I once did an article on starting a plant nursery business. That kind of business will entail different types of plants – even including trees too. In this particular article, I want to discuss starting a tree nursery business idea. It is obviously understandable that this is not the kind of business where you quickly realize returns. This is because it will take a bit of a while to get to point where you have sellable trees for replanting.
Many people do actually have nurseries but they do not take it seriously as a business. The types of trees to focus on can range from fruits trees to ornamental trees and even commonly known indigenous trees that can be grown to promote environmental sustainability. One common example of an ornamental tree is the palm tree – it is sought-after these days especially for landscaping.
There are two broad approaches you can choose from; I would encourage that you employ both of them. One, you can source seeds and sow and start from there till the young trees can be sold. Two, you can look for young trees that have just germinated and healthy enough and place in your nursery. Here is what I mean; it is common to find trees emerging say, in an orchard. Typically people can eat say, mangoes and discard the seeds on-site and some of them end up germinating. This second approach can help shorten the turnaround period so that you can quickly have young trees ready to sell.
You need land obviously but not necessarily so in every scenario, I will explain why. I advise that it is best to sow and care for your young trees in polythene bags. There are such bags that are specially meant for use in nurseries. If you cannot find those you can always improvise and make do with any form of polythene bags, empty containers, and the like. In fact, whichever way is cost-saving is well worth exploring. I am sure you are already taking note of the things you will require.
Where applicable you will need necessary chemicals e.g. pesticides, fertilizers, and the like. This is because it is important to ensure the young trees are healthy and strong. You will need organic material for incorporation into the soil you will use to sow your seeds or place your young trees.
Depending on how you will set up your nursery area you will need certain structural components. You might need things like tables, slabs, fencing, general gardening handheld implements, shades, and so on.
You need not worry much here because not much labour is required here. Significant labour might be needed at the onset depending on the number of preparations that need to be done. The only sticky issue is that you need hands that are consistently available daily to do routine tasks. By routine tasks, I am referring to things like watering, weeding, general observations, cleaning, and so forth. The scale of production do vary but at the very least, one person can fully take care of a tree nursery. Thus it is possible to have oneself (with the aid of immediate family members) to manage a nursery. Alternatively, you can have a part-time labourer who from time to time comes in to care for the nursery.
Again, you do not need much in terms of capital. You can actually find seeds or young trees for absolutely free of charge. If you do buy, you will need really part with that much money. You find that the ultimate selling price of your young trees will factor in the period you cared for them i.e. things like labour and all. Otherwise, the actual money you would have put in would be quite low.
The market is there but it is quite segmented. You cannot just assume that mango trees will sell anywhere. You have got to conduct your research to know which trees sell and where exactly. You can strategically approach potential clients and enter agreements where you periodically supply them with trees. Potential clients like that could be academic institutions, landscaping companies, environmental or farming institutions, just to mention a few.
Important Things To Consider
This is a medium to long term business for the most part. Thus you do well to juggle it with other income-generating initiatives that have shorter turnaround periods. Do not think it is pointless to treat this like a professional business, no! Invest in having an online presence, business profile, IEC material, marketing material, and so on. Treat it like you would any other business. Another thing, do not ignore seeking professional help on knowledge about sowing seeds and taking care of young trees. It takes more than just sowing seeds, waiting for them to germinate, and then caring for them till they are bought. There is more to that as is the case with any agricultural initiative.
This is a great business to start given how low-cost and less hectic it is. You will have to plan your planting schedule in such a way that makes you have different batches at varying levels of growth. That way you never get to a time where you have nothing in your nursery at all. Remember also that nothing can stop you from including other crops or plants to broaden your product range. However, be wary to ensure there is no cross-contamination due to pest or disease-related issues.