Besides onion, garlic is the most important bulb crop grown almost all over the world including South Africa. It has been used throughout recorded history for both medicinal and culinary purposes. It is widely used for flavouring and seasoning dishes, pickles, and sauces to name a few uses. Garlic is also used often when it comes to cooking for virtually every household in South Africa. The garlic farming business can be a profitable venture to start in this country. It is rare to talk about cooking without the ingredient.
A garlic farming business is a profitable business, providing income for thousands of entrepreneurs, but there are some essential factors you need to consider before venturing into this type of business. You need to decide on the size of your business; location, the plant variety you intend on growing, plus your target market. These factors will be affected by the amount of capital you have. Thus, you should carry out a feasibility study, market research and have a good garlic farming business plan before you venture into this type of business.
LAND FOR GARLIC FARMING BUSINESS
Land is a primary requirement and must be suitable for garlic farming. As a general rule, the conditions suitable for garlic production are also suitable for garlic production. To be profitable in the garlic farming business you should reap as much yield as possible through good agronomic practices. Also, soil fertility is of utmost importance. The use of decayed leaves, compost or animal manure as organic matter is highly recommended to increase the soil fertility. The soil should have good aeration, and should not contain toxic materials. The soil should also have good water holding capacities. Garlic can grow on a wide array of soil textures depending on the variety of the garlic plant. Fertile sandy loam soils are usually the best for garlic farming. Also take note of the soil pH level of the soil should be between 5.0 and 6.8.
MACHINERY & EQUIPMENT FOR GARLIC FARMING BUSINESS
To successful grow garlic you will need different kinds of machinery and equipment. Land preparation will require varying levels of mechanisation. Small tracts of land might be prepared with hand-held implements without any problems. In rural areas, the use of animal drawn implements can come in handy. However, for large scale garlic farming businesses, there’ll be need for machinery & equipment such as tractors, fertilizer spreaders, sprayers, diggers, harvesters, and irrigation equipment, to name a few. You might not necessarily have to purchase all this equipment; since most of it you be hired. Other necessary requirements such as power generation as some of the operations such as irrigation will need power should be prepared for. You can incorporate the use of fuel-powered pumps or leverage on solar energy. You may also need to have to stand-by generators to cushion yourself against lengthy power outages. Your garlic farming business plan should cater for these and other costs relating to machinery and equipment.
For a garlic farming business you require inputs such as fertilizers to ensure soil fertility and augment growth. For effective growth, garlic requires plant nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These nutrients should be provided via fertilisers and manure to promote growth. Herbicides for effective weed control are important as well, when carrying out garlic farming, you can use herbicides like Metribuzine, Pyrinex 480EC, Ronstar depending on the type of weeds at your farm. Fungicides and insecticides are essential for plant protection against insects and fungi. The chemicals you can use include Dimethoate EC, Malathion EC, Dedevap EC, Carbaryl, and Nematicides just to mention a few. The cost associated with your farm operations should be clearly outlined in your garlic farm business plan.
LABOUR FOR GARLIC FARMING BUSINESS
Labour is another important input that should be planned for when growing garlic. You can consider hiring part time farm workers as and when necessary. Part-time labourers will be required because there is a lot of seasonal work to be done at a garlic farm. Some of the activities will include seed planting, transplanting, applying fertilizers, ploughing, and harvesting. You may require supervisors, farm managers, finance & accounting staff, and logistics staff depending on the scale of your garlic farming business. The wages and salaries of your workers should be included in your garlic farming business plan.
There is a high demand for garlic both from the local and international market. Garlic is widely used in cooking. It is used to add flavour to dishes such as stew, soup, and salads. Some of the customers for garlic include individuals, caterers, restaurants, food processors, supermarkets, national fresh produce markets etc.
IS GARLIC FARMING A GOOD INVESTMENT
Garlic farming can be risky, and labour intensive but the crop can be grown successfully. In order to survive, each garlic producer must strive to obtain maximum yield and quality. Knowledge of the garlic plant, its growth cycle and the factors affecting its growth, yield and quality is critical. Also, the marketing of garlic is essential to find buyers. The market is demands large, clean unblemished bulbs that are well graded and well packaged. South Africa garlic producers also compete with cheap garlic imports.
However, garlic consumption has increased significantly over the past years. The main uses of garlic are in the culinary field, although it has other uses in the alternate medicine field because of its medicinal qualities. Recently there have been more developments in the medical field where garlic is said to have a compound that is believed to lower cholesterol. If these developments come to the commercial phase, it could mean a massive increase in garlic production. South Africa is still a net importer of garlic by far, thus there are opportunities for farmers to increase domestic production. One thing that can set you apart before investing in any venture is developing a business plan. Your business plan should clearly outline your operations, costs, risks associated with growing garlic and the ways to minimise them.