If you are a passionate about farming crops that are for the long haul then cotton farming is for you. What do we mean by long haul? Cotton takes on average one year to reach maturity so you have got to be the patient farmer. Cotton is essentially a cash crop and is mainly used for clothing material but there is more. The seeds are also rich in cotton seed oil which can be extracted from them. The demand for cotton never wanes because the need for cotton products is always there. In this article we discuss the pertinent things you need to know about starting a cotton farming business.
Key Requirements And Components
If you dwell in a region characterised by hot weather then good for you because that is the optimum environment for cotton. Cotton thrives really well in hot weather which in essence goes a long way in reducing crop maintenance costs. For instance, very limited amounts of water are needed. Growing cotton definitely requires a significant amount of land if you are to realize big yields. The land issue entails something that you must carefully consider before starting this business. Remember we have alluded to the fact that it takes one year for cotton to mature. This means you must have uninterrupted ownership of whatever piece of land you will be using.
If you have sole ownership of the land then that is most expedient. Alternatively, you can strike up lease agreements but ensure they are legit and binding. Expert advice on leases for cotton farming suggests that lease agreements must be 10 or more years long. This gives you enough time to oversee your land and farm your cotton without always standing on your toes. Another factor that calls for leases to be very long is crop rotation. It is advised that crop rotation must be exercised in order to revitalize the soil since a whole year elapses with just one crop in it. So, tentatively, a 10-year lease can translate into an effective 5 years where you will have the cotton crop on the land.
Land preparation e.g. cultivation, incorporating manure and so on are crucially important. Due to the large size of the land it is important to use mechanical equipment as opposed to hand held implements. Get your seeds from reputable sources; desist for getting seeds from just anywhere – one year is too long a period to end up realizing low or poor quality yields. Seed source and selection can be the sole reason you will get a bumper harvest. Due to advancements in genetics and biotechnology it is now possible to get bio-engineered seeds with superior qualities that withstand pests and disease attacks. Using organic seeds is also another way to lead towards favourable harvests.
Be on the lookout for weeds and pests which can decimate your ultimate yields. Work with other established farmers and professionals to get the necessary guidance on how to control weeds and pests. One of the most common cotton pests are weevils but they can be effectively gotten rid of using pesticides. Pay keen attention when buds starts coming out because it is usually from then that pests show up more. Weed control must be done by means that are not chemical in order to protect the integrity and chemical composition of the cotton plants. Some of the ways in which you can do this is through using bio-control or mechanical techniques.
Harvesting is usually done by hiring part-time workers to hand pick the cotton. You can imagine how labour-intensive that makes cotton farming to be. When the buds have flourished to a point where the cotton flower is openly exposed then you know that harvesting is now due.
Make Sure You Have A Comprehensive Cotton Farming Business Plan
The failure to plan is the beginning of business failure. The cotton farming business plan must be clear and succinct enough to give your potential partners, clients and investors an overview of what your objectives are. At the same time, it must be detailed enough to explain the operations of the business that you propose. At the very minimum you need to have the following included in your cotton farming business plan:
- The mission, vision and operational strategy
- Market Analysis And Customer Segmentation
- A business case showing that the business is financial viable and sustainable
- A marketing and customer care plan
- An organizational chart and human resource policy
- A three-year expansion outlook
- A risk and rewards Analysis
There a significant amount of human capital needed especially during the harvesting phase. Mechanization can reduce the human capital requirements though. All in all, your human capital needs will be informed by your scale of production and level of mechanization. It is refreshing to know that it is possible to get relatively low-cost manual labourers who can do a sterling job.
Substantial amounts of financial and material inputs are needed for this type of farming business. This is not surprising because you will be dealing with huge patches of land which need preparation and maintenance – for a whole year before realizing any revenue. There will also be a need for farm implements, chemicals, fertilizers and the like. There is also the issue of labour costs; cotton farming is highly labour-intensive (especially if your level of mechanization is low).
The market is quite vast spanning from domestic to foreign. Depending on the country there might be cotton farming boards that facilitate the buying and selling of cotton between farmers and clients. In some countries cotton is one of the major cash crops that are exported. If you can manage to grow cotton for export markets you can be sure to make some huge profits.
So that is about it for some guidelines on how to start a cotton farming business. This is meant to set you going but you will need to get more information from professionals and other established farmers. As usual, before you start this business you must conduct your market research so that you do not end up with a crop that is not selling.