Business Opportunities in the Agriculture Sector

Which One Is Right for You?

Business Opportunities in the Agriculture Sector - Image.jpg

Farming offers a broad range of business opportunities for keen entrepreneurs. This article highlights a diverse selection of viable businesses within the sector to help you make an informed choice about which one would be most suited to your business goals.

If you are thinking of buying a farm, read this and decide the option that is right for you.

Plant Nursery

Few businesses are as easy to start as growing and selling your own plants. However, you will need to research the market to develop a good business model and follow the best strategy.

The plant nursery business sustains a variety of business approaches and many successful owners specialise in one primary activity. You might choose to retail direct to customers and the public, or perhaps develop a wholesale business supplying other nurseries, garden centres or large township stores and supermarkets. 

Your location will probably determine what plants you grow and where they are marketed. Producing small plants means you can target people with limited garden space.

Fertiliser production or distribution

Fertilisers increase yields and so are essential for farmers wanting to maximise their profits from cropping activities. Fertiliser production itself requires extensive facilities and business investment, but a fertiliser distribution business is all about the logistics of getting the product to the retailers and/or direct to the farming customer. 

Fertiliser application rates in Africa are generally low compared to elsewhere in the world, so there is plenty of room for market expansion. The two most common fertilisers are urea (a cheap nitrogen source) and NPK (a blend of nitrogen, phosphate and potassium).

 Field crop farming

South Africa offers huge variations in climate and growing conditions, so it’s best to think of your field crops as summer crops followed by winter cereals. Those regions which enjoy summer rainfall are the best producers of summer crops such as groundnuts, maize, sorghum, soya beans and sunflower seeds.

The primary winter cereals grown are canola, malting barley and wheat. Though wheat is grown all over South Africa, with the benefit of winter rainfall, you’ll find the Western Cape is the largest regional producer. 

Vegetable farming

Vegetable farming is not just a matter of sowing some seeds and then waiting for perfect results. Each plant will require optimal conditions and there’s much to consider about crop management and harvesting if you want a good yield. There’s a lot of information available on the Internet, and if you can get it right, this is potentially a simple business which can be highly profitable.

Fish farming

Fish farming, or aquaculture, can include both freshwater and marine sites, and cover anything from producing high-value ornamental fish to fish for consumption as a reasonably priced, high-protein food source.

If you plan a freshwater fishery, you need to be aware of South Africa’s stringent water regulations and select your location accordingly – most probably the Limpopo, Mpumalanga Lowveld and Northern KwaZulu–Natal regions. 

In other respects, creating reservoirs, buying in stock, and feeding your growing fish is a very cost-effective operation. 

Leasing agricultural equipment 

There is lots of potential demand for the leasing of agricultural equipment in South Africa, but you will need to research the actual potential with great care. Mechanisation appeals to many farmers but is generally only viable where the agricultural producer wants to run a genuine commercial enterprise.

With that in mind, the challenge for you will be to identify the right customers and thus show your financial backers how you will convert interest and enthusiasm into a viable business.

Honey producing/ beekeeping

A beehive is one of the world’s most efficient factories. And your production workers may buzz around 90 000 kilometres visiting perhaps two million flowers just to create a 500ml jar of honey. All you have to do is to gather and market the golden nectar they produce.

Cheap commercial honey is generally mixed with a lot of sugar, so there is much demand for a purer product which is produced naturally. Bee management requires skills and knowledge but offers real rewards.

Agricultural consulting

If you are an agronomist or have broad agricultural knowledge and experience, you could consider a career in agricultural consulting. Your potential market would be not only those who plan to set up commercial enterprises and need your expertise, but also those wishing to grow crops for their own use.

If you have an understanding of how new technologies can be applied to benefit different farming sectors, your value as a knowledgeable consultant will be significantly enhanced.

By Bruce Hakutizwi, USA and International Accounts Director for www.BusinessesForSale.com, the world’s largest online marketplace for buying and selling small and medium size businesses.

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