Agric Plans South Africa

Agric Plan Writing for SA.




Potatoes are recognized as an important foodstuff worldwide and is seen as a key component in the worldwide fight against hunger and malnutrition and the creation of food security. Potatoes are packed with vitamin B3, B5, B6, C and fibre. They are ranked after rice, wheat and maize as the world’s 4th largest food crop.


Mid August to mid October (depending on the area) is the ideal time to plant sprouted potatoes in the open ground. Late varieties can be planted during December. Plant main crop potatoes about 35cm apart, in rows which are 75cm apart. Where you are planting more than one row, the rows should (ideally) run from North to South to allow each plant its full share of sun.


Frost damage is the first concern during the early stages. If shoots emerge above the soil level and frost threatens, draw a little soil from the bed edges over them. After the plants have grown to about 20cm, rake up some soil from in between the rows and cover the plants with it, leaving only a few cm of the top of the plant still showing. Repeat this exercise again in 2-3 weeks time.

During the growing season, ensure that the weeds are removed regularly. A month or so after planting, the dense foliage of the plant should then block out sufficient light to deter all but the most vigorous weeds.

Harvesting & Storage

Potatoes are ready for harvest when the foliage first starts to die and turn yellow. Early (new) potatoes can be lifted earlier to get the very tastiest potatoes. In this case, harvest them about a week after the potato plant flowers first appear. New potatoes only produce a couple of handfuls of potatoes per plant, so dig up the whole plant.

If you don’t need all the potatoes from a plant at one time or if you want a few early in the season, simply burrow around the roots with your hands and remove the potatoes you need. The remaining potatoes will continue to grow. Store potatoes in boxes or sacks, checking them every few days, removing all but those in good condition. Damaged or blemished potatoes should be eaten immediately. 


Onions are part of the Allium family which also includes garlic and shallots. They are grown world-wide and form an important part of many national diets. Onions have been cultivated since ancient times and are a commercially significant crop on all continents.

Although onions are essentially a cool season crop and in South Africa they are planted virtually all year round. In the Northern regions of the country sowing is normally from February to April. In the Central region from April to July and the Southern regions transplanted from July to October.

Soil Preparation

It is essential that soil is well-prepared for an onion crop. It should be loose to a depth of at least 75cm and if heavy rain is expected in the early stages of growth, raised beds will reduce the effect of any water-logging. Where seed is to be direct-sown a fine even seed bed is vital in order to produce an acceptable stand.


The soil profile should be wet to a depth of 50-60cm. The amount of water applied will vary according to soil type, irrigation system temperature and growth stage of the crop. Many growers now make use of monitoring systems in order to make the best use of available water. Dry-land production of onions is not recommended.

Harvesting & Marketing

Once the onions have fallen they are lifted and left to dry in windrows or heaps until cured. The curing process allows for development of scale leaf color and firming of the bulbs. The bulbs are then either cleaned by hand or machine and sized, sorted, graded, and packed. Most onions are marketed in 7 or 10kg bags through municipal or other markets. A medium size bulb is preferred but there is also demand for smaller and larger bulb sizes. The largest demand in South Africa is for yellow or brown onions but there is a small market for red and pink varieties.

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HYDROPONIC CROP PRODUCTION – Tomatoes, Capsicums, Cucumbers, Lettuce.



Tomatoes are one of the major food crops of the Western world, yet breeders are still trying to improve the fruit’s disease resistance, shape flavor and color. The tomato is a member of the Solanaceae family which also includes peppers, capsicums, eggplants, potatoes and tobacco. While many consider the tomato to be a vegetable, it is in fact a berry fruit. There are many varieties and they are used in many different ways. Some are eaten fresh in salads, others used in cooking. Some varieties are firm and have a large amount of fiber (i.e. they have a low solids content). Firm varieties are preferred for salads and sandwiches. Hence selection of the correct variety is important.

When deciding to start growing tomatoes commercially it is very important to find out what your market wants. If you are seeking to establish a new market then you should do some research into the market size. It is also important to produce quality fruit. The tomatoes should have a uniform color, and fruit showing uneven or blotchy areas should be discarded, as well as bruised, split or misshapen fruit.


It is very important to establish the market you are intending to sell to and then produce for that market. While the grower may be proud to produce large prize-winning tomatoes, the normal consumer buys tomatoes that are 65 to 75 mm diameter and weigh 120 to 150 grams. Tomato varieties can be placed in four main categories according to their method of production and market use:

  1. Canning tomatoes.                                                

  2. Greenhouse tomatoes.

  3. Outdoor tomatoes.

  4. Specialty tomatoes. 


Plants should not be crowded. Close planting tends to favor leaf diseases and development of smaller fruit. At the same time there must be room to work along the rows and the plants open enough to allow light to penetrate and air to move through the plants. The optimum space per plant is between three and four plants per sq. metre of growing area, and if rows are 30cm wide then the spacing per plant is 45cm or 23,000 plants per hectare with aisle widths of 900 mm in the greenhouse. The density of planting may be increased in spring to give 30,000 plants per hectare of shed.

Fruit Development

Fruit color development is also temperature sensitive, the best red color forms when the average daily temperatures are 18degrees C to 24degrees C. Yellowness increases as temperatures rises above 26 – 29 degrees C. If the temperature rises above 40degrees C, the mechanism for producing the red pigment is destroyed. The affected areas on these fruit are yellow or sun burnt. When the fruit is maturing it is best to reduce the amount of watering to minimize leaf spot damage, as well as fruit damage such as star cracks. Restricting watering also helps to improve the fruits’ keeping qualities.


All produce should be suitably mature when harvested. Maturity must not be confused with ripeness. Maturation can only take place on the vine, whereas ripening (fruit softening and color development) can continue on or off the vine.During vine ripening, sugars, acids and other flavors move into the fruit and the texture is improved. Tomatoes are ready for harvesting about three months after they are transplanted. Optimal color development for tomatoes occurs between 15 – 21 degrees C.

Tomatoes are harvested for the local market at the “breaker” stage which is when the blossom end shows a pink coloring. If you are supplying distant markets the fruit should be green but mature, i.e. the seeds will be fully developed and surrounded by jelly-like flesh that has just started to color, and the fruit surface is a light green color. In warmer weather fruit will need to be picked about two to three times per week; under cooler conditions fruit my be picked less frequently. The stems should be trimmed flush with the top of the fruit to prevent bruising during storage and transit.


Capsicums also called “peppers and chilies” are a rich source of Vitamin C and Vitamin A. Green capsicums and red chilies have very high levels of Vitamin A; red capsicums are very high in ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). They are a warm season vegetable, requiring a relatively long frost-free growing period for maximum production and perfect for growing in a “tunnel farming” type of operation.


During the last ten years continental cucumbers have grown in acceptance from being a novelty vegetable to a major vegetable crop in a number of areas. They are ideal for tunnel farming type of operations. The techniques used for hydroponic cucumber production often involve a poly-house – tunnel. This will protects the plants from rain, wind, hail, extreme temperatures etc.


Lettuce is an indispensable part of most salads. It is a summer flowering plant which produces vegetative growth in the cooler months and flowers under conditions of long, warm days. In hot dry weather or when the plant is under stress the plant is inclined to run to seed. The gap between peak maturity and starting to run to seed may be as soon as one week. It is therefore very important to know exactly when to harvest to achieve high quality, well-developed lettuce. We can help in various aspects of setting up a profitable farming operation including farming plans, farming marketing plans etc.


The major factors that influence plant growth are the interaction of the plants genetic makeup and the environment. The grower has very little control over the genetics of the plant but he can exercise some control over the environment. Most growers show no originality when looking to provide protection to their crops. They tend to move from growing outdoors without any protection to poly-houses which fully enclose their crop.


The first stage in protecting crops is the use of a windbreak. The material used should allow air to pass through it and simply reduce the velocity of the wind. The barrier must be high enough and strong enough to do its job effectively. Many lettuce growers build windbreaks 7m or more in height, using commercial wind break fabric meshing. Other growers plant trees and bushes to reduce the effects of the prevailing winds.

Rain and Hail

Thew next stage is providing protection from rain and hail. This allows the grower to work with a degree of comfort and at the same time prevents the nutrient solution from being diluted or changed, resulting in crop damage. Many lettuce growers have installed clear plastic covers 5-6 metres above the crops, in the form of a pitched roof.

Temperature Control

In areas where frosts or low temperatures occur, full enclosures such as poly-houses (tunnels)  can be used to help maintain better growing temperatures. However, a problem with poly – houses is that humidity tends to increase and fungal diseases may be encouraged. Moisture condensation inside the poly-house can also lead to water droplets falling on the plants, particularly flowers, as soon as the shed starts to warm up in the morning.


HYDROPONIC CROP PRODUCTION – Tomatoes, Capsicums, Cucumbers, Lettuce. Read More »

LAND & PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT: How to get involved.



Before you invest in a piece of land, look carefully at the total expenditure you will be incurring and assess your financial requirements. These go beyond the simple purchase price of the land: there will be other costs like transfer fees, legal costs and many other items that will inflate the capital sum needed.

Purchasing the Land:

The first item of mayor expense is the land itself. Before making an “offer to purchase” investigate the prices obtained in recent sales in the same area and compare them with the amounts that sellers were originally asking. Do not base your assessment of the land on the official municipal valuation, as this is used only for purposes of estimating rates and taxes and has no bearing on the actual market value. 


The majority of people in South Africa are located in the rural areas, and the majority of them being women and children. Women, especially those in the rural areas, are marginalized in the development process regardless of the new focus on women in development literature. Most women are not involved in the decision-making process, and the few that are involved only appear at the implementation stage where there is need for manpower. Development projects which are geared towards poverty alleviation are planned by men for men and women are very seldom in the planning stage. Women are therefore objects and not subjects of the development process. Most policy makers are not gender sensitive and women often find themselves left behind.

Rural Development projects also seem to be devoid of the attention to local needs and local preferences are therefore sometimes irrelevant. Many rural development projects do not achieve their intended objectives and others even produce unwanted results and perpetuate the existing socio-economic bottlenecks experienced in the rural areas. It is believed that rural development projects will not reach their intended objectives if women continue to be marginalized.


What often intimidates the first-time owner/builder is the very thought of taking the first step and taking sole responsibility for all major projects. But you will not be alone: you will need to assemble a team and work closely with it over a period of time. This is the real challenge. As the head of that team you will have to organize, co-ordinate, control, motivate and, ultimately, success will depend on your personal leadership qualities. Whatever activities you get involved with, some of the basic guidelines that apply are:-

  • Prepare or ask a “professional consultant” to prepare a proper business plan that will also include a strong financial plan.
  • Be realistic in terms of what you can afford.
  • Plan all your projects in as much detail as possible.
  • Do not begin construction work until the land has been registered in your name and the building plans have been approved.
  • Undertake a thorough cost analysis, or have a computer costing prepared before you start ordering material and building.
  • Supervise the construction work closely, or have an experienced person (i.e. project manager) do this on your behalf.
  • Be careful not to overpay for work done, or to pay for work that has not been started.

Construction Schedule

A detailed schedule will help you to plan – indeed, it is essential to – the administration and execution of the planned projects. The more thoroughly and accurately the program is drawn up, the better the chance of minimizing delays. Among the specific advantages of the schedule are that it:-

  • Makes you think the job through in a logical manner;
  • Helps you schedule the ordering and delivering of materials;
  • Helps you co-ordinate labor, subcontractors, plant hire etc.

Order of Work

Begin by listing all the major stages in the entire program, as follows:-

  1. Procurement of the land.
  2. Obtaining sketch plans.
  3. Obtaining detailed drawings & approval.
  4. Making finance arrangements.
  5. Construction.
  6. Fencing, garden etc.

The construction phase will thereafter have to be broken up into various segments, in enough detail to enable you to co-ordinate the work effectively. The precise sequence will differ slightly from project to project according to individual needs and circumstances. Consider having the schedule drawn up with the aid of a computer, using either the Critical Path Method (CPM) or the Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT). These programs will calculate the “critical path” and identify the critical activities on this path.


Remodeling and renovation of old homes could be another option but can be expensive and time consuming, but with some perseverance and patience it can be done. If you interested in following this route keep the following in mind:-

  • Dream. – Dream simple, recognize your needs and estimate the simplest solution.
  • Research – Go to the library/ local bookshop and look at magazines appropriate to your needs.
  • Hire an Architect.
  • Knew your strengths – and your limitations.
  • Don’t delay decisions.
  • Don’t change your mind (too much).
  • Think “restore” not “redo


There is now an expanding market for private, comfortable off-campus student residences. These offer state-of-the-art facilities such as WIFI, Internet access, laundry, gym and entertainment lounge. Thousands of students registered at higher education institutions search for such accommodation to reside for the duration of their studies but can’t find them. The demand for student accommodation with the right facilities in the right areas still outstrip supply.

Key Factors

Before investing in a student housing property certain key factors should be taken into consideration. It is very important to properly evaluate students’ day-to-day essential requirements. Key factors to consider are:-

  • Location –   Students prefer accommodation that are not too far away from campus.
  • Accessibility – Most students do not own cars and rely on public transport to get around. The property where they reside, therefore, needs to be close to main routes for access to public transport.
  • Security – A secure property is of utmost importance so that students can be assured of a safe environment.
  • Maintenance – Regular maintenance is vital and it is therefore better to have a full-time caretaker on site to handle any minor issues.
  • Other Features – Going the extra mile to ensure tenants are taken good care of is critical as this goes a long way towards ensuring that good tenants renew their lease.

If you are going to need funding for your project it is always better to obtain the services from a “professional business plan consultant” to ensure that your chances in getting finance are much better.

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