Zimbabwe, as we have been told time and again, is a nation built on agriculture. One possibility for those looking to go into farming is herb farming. Herbs are plants with leaves, seeds or flowers that are used in flavouring, as food, in medicine or perfumes. While the definition may not be correct according to botanical classification standards it will suffice for the discussion we are about to have. Herb farming presents opportunities for farmers with limited space and with most herbs having short durations to maturity they are also great products from a cash flow perspective. Here are some herbs that you could venture into growing.
Basil is mostly used in food and features prominently in Mediterranean cooking. With basil maturing in 50 to 75 days, it gives you a very quick turnaround time. It can be sold as fresh or dried.
Chives are similar to onions in that the leaf is what is desired and they are also used in food. They feature across many types of cuisine and the market for chives is quite wide. Chives will mature in around 90 days. They are more popular sold as fresh chives.
Coriander seeds come from the same plant that cilantro leaves are derived from, features prominently in Mexican and Thai cuisine. It pairs well with so many types of food including beans, cheese, eggs, fish and more. Coriander will take around 45 days to mature allowing you to net a quick return. It is popular sold as fresh.
Oregano is very popular in Italian cuisine and provides the punch in Italian herbs. There is more to oregano as it is also used widely in medicines for respiratory conditions and gastrointestinal disorders. With oregano, you can expect maturity in 45 days. Oregano is sold as both fresh and dried.
While many will know parsley as a cute garnish and as adding a decent hint of flavour to eggs and salads parsley has many medicinal applications. These include treatment for constipation, diabetes, coughs, asthma, high blood pressure and urinary tract infections. You will need to be a little more patient with parsley which takes around 90 days to mature.
Chamomile is a herb that is better known or its medicinal applications. This wonder herb is used in treating hay fever Chamomile preparations are commonly used for many human ailments such as hay fever, inflammation, muscle spasms, menstrual disorders, insomnia, ulcers, wounds, gastrointestinal disorders, rheumatic pain, and haemorrhoids. It is processed and sold as dried chamomile or in essential oil form. Chamomile will mature around 60 days.
Caraway is a herb that is grown mainly for its seeds which are used in food. The dried seeds are added to savoury foods such as casseroles, soups, stews and sauces. Caraway will take around 70 days to mature.
The term superfood is abused but garlic really deserves the tag. It is a feature of food all over the world. Very few recipes cannot be made better with garlic. It doesn’t stop there as garlic has many medicinal uses and helps with the treatment of high blood pressure, cholesterol, colds, flu and many other uses. Garlic takes around 90 days to grow.
Ginger is an incredibly popular herb that is more popularly known for its root. It has many medicinal uses and is very popular in food and beverages. Ginger takes around 10 months to grow and mature.
This is another popular herb that is grown for its leaves, flowers and oil extracts. It helps with lung conditions, hair loss and stomach ailments. It also has many food applications. It is a fast-growing herb that can be harvested within 3 months and continually harvested for 3-4 years from the same plant.
As you will see from the examples above many herbs grow to maturity very quickly and some allow multiple harvests. They can be grown in hydroponic or vertical farming set up. While many are sold fresh processing methods like drying also apply which are simple enough for even beginners to carry out.