A simple guide on commercial potato farming business in Kenya
Potato farming business has lucrative returns. Many people are making money all over the world by farming potatoes. However, to build a successful, sustainable potato farming business, you require sufficient knowledge of how to efficiently grow the potatoes, good management skills, and a good potato farming business plan.
Potato farming is a lucrative business, providing income for millions of people, but there are some essential things you need to do before you venture into the business. You have to make a decision on how many hectares you want to farm, which type of potatoes you will farm, which season you are going to plant your potatoes, and your target market.. These choices will be affected by the amount of capital you have, and the size of your target market. If you do not have a lot of capital, you can always start small and grow your potato farming business overtime. You also need to carry out market research (Who are you going to sell the potatoes to? At what price?) and write a potato business plan before you venture into the business.
Land for Potato Farming Business
Good potato production starts with good land selection. Potatoes can be grown in a variety of soil types, however alkaline soils and saline soils are not a good fit for potato farming. The land should also have the right soil structure.
A good structure allows good water infiltration into the soil and water drainage through the soil, exchange of gases in and out of the soil, and optimal root development. Loose soils are good for potato farming business because they offer the least resistance to enlargement of the tubers. The most suitable soil types are loamy and sandy loam soils that are rich in organic matter, with good drainage and aeration.
Another factor to consider is the pH of the soil, as it should be ideally in the range of 5.2-6.4 to enable the optimum growth of the potatoes. You will encounter problems with common scab if you plant potatoes in soils with high pH. If your farm your potatoes in soils with lower pH than the recommended range,the potatoes will produce poor quality tubers and will have abnormal growth. Thus before you start farming potatoes on your farm its essential that you check whether the soil is suitable for potato farming. Potato farming also involves extensive ground preparation. The soil needs to be harrowed until completely free of weed roots. Y
our business plan for potato production should take into account the cost of purchasing or renting the land.
Machinery and Equipment
Machinery and equipment which are required for your potato farming business will depend on the scale of your operations. Machinery and equipment needed include tractors, harvesters, boom sprayers, fertilizer spreader equipment, irrigation equipment, spray equipment, diggers, scales, ridgers, bins etc.
Most farmers usually hire big machinery like tractors when they want to use them, rather than purchasing them as they are expensive. There may also be need of grid hydroelectricity energy for the irrigation systems, standby diesel generators for use during power outages, or solar powered irrigation systems. Farmers especially in the rural areas who do not have the modern farming equipment use animal drawn equipment in potato farming.
The higher the level of mechanization at your potato farm, the higher the efficiency of your operations, and the profitability of your potato farming business. The potato farming business plan should include the costs of acquiring and hiring the various machinery and equipment.
You require various farming inputs when farming potatoes. One of the obvious requirements is the potato seed. There are many varieties of potato cultivars which are used in different parts of the world. The potato cultivars differ in colour, shape, yield, texture and time to maturity. Your choice of which potato cultivar to use in your potato farming business will be determined by availability of the seeds, the yield of the seeds, the resistance to diseases of the potato seeds, and your target market.
It is important that you purchase your potato seeds from certified potato seed suppliers. If you buy poor quality potato seeds, your potatoes will not grow to their full potential and you will have poor yields. Potatoes take 14-20 weeks to mature depending on their type. The cost of acquiring potato seeds should be included in your potato business plan.
Other farming inputs required for potato farming business include herbicides, for effective weed control at your farm. Pesticides and fungicides are required for protecting your potato plants against insects and fungi. Fertilizers are required to support the efficient growth of your potatoes, by providing all the nutrients needed by potatoes to grow to their full potential. The costs of acquiring all these inputs should be included in your potato farming business plan.
When doing potato farming business, you will need to hire part time farm workers as and when necessary. The duties which they will do include line marking; sprouting; ploughing; planting; grading and packing; reredging; top dressing; discing ; herbiciding and pesticiding.
The part time farm workers will be paid according to the number of days worked. You also require supervisors, farm manager, finance & accounting staff, and logistics staff depending on the scale of your potato farming business. The wages and salaries of your workers should be included in your potato farming business plan.
Capital for Potato Farming Business
The amount of capital required for potato farming business depends on the scale of the project. You can get a loan from the bank, or funding from investors, to use as capital to start your potato farming business. If you plan to raise capital from investors and a loan from the bank, you need a good potato farming business plan. If you don’t have access to investors and bank loan, you can use your personal savings and start small, and grow your business overtime.
Potato farming is very profitable, so if you reinvest the profits you get, you can quickly grow. Even if you are not planning to get a loan, you should still get a potato farming business plan to guide you in starting and operating the business. It is essential for you to have a potato farming business plan before you venture into the potato farming business, so that you know all the costs involved and you make an informed decision.
The market for potatoes is very huge and is ever increasing. The annual global demand of potatoes is 390 million tonnes. That’s a lot! You can supply your potatoes to individual households, schools, restaurants, hotels, companies, supermarkets, organizations, events etc. The potato business plan ought to include a proper marketing plan to use in your potato farming business.
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