Market gardening is a very old activity in Senegal. We date the appearance of the first market gardens in the Cape Verde region around 1837. Intended initially for self-consumption, it was above all a social activity of reunions at the village and inter-village levels. However, with the decline of cash crops such as groundnuts and cotton, market gardening is becoming a very important source of regular income, thanks in particular to a very strong urban demand for fresh vegetables.
Thus, with the scarcity of stable jobs in Senegal and the increase in the unemployment rate, investing in this buoyant sector has become more than a necessity. However, to get there and hope to make a profit, several conditions must be met. Today we share with you 8 tips essential for a secure investment in market gardening in Senegal.
Tip N°1: Have a plot (of land)
As is often said, land is the first input for developing a market gardening activity. It is therefore essential to acquire land as a market garden perimeter. This plot must be available and guaranteed for the long term. Investments made on certain perimeters (planing, canals, structures, basins, etc.) require that a guarantee of the continuity of the activity be provided. We will also be interested in the situation of the plot in relation to the dwellings, its accessibility, its permanent availability (case of flood-prone plots), the quality of the soil, the natural protection. It must also be adapted to the type of market gardening desired.
Tip N°2: Have a source of water
This source of water can of course be a well, a borehole, a fountain, a river, a pond… It must be ensured that this water is of good quality (potable), sufficient and permanent. Generally, there is no shortage of land, but the availability of water next to the perimeter is a determining factor for a market gardening investment project. It can limit the cultivated area if the amount of water available daily is low. It can also determine the production period if water is not available all year round.
Tip N°3: Have adequate equipment
In addition to these two aspects mentioned above, it is necessary to have other assets such as material goods, in particular motor pumps, wire mesh and an irrigation system (drip, sprinkler, Californian, etc.). ).
Tip N° 4: Think about the irrigation method
To bring water to the plant, there are several methods to do. Each of these methods has advantages and disadvantages and can be adapted to specific contexts:
- The manual watering can: depending on the availability of water, this technique is suitable for small areas. But it can become tedious and require a lot of human resources (men, women, children, etc.)
- Gravity irrigation: It is only possible if you have a large water point (river, pond) and a high-flow pumping system.
- sprinkling: the plants receive water in the form of rain thanks to rotating sprinklers fed by buried pipes and a motor pump. This method is efficient, requires little labor, suitable for individual growers, but quite expensive.
- The drip: very economical in terms of water and labour, it does, however, require great technical skills from its user. This method is especially recommended for high-performance market gardeners with promising outlets for products with high added value.
Tip N°5: Make sure you have a qualified human resource
Like any economic activity, market gardening also requires a certain skill (experience in market gardening) and qualified human resources (motor pump mechanic, technician in phyto products, graduates in horticultural production, salespeople, etc.).
Tip No. 6: Make sure you have a good financial base
Before starting any campaign, it is necessary to budget well and know the available resources at your disposal in order to anticipate possible financial problems.
In addition, any market gardening tool entails considerable costs for its own operation, such as the purchase of seeds, fertilizer or fencing.
Tip N° 7: Think about the acquisition of inputs
The acquisition of inputs (manure, seeds, fertiliser, phytosanitary products, diesel, etc.) is an important step in a market gardening project. Indeed, quality production necessarily requires quality seeds. Also the maintenance of soil fertility is an essential element in the success of a market gardening project. Also, vegetable crops are very susceptible to many diseases, so it is advisable to make use of treatment products.
Tip N° 8: Define your sales channel beforehand
Before starting any production, you must first define your sales channel. Indeed, the choice of distribution channels determines the range of vegetables to be produced but also part of the organization of work on the plot:
- In the market garden area: provide a sales room;
- Outside the farm: sale to intermediaries (wholesalers and semi-wholesalers who will in turn sell to retailers on the market), sale by internet, sale on markets directly, etc. ;
Like any investment, investing in market gardening will therefore require the combination of production, acquisition and commercial prospecting activities, etc. Good time management is therefore essential.
Here are a few tips :
- Knowing how to set your limits (rest, etc.),
- Anticipate before the installation phase,
- Save time by streamlining operations,
- Invest in suitable equipment,
- Analyze and optimize sales to reduce time spent outdoors,
- Optimize the range to increase in power,
- Know how to work collectively if necessary,
- Plan at least 1 to 2 weeks per year away from your plot to perfect your skills and knowledge through training, meetings, etc. Essential moments to take a step back.