When talking about vegetable farming in Zimbabwe we can never skip cucumber farming. It is one of the profitable niches when it comes to vegetable farming in Zimbabwe. Cucumbers are considered by most as a vegetable but some consider them a fruit. In this article, I shall be discussing how you can start a cucumber farming business. There are so many reasons why cucumbers are popular amongst Zimbabweans. One of them is that Zimbabweans are a braai-loving people of which cucumbers are a central part of the salads used during braais. On average, 5 in every 10 Zimbabweans consume cucumber regularly. Cucumber maturation durations differ but you can find early ripening varieties maturing after just a little over a month. You can see how this is a great attribute for the turnaround period.
I do not usually do this but let me highlight some things here to inspire you. A healthy mature cucumber plant can produce on average, 20 cucumbers. 8 metres by 25 metres piece of greenhouse land can accommodate around 600 plants. That would mean you can get an average of 12000 cucumbers from that piece of land. Conservatively you can sell one cucumber for US$0.50, even more – referring to producer price here. Do the math; you get roughly US$6000 in gross revenue. That money is enough to recoup money used to set up the greenhouse with roughly a US$1500 being left over. As you can see once the greenhouse is set up all the subsequent batches of cucumbers will bring in huge amounts of money.
I once did an article on crops that can be propagated from cuttings – I mentioned cucumbers as one of them. However, experts do not quite recommend that approach, especially for commercial cucumber farming. The best approach is to propagate cucumbers from seeds. The other pivotal thing to note here is that greenhouse farming brings out the best results. That does cost money so if you cannot you can farm them otherwise. You can even start on a much smaller piece of land; what is important is to start and grow gradually. In the long term, I do encourage you to adopt greenhouse farming. You would be amazed at the fact that you do not need that much land for that yet getting amazing yields.
The land is definitely a key requirement here. Your scale of production will inform on the actual size of land you need. If you are considering propagating the cucumbers using greenhouse farming that would be great. You could aim to start with a greenhouse that covers a piece of land 8 metres by 25 metres, at the very least. Equipment for setting it up will be needed. Other key requirements are organic material, fertilizers, chemicals, irrigation material, of course, the seeds, land preparation and management implements (mechanical or handheld), just to mention a few. You would be pleased to know that all the things you require are predominantly readily available all across the country.
A considerable number of workers will be necessary; not that many though. Especially with greenhouse farming, not many workers will be needed. This is because the day to day routines and the subsequent harvesting is not as back-breaking as it is for other crops or farming approaches. As always, your scale and sophistication of production do have a bearing on the number of hands that will suffice.
Financial capital requirements will vary depending on your respective circumstances. Let us suppose you already own land, you could start farming cucumbers with as little as US$150. If you will say, have to rent land then the money needed might be at least 10 times more than that. Significant initial investments come into the picture when you take the greenhouse route.
The market is so vast that you can carve out a piece for yourself. Customers can range from individuals to wholesalers and retailers. Prior market research is still important nonetheless. Take advantage of the internet and social media to conduct digital marketing.
Important Things To Consider
Much like any crop, care must be taken to thwart pests, weeds, and diseases. These 3 menaces can seriously reduce your yields if you trivialize them. Cucumbers thrive best under warm conditions – when temperatures are above 18 degrees Celsius that is when it will be ideal. Cucumbers require adequate water which is why irrigation is largely inevitable. There are many varieties to choose from but be sure to get expert advice on which ones are the best. English cucumbers are one of the most popular varieties – they can average 30 centimetres in length.
Farming cucumbers might seem all straightforward and easy but be diligent all the same. When in doubt ask experts or those already in the game. Acquire as much knowledge as possible so that you do not make costly mistakes. By the way, get your seeds from reputable sources, do not cut corners here.