.com +263783 495 396
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