This post will cover the basic details you need to start your own cucumber farming business as soon as possible.
There is a reason I’m so excited about the prospects of cultivating and selling cucumbers – the profitability of this agriculture business venture is never in question. Of all the agriculture business ideas, cucumber farming is among the most untapped and largely lucrative.
Cucumbers are rich in fiber and micro-nutrients much-needed by the body, from Vitamins to sodium, potassium and manganese. They are the 24th most produced food in the world.
As an entrepreneur you are probably asking how much is in cucumber farming for the making, right? So, this guy made N2 million in 3 months sometime in May, 2015, planting cucumbers. You should check out his interview with The Guardian for some perspective on cucumber farming.
A farm like mine costs about N600,000 per hectare. If one is planting cucumbers, from a hectare, you should make nothing less than N2 million in three months.
That is if it is done right. It has been achieved by a lot of people I have consulted for here in Nigeria. It boils down to understanding what to do. (Read full interview)
You may not have N600,000 but this post will show you how to start a small-scale cucumber farm so that you will get some basic knowledge, start your own cucumber farm and scale up when you understand the process.
Why should you invest in cucumber farming?
There are several good reasons cucumbers have become popular in recent years. This popularity drives the very high consumption rate of cucumbers, which pushes up its demand. All this translates to high profit for the entrepreneur who invests in cucumber farming because the market is very big and ever-present.
The most important reason more people eat cucumbers is their very many health benefits. The intake of this vegetable promotes good health, helps the skin fight the effects of aging, and supports the digestive system.
Cucumbers are useful for weight control, stress management, and they produce rich anti-oxidants which help body cells combat diseases. To understand the health benefits of cucumbers, here is an article on Huffington Post.
Entrepreneurs, too, have a lot to gain from investing in cucumber farming. Cucumber farming is a very lucrative venture in Nigeria at the moment.
Every serious investor should be encouraged to join cucumber farming. The reasons are quite obvious: readily available market all year round, waiting buyers willing to buy your farm produce even before harvest, a large pool of affordable labor willing and waiting for opportunities to earn a living from your business, and it goes on and on.
How to start cucumber farming
Cucumber farming does not require any special farming skills. Cucumbers are low-maintenance, high-yielding plants once you follow good farming practice. Cucumbers are special plants; they need certain conditions to produce to the farmer’s satisfaction.
This is why you must pay attention to this post and commit yourself to getting every bit of useful information you can before you set out to farm. We will start with one of the most important components of a good cucumber farm – land.
Land Acquisition and preparation
On fertile, organically enriched soil, cucumbers grow quite well. It is very easy to grow cucumbers when the soil conditions are suitable. This is why you must make sure to pick a good land which has rich soil texture and gets plenty of sunlight.
Unlike other plants, you cannot cultivate cucumbers anywhere you see land. Cucumbers need sufficient sunlight, water and best soil conditions.
Cucumbers are over 90% water so when you buy or lease a farmland, water should be a priority. Without enough water, your cucumber farming venture is dead on arrival. You cannot depend on rainfall as your source of water because it could be insufficient.
So how do you get good land with access to sufficient water and sunlight? One option is to site your farm close to a waterbed. This is by far your best option.
The alternative is to get land wherever you can and either dig a water-well, sink a bore hole or construct irrigation dams. The cost of setting this up alone could cripple your business especially as a beginner.
When you get a piece land with enough water supply, you can go ahead with land preparation activities like clearing, fertilizer application and ridging.
I should emphasize that after clearing your land, you should apply organic fertilizer (compost) to further enrich the soil. Also mulch the land to keep its water and nutrients.
Growing cucumbers (seed planting)
Apart from sufficient sunlight, water and soil conditions, the next most important factor that will determine how successful your cucumber farming business will be is the variety of seed you plant.
There are different varieties of cucumber and the type you choose will decide the type of harvest you should harvest. So how do you get the best variety?
You remember the guy I told you about at the beginning of this post? The one who makes millions planting cucumbers? He listed 3 important questions to ask when you buy cucumber seeds:
Is it a local or a foreign seed?
Is it an open or a closed seed?
Are the seeds general or hybrid?
These and more are the things you find out before ever purchasing seed for planting. Some seeds can produce 1 tonne of cucumber per hectare each harvest, others can produce 500 kg, 200 kg, even as low as 50 kg. And some can produce up to 2-3 tonnes. (Read full story)
When you plant the seeds, make sure the soil is cool and moist. This is important because excess heat from the sun damages the seeds and makes the cucumber bitter. One thing you don’t want is to grow bitter cucumbers.
The seeds should be sown spaced 18 to 36 inches (45 to 90 cm). This spacing should be applied regardless of the variety of seed.
Depending on variety and size of the fruit, one cucumber plant will typically bear 10 to 20 fruits. To harvest cucumber fruits, you simply use scissors to cut the fruits leaving a short stub attached. Once you harvest, lightly clean and store cucumbers right away.
It is best to pick cucumber fruits the moment they reach picking size.
I would recommend you contact cucumber sellers before the fruits reach picking size. This is to prevent loss due to damage. If you would like to sell your produce by yourself then, the moment you harvest, you clean up the cucumber fruits and convey them the market.
The market is huge. The only loss you could incur could be as a result of damage or bitter fruits.
What makes cucumbers bitter? How do you prevent bitter fruits?
As I said earlier, you don’t want to harvest bitter cucumbers; no one would buy them once they know of the bitter taste. Some of the common causes of bitter cucumbers are:
- Insufficient water supply
- Excessive heat
- Uneven temperature
The only way to avoid bitter cucumbers is to avoid the causes in the first place. Make sure the soil, weather and atmospheric conditions are all met as you go ahead.
Once cucumbers turn bitter, they usually continue that way. If this happens, your best option is to clear out that batch of plants, correct the planting conditions and start over.
About the business plan
A business plan is an important document to have as an entrepreneur, not only to document your plans but to secure funding for business expansion. This free online course will teach you everything you need to know about writing your own business plan. It follows a step-by-step approach so you won’t miss anything.
As an entrepreneur, the first thing you should do is to start a small-scale cucumber farm. You can use a small space of land where you can implement every information you have gathered about the business. This allows you to learn what works and understand the process without committing huge sums of money at first.
When you understand the process, you can scale-up your business.
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Do you have a cucumber farm already or reaping from its benefits, why not share your experience with us in the comment box.