By DERRICK SILIMINA
Vegetables are the cheapest source of essential minerals and vitamins and for a long time have remained a popular ingredient in Zambian sauces, soups and stews.
Nonetheless, vegetable farming is one of the little-touted ventures in agriculture, but if well nurtured can offer truly amazing business opportunities.
For this reason, Roger Musemvu, 42, is among many entrepreneurs from North-Western Province who are taking advantage of the large demand for vegetables in Solwezi’s bustling city markets.
Musemvu is one of the devoted farmers of Solwezi’s Kimale area who in 2018 started cultivating carrots on a half lima piece of land, and green maize on a half lima.
He spent K1,200 on procuring inputs such as seed, fertilizer and an additional K1,500 on fuel for his generator which facilitated irrigation to kickstart his horticultural project.
After harvest, he sold his products and raised K5000 from carrots alongside K2,800 from maize.
In a bid to sharpen his horticultural skills, Musemvu enrolled for the free monthly business development training programme funded by Kansanshi Mine Limited and executed by Fortune World Investment limited (FWIL) in the district.
“With topics such as time and record management, which I grasped from the business training, I learned to spend my time productively as I have no idle time any more. For me, time spent in the field is money.”
Having completed the training in December 2018, Musemvu’s work culture has transformed positively as he is on his garden from morning to evening every day.
With his records management skills learned from the training, he is able to keep records such as sales, expenses as well as profit and loss accounts.
“Thank you to the KMP management for the training. I urge them to continue and extend their business empowerment programme to others as this is entrepreneurship training is changing many lives in the district,” he notes.
Recently, FWIL Managing Director Mukumbi Kafuta paid Musemvu a mentorship visit to ascertain progress made thus far and was impressed that he has continued with farming and has currently invested in cabbages and tomatoes, using water from a nearby stream and a Genset for irrigation.
With an investment of K3,490 into cabbage production, Musemvu is proud now that heads are selling at between K7 and K10 per head, depending on size.
“I expect to make about K36,000 from the venture by the time all my cabbages are sold,” Musemvu states.
He has equally invested K1,824 into tomato production and has cultivated more than 800 plants of tomato, which are already being harvested.
Musemvu plans to expand further into planting other crops to expand his niche in the sector.
With one box of tomato fetching an average price of K200 at a local market, the farmer has so far cashed in about K16,800 as per day. He harvests three boxes of tomatoes, has already been harvesting for a month.
Having tested how profitable the horticultural industry is, Musemvu is positioning himself for rapid growth as he is now planning to acquire a bigger piece of land where gardening activities will be expanded and will comprise cabbage, carrots, egg plants, tomato and green maize among others.
On the other hand, he has also planted a nursery of fruits such as oranges, avocado, and bananas.
Musemvu has not yet registered his business, but intends to do so in January 2022.
“I have so far acquired five hectares of land specifically for fruits in Solwezi’s Lwamakanda area where I will transplant one hectare of oranges, one Lima of avocado and one Lima of bananas.”