7 Most Profitable Crops For Small Farms in South Africa

Completely covered in land, South Africa has been known to be one of the leading producers of food worldwide, gaining abundant profit from large-scale and small-scale farms. Small farms have gained attention in the past few years due to high-yield crops and, therefore, higher profits. Let's review a list of the seven most profitable crops for small farms in South Africa to help you plan which crops can earn you more money.

The top seven most profitable crops in South Africa are fast-growing crops such as baby carrots, lettuce, radishes, cucumber, squash, bush beans, and microgreens. These crops are grown only for a short period of time, can be easily harvested, and therefore have a promising profit return.

What makes these crops profitable is their short growing time, which we will discuss one by one below as you keep reading.


  • The seven most profitable crops in South Africa are the following: baby carrots, lettuce, radishes, cucumber, squash, bush beans, and microgreens.
  • High profitability of crops depends on their harvesting duration, and how easily they can be planted.
  • Vegetable farming is a profitable business in South Africa, with spinach, butternut, pumpkin, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, corn, and carrots being the first on the list.

Most Profitable Crops to Grow on Your Small Farm in South Africa

Agricultural farming has been a lucrative business in many parts of Africa for generations. It means a lot to the whole country itself and has been supplying food worldwide for years. Up until now, farming has remained profitable in Africa, especially with enough knowledge gained from years of experimenting on which crops to grow that can gain them more profit.

In South Africa, to get the best out of their small farmlands, they focus on producing fast-growing crops such as the ones below:

1. Baby carrots are a profitable small farm crop

Baby carrots, as the term suggests, are young carrots harvested while they are still tiny. They have been the fastest-growing and most popular carrot type. Baby carrots can be harvested in as little as 30 days and directly sold to restaurants, so they are not always available in supermarkets.

2. Lettuce is a profitable small farm crop

There's a high demand for lettuce in South Africa, amounting to 40,000 tons per year. Hamburgers won't be complete without lettuce as one of their toppings. Lettuce is mainly used as a food garnish or as a salad mix in restaurants and even at home.

Its profitability is high because its seeds are cheap and can be planted anywhere in South Africa. It also has a harvesting time of about 30–40 days and can be sold at high profit margins. Lettuce is also planted and harvested multiple times per year. If you grow lettuce indoors, you will have a steady income for the whole year.

3. Radish is a profitable small farm crop

With their ease of planting and short growth duration, radishes are popular among beginners in farming. They are available also all throughout the year and peak during mid-year. They can be used as a forage crop and cover crop in most farms which adds to their usefulness. It takes only 25 days for radishes to grow, so planting them can help beginners gain profit fast.

4. Squash is a profitable small farm crop

Another profitable crop in South Africa is squash. It is a fast-growing crop that can give you a profit within 70 days of planting. What makes squash profitable is the short period from transplanting the seedlings to harvesting which is beneficial as it shortens the risk period of the plant. This means lower costs of irrigation, pest and disease control, and labor.

5. Cucumbers are a profitable small farm crop

Cucumbers are popular and in high demand in South Africa, and fruits have relatively short shelf lives. Their use varies from healthcare and skin care products to being used as a fresh salad ingredient. As fast growers, they can be harvested in about 50 days, making them easy to profit from.

6. Bush beans are a profitable small farm crop

Beans are a versatile, easy-to-grow, and highly productive vegetable, which makes them a good choice for small farms. Bush beans can be harvested 55 to 60 days after planting and will continue to produce for a month. This makes them a profitable crop in South Africa, as the supply will be continuous for a month.

7. Microgreens are a profitable small farm crop

Microgreens refer to young vegetables or baby plants that are harvested after 10 to 14 days of growth. They are mostly referred to as the tiniest crops with the biggest returns. Microgreens are small edible vegetables that have many uses. In restaurants, they are used to garnish dishes or mixed in salads.

Aside from this, microgreens are highly preferred by consumers because of their appeal and health benefits. Microgreens also only require a small piece of land and can even be planted in soil pots, so they're a good choice for farming.

Novice farmers should consider planting microgreens because they are easy to grow, the turnaround time is high, and it requires little capital to start. Microgreens, however, must be sold while they're still fresh to keep their high value. So before venturing further into microgreens planting, be sure you have a target partner to sell your product to.

Most Profitable Vegetables to Grow in South Africa

As seen above, the most profitable crops in South Africa are mostly vegetables. Vegetable farming can be very profitable in this region. Unlike livestock farming, growing vegetables costs less, and you won't need to buy expensive feed or build housing for your animals. You will only need a good water supply, a piece of land, and sometimes pesticides if necessary. These all add up to why vegetable farming is profitable in South Africa.

You also generate your own seeds each year with vegetable farming, so, once you have a large profitable vegetable crop, you can repeat this each year. The problem with vegetable farming, however, is its high dependency on the weather system. Long and intense hot periods like drought or continuous rain during stormy seasons can largely downscale your vegetable farming profits.

To counteract this, plant the right crop for your small farm that is harvested easily and in a short duration to avoid prolonged exposure to different weather systems, therefore gaining you a more rewarding profit.

The most profitable vegetables to grow in South Africa are the following: spinach, butternut, pumpkin, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, corn, and carrots. Basil and asparagus are also profitable, but you must have a target market beforehand. Many types of leafy vegetables are also in high demand. There is also a strong market and demand for oilseed.

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