Are you looking for a lucrative farming business idea? Have you considered garlic farming? Garlic (Allim sativum) is a herb that is related to onion, leeks and chives.
Garlic farming is a quiet rewarding crop with an almost ready and paying market. Garlic has quite an incredible demand and market as it mostly used as a flavoring in cooking and also as medicine throughout ancient and modern history. Below we are going to take you on a simple guide for you to farm garlic like a pro.
Benefits of Garlic
Garlic comes with many benefits and is commonly used for conditions that are related to the heart and blood system such as high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, high levels of cholesterol or other fats in the blood. Garlic produces allicin, a chemical that seems to make it work for certain conditions. It is the same allicin that makes the garlic smell.
How to Plant Garlic
Garlic has quite a lengthy growing period of 26 – 35 weeks from planting to harvest. The best planting season is in summer
The garlic has to be planted in sunny spots, fertile and well drained soils
- Do a soil test and follow recommendations.
- Get rid of weeds, you can irrigate the field, allow for weed seedlings to emerge and then weed them out before planting. Garlic hates weeds and competition, make sure there is minimum competition.
- Prepare raised beds
- Plant the crop in rows
- 10- 15cm spacing between each clove (separate the bulb into individual cloves). Best cloves are those on the outer and the inner ones can be discarded.
- 30cm row spacing
- Plant 2.5 – 4cm deep with about 1cm being below the surface and covered with soil.
Watering, Fertilizing and Weeding
Making sure the garlic plants receive enough water and maintain a proper moisture balance is very important in them developing large bulbs. Garlic need at least 2.5 cm of water in clay or loam soils and at least 5cm of water in sandy soils. In drought areas or where there isn’t sufficient water, the garlic can still do well but the bulbs won’t be large enough and the harvest will be poor. On clay and loam soils, long and spaced watering is ideal whilst on sandy soils, short but frequent watering is ideal. At least 2 weeks prior to harvesting, watering should stop to help promote drying of the plant.
As highlighted earlier on, garlic plants hate competition, the weeds need to be removed early and weeding needs also to be done often and to make sure there are no or minimal weeds. To minimize the amount of weeds, mulching can be done in the beds, but still the fields will need monitoring to make sure that any weeds that might grow are removed. Strict care is also needed when weeding, to make sure the leaves are not damaged as a damage on a single leaf can reduce yield by about 20%. Also the roots and bulbs tend to be shallow, so make sure they are not tempered with.
You can use organic and artificial fertilizers. The best Nitrogen-Phosphorous and Potassium (NPK) fertilizer is usually based on your soil tests and recommendations, but one with a ratio of 10-10-10 or 10-10-15 is often a good one. Organic fertilizers such as chicken manure is also a very good option as it tends to have high source nitrogen and with good sources of phosphorous and potassium plus other nutrients needed by the plant.
The garlic is usually ready for harvesting after 26 – 35 weeks from planting. It should be done when the lower leaves turn brown.
- Use a garden fork to uproot the bulbs
- Sake off and brush off the soil, don’t water
- Bundle them together in 8 – 10 bulbs, hang to cure for about 3 -4 weeks.
After that, the garlic bulbs are ready for grading, packaging, use and selling.
Market For Garlic
With the discussed above benefits among many others create a fairly large market for garlic. According to Factmr, the global market size for garlic in 2021 was US$19.5 billion and is forecasted to be US$32 billion in 2031. This poses a huge potential or market for the crop which can be capitalized.
Asia-pacific leads in the garlic market with China and India leading as they often use garlic for their menus and spices. It is very important to establish a market for your garlic before you farm it, especially if you are farming it on a big scale. This can be either through contract farming or selling to brokers at wholesale. You can still sell at retail or on your own to restaurants, green markets like Mbare Musika, garlic oil processors,
According to Selina Wamuchi, the Zimbabwe Garlic 2023 Retail Prices as at 11 June 2013 were between US$4.5 to US$5.5 per kg and for wholesale prices were between US$3.15 to US$3.85.