What is Small-Scale Farming?
A smallholding or smallholder is a small farm operating under a small-scale agriculture model.
Definitions vary widely for what constitutes a smallholder or small-scale farm, including factors such as size, food production technique or technology, involvement of family in labor, and economic impact.
Small-Scale Farming Ideas In South Africa
1. Fast-growing produce
According to Farming South Africa, these are the most promising produce you should plant for fast and profitable returns:
- Radishes take only 25 days to grow, so if you have a market for radishes, you can start making money fast.
- Baby carrots can be harvested in just 30 days and you can sell them to restaurants as they are not always available in supermarkets.
- Squash is another fast grower. Be ready to sell for profit in only 70 days.
- Cucumbers are fast growers too and also very profitable to farm with. You can start harvesting in just 50 days.
- Bush beans are ready to be harvested for 40 days and are good to sell to markets and shops.
Chickens are considered multipurpose animals because they are a great source of eggs, meat, and fertilizer. Farming South Africa lists the following livestock options for farmers who want a quick profit after investing in their farming enterprise:
- Broiler chickens grow fast. You can start selling them after just five weeks and make some profit.
- Layer chickens take longer to grow and to start producing eggs, but you can buy young layers and start making a profit in a short period.
Rabbits are fast growers and low maintenance. If you find a market for rabbits you can potentially quadruple your investment in just four months, according to Farming South Africa.
However, be very sure to identify a market before you start breeding rabbits. The market has been under a bit of pressure last year.
There are many options for housing rabbits that can cost as little or as much as you choose, and they can be fed either store-bought rabbit food or extra veggies from the garden, weeds and grass clippings, and hay. Rabbits are also great for your garden.
4. Pig farming
Pigs have a bad reputation for smell and messiness. In reality, pigs are clean farm animals. If you have the land available to allow them to free range, then your feeding expense will be a lot lower. They eat compost, corn, other grains, milk, bread, fodder, and practically anything else you feed them.
According to Hobby Farms, pigs are animals that grow your initial investment a lot, but they need time to grow. Speed up the process by buying piglets and start making profit in just four months.
5. Mushroom farming
Profitable Ventures suggest that the untapped potential of fungi is phenomenal. This venture has a steep learning curve, but that is true for most farming start-ups.
If you have a clean space in your home, you can start your own mushroom farming business today and start selling mushrooms to markets and pharmaceutical companies in the next 21 days.
6. Beekeeping and honey production
his idea is for those who have time and large space to spare. The demand of pure honey is evergreen, so this farming business idea is perfect for the new year.
Farmer Craig Campbell of Hilton, KwaZulu-Natal, advises aspiring beekeepers to join a local beekeepers’ association and learn more about the industry from experienced beekeepers. He suggests that newcomers either start small and grow as they gain experience, or first work for a commercial apiarist until they have enough experience to go out on their own.
7. Urban agriculture
If you don’t have access to land, and you live in the city, urban agriculture may be the right choice for you. Urban agriculture is a buzzword these days with the influx of people in cities, and there is a lot of information out there on how to utilise a small space for optimal yields.
According to Small Business Ventures herbs like basil, parsley, and mint can make for great agricultural products in an urban farm setting. You can take your produce and sell it at local farmers’ markets to earn an income.
Speaking of urban farming and small spaces, microgreens require only a small piece of land or potting soil, so they can be a good choice for your farming business. Farmers Weekly refers to them as the tiniest crops with the biggest returns.
Microgreens are young vegetables or baby plants that are around 10 to 14 days old. They are the small edible vegetables that restaurants use as garnishing for a dish or serve in a salad. You’ll find that they’re in high demand. Customers like their visual appeal and health benefits. Beginner farmers should consider this business as microgreens are easy to grow, turnaround time is high, and it requires little investment to start.
Note, though, that micro-greens have to be sold fresh, so make sure you have a market before starting your micro-green enterprise. Look for high-end restaurants that boast local and healthy food to partner with them.
What is the most profitable crop for small farms in South Africa?
The top seven most profitable crops in South Africa are fast-growing crops such as baby carrots, lettuce, radishes, cucumber, squash, bush beans, and microgreens.
These crops are grown only for a short period, can be easily harvested, and therefore have a promising profit return.