In this article, I shall be exploring the ever-growing interest in greenhouse farming in Zimbabwe. If you backtrack a few years ago you will notice that greenhouse still seemed to be for a select few. In fact, growing up it was characteristic to only see greenhouses at very few white-owned farms. Amazingly in the past couple of years, greenhouse farming has steadily gone the mainstream in Zimbabwe. Add a few more years from now and I am convinced it will be the norm for crop production to be mainly through greenhouse farming locally.
What Greenhouse Farming Entails
What is greenhouse farming? It is a specialized farming approach where crops are grown inside unique shelters. These shelters are typically built from wooden frames (or steel frames) and transparent or translucent plastic. The major aim of greenhouse farming is to provide an environment for the crops that is unaffected by natural weather or climatic conditions. That is the core reason why it is fast becoming the mainstream in Zimbabwe.
Interestingly greenhouses have been dated back to as far back as the 15th century. Early stories of them or structures resembling them were in Rome and Korea. However, it was between the 17th and 18th centuries when more and more countries adopted and explored, with a bid to perfect the concept of greenhouses. Some of those countries were the Netherlands and the USA. The underlying motivation for greenhouses from the beginning was to be able to grow something all year round.
Why It Is The Perfect Fit For Zimbabwe
Climate change has been evident in Zimbabwe. In fact, the weather seems to play out to extremes nowadays. If it is cold, hot, or raining it is usually to the extremes. This is worsened by the mercurial nature of the weather patterns too. In just one day or over week weather can shift unpredictably. These scenarios make dependability on natural conditions for farming a risky undertaking. That is why greenhouse farming becomes a necessary go-to. Not only do you get to circumvent the unreliability of natural conditions; you also get to grow anything all year round.
Greenhouse farming also makes it possible to realize bumper yields on small pieces of land. For example, you can reap 12000 cucumbers from a greenhouse sitting on 8 metres by 25 metres of land. An observation I have also noted is that the cost of getting a greenhouse built will gradually go down over time. As more and more people seek greenhouse services, more service providers will emerge thus pushing prices down.
Now that I have mentioned the cost issue it would benefit you if you get a rough idea of the costs. The details I will share with you are about some of the key greenhouse service providers I know. You can find a 120 square metres wooden greenhouse costing US$2300. A hybrid greenhouse covering the same land space would cost around US$2900. This is from one particular service provider. A hybrid greenhouse entails the mixed-use of wooden and steel for the frame.
From another service provider, the same size costs approximately US$2100 for the wooden, US$2500 for the hybrid or US$3500 for the metal. Ultimately you have to consider several service providers before settling for one. By the way, 120 square metres is 8 metres by 15 metres – I have noticed most people go for this one. In essence, it is like the entry-level for most. It can accommodate 400 tomato plants, 400 cucumber plants or 750 pepper plants.
Generally, greenhouses can be anything from 100 square metres (i.e. 8 metres by 12.5 metres) to 1 hectare (i.e. 10000 square metres). The average price range of that is anything from US$1500 to US$200000, depending on it being wooden, hybrid, or metal. That is the rough price guide I can give you so that you know what to expect.
I also have to discuss this because it is vital you know what is involved. Of course, packages will vary from service provider to service provider. A greenhouse package will generally have the following:
- Structure Or Frame – Wooden, Metal, Or Hybrid
- Plastic – Specs Vary (E.g. UV Treated, 200 Micron,)
- Irrigation (Usually Drip) And Filtration
- Installation Process
- Trellising Support Structure
- Bio Security Features
Some Service Providers To Consider
There are several players already on the scene but I will just highlight two of them. There is Total Farm Solutions whose motto is “enhancing productivity one hectare at a time”. You can call them on +263 (024) 2307353 or email on firstname.lastname@example.org. You can check out their website here or go to their Facebook page here. Then we also have AgriRocket Engineering. You can call them on +263 77 130 8557 or check them out on Facebook here. I know there are other players out there but these two examples are what I considerably know enough to recommend.
That does it for some important things you ought to know about greenhouse farming in Zimbabwe. If you are bent on doing crop production then greenhouse farming will be inevitable. It is the biggest key to all-year-round crop production and huge returns on investment. It is amazing to know that for example, one batch of cucumbers can generate enough revenue to recoup costs incurred in getting the greenhouse setup. Not only that but with profit still being made all the same. So what are you waiting for?