7 Tips for The Most Profitable Farming Per Acre in Africa
May 24, 2024

image most profitable farming per acre

Agriculture is one of the most reliable economic vehicles in Africa, employing 70% of the continent’s workforce and generating 25% of its GDP. Harrowing food shortages, coupled with a tough business climate across Africa and many parts of the world, have spotlighted farming as a hotbed for investment.

But, not every farming venture is guaranteed to rake in the profits - you'd be lucky to break even with some.

We’ve put together this comprehensive guide to help you make every inch of your acreage count. We’ll highlight some high-yield crops and livestock and review some key factors to consider when planning how to use your acreage. Plus, we have a list of funding sources for financial support and Agritech innovations to get your farming off the ground.

Let's uncover the untapped investment potential lurking within your acreage. 

The most profitable crops and livestock

The most profitable crops to grow per acre

The quest for profitable farming begins with identifying profitable crops and understanding the intricacies of cultivation, from soil to harvest. 

Grains and cereals

Grains, especially corn, wheat, millet, and rice, are some of Africa's most widely cultivated profitable plants. 

Choose well-drained, fertile soil with a pH of 6.0-7.5 for your grains for maximum yields. But rice requires flooded or saturated soil conditions. 

Corn can yield up to 3,000 - 5,000 pounds (14 - 20 quintals) per acre, coming in at $0.05-1 per pound, wheat 3000 - 4000 pounds (50 - 60 bushels) per acre, at $0.05-1 per pound, and rice 6,000-8,000 pounds per acre at 1.35 per pounds.

Root crops and tubers

Root crops and tubers are staple foods for millions of Africans and are highly demanded exports. 

It’s best to plant tubers and roots in well-drained, sandy loam soil. Apply organic mulch over the planted stalks to conserve soil moisture and control weeds.  

A well-cultivated root farm can yield 10-20 tons of fresh roots per acre, at $50-100 per ton.

Veggies and fruits

The most profitable fruits and veggies

Fruits and veggies are also expensive crops. They provide ingredients for culinary delights and are a source of vital nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants.

Tomatoes, watermelon, and bananas require full sun, warm temperatures (70-85°F), and moist loam soil. Cabbage prefers cooler temperatures (55-75°F) and consistent moisture. 

Fruits and veggies can yield 5-20 tons of output per acre. Still wondering what the most profitable farming per acre in Africa is? Bananas can generate up to 40 tons per acre at roughly $600 per ton

Beverage crops

These are expensive crops that hold immense economic and nutritional significance worldwide. 

Coffee thrives in warm temperatures (60-70°F) and high humidity. Citrus trees require full sun and warm temperatures (70-90°F). Tea plants are more versatile and suitable for cool to warm temperatures (50-75°F). 

You can expect an average yield of 5-10 pounds of green coffee beans per tree per year, at $2.5 per pound. Citrus can yield 200-400 fruits per tree per year. A kg of fruits with 4-5 fruits comes in at about $2.5. Tea can produce 3,000 pounds of tea leaves on average per acre per year, at $10-20 per pound.

Fish farming

Fish farming, or aquaculture, is growing increasingly important in meeting the growing global demand for seafood. 

For tilapia and catfish, ensure adequate water depth and quality in the tank or pool. They require warm freshwater environments with temperatures between 77-86°F. 

Tilapia yields about 4,000-5,000 pounds per acre per year, bringing in $5-7 per pound on average. Meanwhile catfish generates 3000-7000 pounds yearly on an acre of land, going for $1.5-3 per pound

Shrimps require warm, saline water conditions with temperatures between 77-86°F and salinity levels of 20-35 ppt. You can expect an average yield of 1,000-1,500 pounds per acre per cycle, at about $4-8 per pound

Animal farming

Animal farming pays off in many ways, from meat to milk, eggs, and other animal products. 

For poultry, suitable housing with adequate space, ventilation, and protection from predators is essential.. 

The expected yield is approximately 250-300 eggs per hen per year for laying hens, at $0.80 per dozen, and 4-6 pounds of meat per bird for broilers, at roughly $8 per pound.

For dairy farming (cows), expect a yield of approximately 24,000 pounds of milk per cow per lactation cycle. On average, a hundred pounds of milk goes for roughly $22

With these crops and livestock, you can achieve significant financial returns while meeting the demand for staple foods, beverages, and animal products. Now let’s look at the best practices to maximize your investment.

8 best practices for the most profitable farming per acre

Most profitable farming best practices

To help improve your chances of running a profitable acreage, here are crucial strategies to consider:

1. Market demand and input costs

Choosing crops with high market demand and lower input and labour costs allows for more rapid returns on investment. For example, Africa is responsible for 63% of the world's production of Cassava with ROIs ranging from 50%-300%.   

2. Agroforestry integration

Integrate trees and shrubs and alley cropping into agricultural landscapes to enhance soil fertility.

3. Indigenous crop varieties

Cultivate locally adapted and resilient crop varieties to increase climate resilience and conserve biodiversity.

4. Conservation agriculture

Adopt conservation agriculture principles such as minimum tillage, soil cover, and crop rotation to improve soil structure, moisture retention, and carbon sequestration.

5. Pest and disease management

Explore traditional pest and disease management practices such as companion planting, crop rotation, and botanical extracts to control pests and diseases and minimise reliance on synthetic pesticides.

6. Livestock integration

Integrate livestock into cropping systems through techniques such as agro-pastoralism, rotational grazing, and manure management. This will enhance soil fertility, weed control, and nutrient cycling while also diversifying your income streams.

7. Farmer cooperatives

Farmer cooperatives and producer groups enable you to access resources, share knowledge and skills, and negotiate better prices. 

8. Value-added processing

Explore value-added opportunities such as on-farm processing, direct marketing, and product differentiation to capture additional value from farm products.

With these strategies, you can maximise the profitability of your African farm, ultimately contributing to a sustainable and lucrative agricultural enterprise.

Ways to get funding for your farm

If you’re short on funding, this section will provide a headstart to achieving your dreams of cultivating lucrative crops. Below is a list of funding sources plus key providers for you to begin with.

Government grants and subsidies

most profitable farming per acre

African governments often offer grants and subsidies to support agricultural development and food security initiatives. Some notable government grant agencies include Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) in Nigeria, and the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) in Kenya.

Agricultural loans from financial institutions

Financial institutions in Africa, including banks, microfinance institutions, and development banks, offer tailored loans for farmers and agribusinesses. Institutions like the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) provide credit lines to finance agricultural projects.

Crowdfunding platforms

Crowdfunding platforms allow farmers to raise capital from a broad network of individual investors. Platforms like FarmDrive in Kenya and South Africa’s Thundafund enable farmers to create online campaigns for agricultural projects.

Donor funding from NGOs and international organisations

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and international organisations like the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Farm Africa, and Heifer International offer grants and capacity-building programs to smallholder farmers. 

Agricultural cooperatives and associations

Agricultural cooperatives and associations such as the Kenya Farmers Association (KFA) offer financial products such as savings accounts, loans, and insurance to its members. 

Microfinance institutions

Organisations like Juhudi Kilimo in Kenya and LAPO Microfinance in Nigeria support farmers with microloans for agricultural inputs, equipment, and livestock. 

Agric leasing and renting

If you have limited capital or prefer a minimal investment to reduce risks, consider leasing farmland, farm machinery, or inventory from rental companies like Kanu Equipment.

These funding sources can help you access the financing and resources you need to start or expand your agricultural ventures.

Top agritech solutions to ramp up your production and profits 

Here, we'll discuss some important agritech solutions you should consider and the major providers in Africa.

Mobile agro marketplaces

These platforms connect farmers directly with buyers and suppliers of agricultural inputs such as seeds, fertilisers, and pesticides. Key examples include TruTrade Africa and the Food and Agriculture Organization 

Precision agriculture technology

Tools such as drones, GPS, and sensors enable farmers to monitor and manage their crops and land more efficiently. By providing farmers with real-time data and insights, these technologies enhance the quality and quantity of yield while helping optimise resource management. 

Key players in this domain include Agrix Tech and Ujuzikilimo

Climate-smart solutions

These technologies help farmers adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change, including weather forecasting, drought-resistant crops, and irrigation management systems. For instance, soil moisture sensors and automated irrigation controllers monitor soil in real-time and adjust irrigation schedules accordingly for optimal crop yield.

Some prominent providers here include SunCulture and eAgronom

Financial technology (fintech) solutions

Agric fintech platforms offer financial services such as microloans, insurance, and savings accounts tailored to the needs of smallholder farmers, including easier access to cost financing and savings accounts.

Key providers here include Apollo Agriculture and Thrive Agric

Supply chain management platforms

These systems can help you set up the easiest and most profitable farming per acre. They provide logistics, storage, and transportation solutions to optimise farm inventory management and support the flow of agricultural products from farm to market.

Some notable companies in this space include Unitrans and Taimba.

Create your path to the most profitable farming per acre 

The tips and resources above for the most profitable farming per acre will prime you for success. Your fields will burst with abundance, and your profits will soar as your farm flourishes. 

By embracing the benefits of selective crop production, sustainable practices, and innovative techniques and farming resources listed above, you can unlock the untapped profitability of expensive crops.

Are you ready to transform your farm into a cash machine? It's time to roll up your sleeves and bring out your green thumb.

Need more help accessing agritech innovation to support your farming? Consult with our agritech experts at FFA today.