As a firm specializing in market research and data analysis through surveys, feasibility studies, polls, among others, we hope to bring valuable insights through today’s article as we expand on the findings of a research we undertook which showed immense demand of horticultural products in Gaborone.
Horticulture as a subsector in Agriculture, is very important as it creates employment, investment opportunities and increases the agricultural sector contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) according to a paper published in the publicly available Journal of Economics and Social Policy (2012). We, as Data Collection and Analysis (DCA), undertook a research on the leafy products’ market in Gaborone sometime before the introduction of the ban on some vegetable products. The purpose of the research was to determine whether horticulture is a viable business venture in the capital city.
Demand is strong
Findings of the research indicated that whilst a number of leafy products are demanded by the market, the most sought-after and traded leafy products, in order of priority (high demand) are lettuce, parsley, spinach/rape, cabbage, and mint. The findings further revealed that other vegetables such as peppadews, chives, and basil are not highly demanded by both individuals and businesses as they are not commonly consumed by the public. Our research also revealed that retail shops, hotels and restaurants are the most common buyers of horticultural products. These businesses require such products almost on a daily basis and the absence of sufficient suppliers is a plus for anyone intending to venture into such business. In fact, some of the shops run short of supplies, in certain instances.
Other factors to consider
Whilst we have shown above that demand is strong as most of the buyers are businesses requiring such products on a daily basis, below are some other factors which need to be considered when venturing into the business. Vegetable production is a very labor-intensive enterprise that requires both dedication and skill to effectively undertake. Basic training in agronomic principles or experience in the same field is very crucial and some managerial skill is important and can enhance business competitiveness and viability. Access to finance is another important factor in the acquisition of farm equipment and inputs to effectively run a profitable vegetable project.
Most vegetables are perishable in nature and have a short shelf life. In addition, it is vital for a producer to conduct market research in order to establish potential customers, their preferences, pricing structures, nature of existing competition and needs-gap assessment. Without this kind of assessment, farmers grow the same vegetables at the same time leading to products flooding in the market. This ultimately drops the prices as the supply is higher than the demand in particular months and unfortunately, vegetables go to waste in the fields before they can even be harvested due to a lack of buyers.
Viable even before import ban
As stated above, the demand for horticultural products has always been strong even before the import ban which was recently placed by government to bolster local production of horticultural products. We also observed that horticultural products are fast-moving goods as almost every family demands these products on a daily basis.
Research is key
With the import ban in place for certain horticultural products, there is even a greater opportunity for local farmers to position themselves strategically in the market by knowing which vegetables to grow, when, for who, and at what price. This is where we, as market research specialists come in. The demand of the said products is, in our view, likely to continue to be bullish for as long as the suppliers are few, which is the current position.
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