When considering a new niche for small agricultural business, farmers quite often revert to exotic cultures such as quinoa and chickpea. At the same time cultivation of traditional pumpkin may be no less profitable even without considerable initial investments.
As a consequence of introduced moratorium on the sale of land, many villagers now own big parcels of land which they cannot sell or find hard to cultivate. The majority of widespread agricultural plants is easily accessible and is so cheap that they even can’t ensure return on investments allocated for their cultivation. Nevertheless, there is an alternative.
Golden kernel: cultivation of pumpkin for the purpose of selling its seeds is profitable
Pumpkin is cultivated all over the world. It is used for cooking of tasty and useful dishes, while its forage breeds constitute an essential part of livestock animals’ and birds’ food ratio. Though, the cultivation of pumpkin started to be considered as a profitable business quite recently.
As an agricultural plant pumpkin is very easy to cultivate and store. Its breeding does not require a special knowledge or major financial and time investments. The climate conditions for its cultivation are favorable around Ukraine, allowing to obtain high yields, especially when qualitative seed material is used.
The cultivation of pumpkin became a profitable business in Ukraine due to the high price of pumpkin seeds which are in high demand in Ukraine as well as around the world. In Ukraine, the average purchase price of pumpkin seeds is €1000 per ton. A pumpkin, depending on the type of breed, contains 1-2% of seeds. On average, the output capacity of 1 hectare of arable land is 1-2 tons of dried seeds.
Pumpkin seeds oil is one of the most expensive in the world. It’s very popular in Austria and other European countries where it is used in food, pharmacological and beauty industries. During lean years the export price of pumpkin seeds may be as high as €4 per 1 kg.
You can start your pumpkin business with a small land parcel and a few employees
In small farms, pumpkin may be harvested manually, while seeds may be separated from the pulp using the affordable stationary equipment. The overall expenses for production of dried pumpkin seeds amount to around EUR 233 per hectare. In case you want to launch a large-scale production of pumpkin seeds be ready to invest in rent or purchase of pumpkin harvester as well as of a seed dryer. Such harvester slashes the pumpkin spreading its pulp around the field and in such way fertilizing the soil.
A good example of successful pumpkin breeding business is Hvorostov village in Volyn province of Ukraine which is located close to the EU border. Practically all villagers here are engaged in pumpkin cultivation for the purpose of seeds sale.
Hallowing project: using pumpkin for interior decoration, baking of pies and brewing of beer
Export of pumpkin to the USA is another promising business niche. During the autumn time the demand is particularly high: 41% of Americans – around 133 million people, use pumpkin as decorations during Hallowing, spending around USD 650 million during the holiday period alone. They also use it for pies baking, and even beer brewing. That’s why the poor yield of pumpkin in the USA in 2015 provoked the panic in the market which was unofficially labeled as «Pumpkincalypse».
The US Program of Generalized System of Preferences works in Ukraine but is rarely used
Even though there is no free trade agreement between Ukraine and the USA Ukrainian companies can export their goods to the USA without paying customs fees. It is possible due to theGeneralized System of Preferences, which will come into force in Ukraine on 31 December 2017. Nevertheless, in 2015 the Ukrainian export to the USA amounted to 481,6 million USD, which is 18% less than in 2014. Only 3% of Ukrainian export goes to the USA under the aforementioned system of preferences, as very few companies are aware of it.
The prolongation of the moratorium for sale of land in Ukraine creates additional challenges for all parties concerned. At the same time, it stimulates people to search for new business opportunities. Pumpkin is not an exotic agricultural plant requiring special conditions for cultivation and search of new retail markets. Probably it’s the gold literary lying on the ground.