Broccoli Farming and Cultivation in India – Profit, Yield Per acre …

Broccoli is not a go-to vegetable for most people. It is not considered a delicacy in India and is only consumed for its health benefits, not its taste. Nevertheless, anything that is rare or new in the market creates hype and people want to try it for various reasons. Colored, capsicums, zucchini, and iceberg lettuce are rarely consumed in an Indian household but are expensive and available in the market in small quantities. 

Broccoli is a wonderful vegetable. It is packed with nutrients and vitamins and is sometimes even called a superfood.  Here is a fun fact. Broccoli is a manmade vegetable. It is a breed of wild cabbage and took years of evolution to reach this stage. It is important to appreciate this human creation for its value in terms of nutrition. It is packed with vitamins C, B, and K, Potassium, and iron with a bit of protein, fats, and cabs.

But Broccoli is still not a popular vegetable in India. At least not yet. A major portion of broccoli consumption is only in the metros. This includes Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Delhi, Bangalore, and major metropolitan cities. Less than half of the total production is consumed in tier 2 and 3 cities. When it comes to rural India, it is seldom consumed. Consumers do not purchase broccoli as they either do not know how to cook or consume it and find it unappealing if they try it. Repeat consumers are low in rural India. The lack of awareness about broccoli is huge in rural India and it may take years before rural India starts considering broccoli in their daily meal.

For now, The market for broccoli is only in the cities. This also means a big challenge for farmers. Farmers in rural India with markets far from cities will find it difficult to market their products or sell them. Transportation, costs will be high, and cultivating broccoli in largescale to balance the cost and profit ratio is also not feasible. Nevertheless, Broccoli farming is profitable if it is practiced in the right area and the right season. 

Quick Overview for Broccoli farmers

SoilPH of 6-7, well-drained soil. Clay soil is not preferred.
Season / Time of CultivationOctober – March, Winter in central and north India
Total Crop Period4 Months from Seed to harvest
Seed Requirement100-130 Grams, Depending on the Variety
Total Plants per acre16000
Nursery preparation Time 21-28 Days, From October to the first week of December
The average price of Broccoli35 Rs per KG
Average Yield of Brocolli3-4 Tonnes per acre
Fertilizer requirementsMinimal
Pests and DiseaseMinimal
Ease of CultivationEasy

Broccoli is considered a low Budget, Easy to cultivate, Short term crop for farmers with medium to above average income. But like most crops, they do suffer from loss and risks of going into one if not planned properly. 

Broccoli Farming Time

There is always a right time and a right place for things and this applies very well to Farming. When it comes to broccoli farming, it’s important to keep time in mind. When to start your nursery, when to replant them and when to harvest all are very important to better profit. While Broccoli farming can be done throughout the year, the crops are not profitable during summer or when the temperature is above 25 degrees. They also don’t do it when it is cold. In summer, when the heat is high, the plants bolt much faster and the flowers are considerably smaller even with all the care you can provide. If you are cultivating broccoli during summer, opt for a greenhouse or a poly house, without which it is very hard to profit from broccoli cultivation during the summer months. Though you will reap a good profit during summers due to high demand and low production during these seasons, the investment involved is much higher during the summer months. On the contrary, during winter, the product is of better quality, there are lesser pests and the overall effort in the cultivation of broccoli is much less. 

States and Cities Where broccoli has a good market

Brocolli Farming in Kerala: In Kerala, Kochin and Ernakulam market offers the best price and is one of the few markets in Kerala where broccoli is sold. There is a small demand in major cities like Thrissur, and Trivandrum. If you are cultivating Broccoli near these areas, in not more than half an acre. The demand for these products is very mediocre in Kerala and selling them in local grocery shops may be challenging.

broccoli farming in Maharashtra: Mumbai and Pune markets consume the largest production of broccoli. If you are around this area or in a radius of 100 KM from these markets, it is a wonderful crop to grow. Pune has one of the best weather for broccoli farming. Largescale production of broccoli is possible in these areas.

Planting broccoli and cauliflower together – Intercropping Broccoli with other vegetables

When you are beginning with broccoli and do not want to dedicate an entire acre to broccoli, you can opt to intercrop broccoli with a range of vegetables. All winter vegetables are suitable for intercropping with Brocolli. Cabbages and Caulifower are best suited for intercropping with Brocolli but beetroot, carrots, and most other vegetables which grow in winter. Broccoli does not attract a lot of pests and intercropping will not affect other crops at all. The fertilizer requirement and water requirement for cabbages, carrots, beetroot, and cauliflower are also the same as broccoli. This ensures that no plants are affected due to the other. When intercropping Brocolli, do not mix 2 plants in the same row. Separate them into 2 rows to make sure that the specific needs, of each of the plants, will be met and corrections can be done if required. 

Is broccoli Farming profitable?

While Data does indicate that broccoli farming can be very profitable, things can go wrong when done large scale. The production of broccoli is easy and farmers, once they get to understand the crop may be tempted to do it large scale. Unfortunately in the Indian market, the demand for Broccoli is very limited. Selling a tonne of broccoli in one go even in a metro is not advisable. If you have a production of broccoli in more than an acre, you may want to practice a bit of caution. Cutting the broccoli heads in phases, Finding more than one market, and offering the products to the retail market could all increase your revenue and reduce loss of produce and revenue. It is often seen that when a large quantity of produce, even those which are consumed abundantly hit the market in one go, prices tend to drop and farmers find it hard to break even with their expenses.

Here are some tips to reduce the risk and ensure you do profit from Broccoli farming

  1. Cut in phases. With one acre of land, you will have approximately 16000 plants out of which nearly 12000 plants may produce a good yield. Do not cut all in one go. Ensure that they are cut in phases of 2 Quintals per cutting phased over multiple days. While this may increase your transportation cost, you will know the demand in the market and you can also get a good price by not flooding the market with 1 tonne in a single go.
  2. Right seed selection: Broccoli farming and most other farming can be successful and a big failure depending on the seed selection. Some seeds grow well in certain weather and soil conditions while some may fail terribly. There is no clear-cut indication of which seeds will work for you and which will not. Farmers usually purchase a small quantity of a particular variety of seeds and try them before going into large-scale production. This is advisable for all crops.
  3. Right Time: You may have noticed that broccoli prices range up to 150 rs a kilo during summer and off-season. These vegetables do not grow too well in summer and if you do see them during summer, chances are they were transported from another location, which is much cooler and suitable for production. Some farmers also do broccoli cultivation in poly houses and shade net areas with some success. Trying to cultivate broccoli during summer to try and monetize on the market may not always be good for farmers if they do not have provisions and are cultivating them in an open field. The right time to cultivate Broccoli is during the winter, especially if you are cultivating them in an open field. The prices may range only up to 35 rs per kg but you will still make a decent profit from the crop during this season.
  4. Bulk production: Avoid bulk production. The maximum cultivation recommended is one acre per farmer. Fortunately, not all farmers are into broccoli cultivation in India and the market is not flooded. You also need to keep in mind the demand for the product before producing the quantity. Just because broccoli sells for 150 Rs per kilo you cannot go ahead and cultivate 5 or 10 acres of broccoli. This is disastrous and will result in produce dumping which breaks the hearts of farmers and consumers. Brocolli is also not a product that is commonly processed or stored for future use. These are perishable food products and have a medium to short shelf life.
  5. Soil testing: Broccoli usually thrives in most soil conditions. But with depleted soil nutrients, it’s always advisable to find out what’s lacking in the soil to complement it. Also cultivating in highly clay soil is not recommended. In most cases, if there is a lack of nutrients in the soil, you may just need to add compost or cow manure to the cultivation area for production. 

But then, how profitable is broccoli farming? Let’s look at some clear figures to understand the expenses and profits. Some of these figures are estimates. For instance, the price for a product cannot always be calculated exactly. An average price can be considered. Additional Expenses like pest control or additional labor due to some reason may be incurred too. This can still be a ballpark figure for the expenses and profit for cultivators.

Nursery Preparation (Labor only)750 Rs 
Coco peat 750 Rs
Grow Tray1100 Rs
Land Preparation
Plowing2500 Rs
Fertilizers & Cow Manure4500 Rs 
Pesticides4000 Rs
Transplanting 2000 Rs
Weeding 5000 Rs
Irrigation2500 Rs
Harvesting4500 Rs
Transportation12500 Rs 
Total Expenses40100 Rs

An expense of 40,000 Rs for cultivating one acre of Broccoli may seem to be a bit high but wait. Nearly 1/4th of the total expenditures are for transportation and this may be considerably lesser if you are near cities or if you have retail sales at your farm. Nevertheless, let us assume that there is a high transportation cost. Now to the yield and income

Average Weight of one Brocolli headis 300-gram
The average number of productive plants per acre16000
Number of Productive plants (Good quality)12000
Total Yield in Kilos per are3600 kilos or 3.6 Tonnes
Total revenue (Gross) at 35 Rs per KG1,26,000 Rs

Please note that the second picking of the plant which produces a significantly smaller head is not calculated here at all. The price for them may be significantly lesser, but that produce alone will amount to nearly 300 kilos which we shall not calculate in the profit. Also to be noted is that the average broccoli weighs anywhere between 300-500 grams and we have taken the lowest weight figures. Even with these calculations which presumable take in more on the expenses side you will still make a decent profit of 85,900 Rs Per acre in 4 months. 

Total Profit from one acre of land (Gross revenue – Expenses )

126000-40100 = 85900 Rs

At first look, this may not be a very significant amount but let us consider some other crops for comparison’s sake. Rice, for instance, produces 1 Lakh per acre a YEAR. broccoli makes 85900 Rs in 4 months. Surely very profitable if you can cultivate something else for the remaining 8 months in the same land!

Things that can ensure a Profitable Cultivation of Broccoli in India

These are some of the factors which affect the profit of broccoli cultivation. While some can be controlled, others may seem a bit out of hand. If you find a particular point that does not agree with your case, you should consider opting out of Broccoli cultivation. 

Climate for  Broccoli Cultivation: A temperature between 18 and 25 is best suited for broccoli. If your winter ranges in these temperatures, then you are in the right location. If the temperature is between 18 and 25 during any season of the year and continues to be so for 4 months, then you can cultivate broccoli during this period 

Ideal Soil for  Cultivation: The best soil is sandy loam but any soil is ok with Broccoli as long as it’s well drained. In Clay, soil production is usually hard and yellowing leaves are noticed. The broccoli flowers are much smaller. Avoid areas where soil contains more clay. If you do want to cultivate broccoli in such areas, ensure the addition of cow manure or Compost.

Varieties of  Broccoli: The Sakata variety is the most commonly cultivated in central India. Other varieties include

Find the variety which suits your weather condition and soil. While some varieties thrive in some areas, they may not do so well in others.  The yield, seed requirement, and plants per acre may vary depending on the variety.

Propagation: PRopagate broccoli from seeds. The nursery should be prepared from cocopeat mix in a seed tray. The nursery plants should be replanted in 21-30 days. Leaving the plants in the nursery will result in root-bound plants which will not grow well and produce no flowers. A Healthy plant should be available from the nursery in 21 days and most cases, they are ready for transplant.

Season: Broccoli is a seasonal Crop, best grown during winter. October to March is the best time to grow Broccoli. Growing broccoli during summer will not result in a good yield.

Land Preparation: Fortunately, There is not much needed for the cultivation of broccoli. 2 things need to be kept in mind. The first is that Broccoli should have loose soil. Adding Compost or cow manure to the farm can add a lot of nutrients and loosen the soil. Plow the soil thoroughly and add cow manure at 3-4 tonnes per acre. The second important thing about land preparation for broccoli is to ensure that there is good water drainage. Winters do not have a lot of rain, nevertheless, if there is rain, the water should be drained out as soon as possible. Water logging could lead to root decay and loss of crops. Make trenches in the sides of the cultivation area and build raised beds for the plants to be set on. Apart from these 2, there are no other requirements when it comes to land preparation 

Plant Spacing and Density: A good broccoli farm accommodates up to 16000 plants in one acre if planned properly. That’s at an average distance of 1 foot X 2 feet. A distance of one foot between plants and 2 feet between rows. 

Intercropping: A range of winter crops can be grown as intercrops with broccoli. Common ones are cabbages, cauliflower, beetroots, and carrots. Cauliflower and cabbages have almost the same requirements as broccoli in terms of nutrition and irrigation. Intercropping with any of these 4 vegetables is a great idea. Avoid plants like tomatoes, Brinjal, or okra. Their requirements for nutrition and irrigation differ a lot from that of Broccoli.

Irrigation: Drip irrigation is the best for broccoli. 1 hour of irrigation per day when there is the moisture content in the soil is less and one hour per 3 days when the moisture content level in the soil is very common. Flood irrigation is rarely recommended due to various reasons including excessive weeds.

Fertilizers: Being a short-term crop, Broccoli requires minimal fertilizers if the soil condition is right. If you have already applied cow manure or compost during the land preparation, there will be no need to add any other fertilizers at all.

Pests and disease: Broccoli is resistant to pests if cultivated during winter. There are very less chances of fungal attack and the only known problems are bugs, termites, aphids, and borers. Weekly Application of pesticides could prevent or remove these pests. Unlike most other vegetable crops, weekly application of fertilizers is all that’s needed. No alternative or daily pesticide application is practiced.

Harvesting: Harvesting is done from the 4th month. Pick only well-developed heads and stagger the picking as much as possible to ensure that you have just enough quantity to transport. 2-3 quintals per picking are advisable as you can continue picking for nearly 2- 3 weeks.

Weed Control: Being a short-term crop, it’s important to control weed right from the beginning. Most farms will require 3-4 weed removals. Remove weeds when required. Chemical weedicides are not recommended or feasible.

Seed: Seeds for Broccoli can be purchased online or from local stores. If you know that there are local broccoli farmers, chances are you will find the seeds from local vendors. You will also be advised about the local varieties which are being cultivated. This is a good advantage as you do not have to try which seed will work for you. If it is already cultivated in your area, it’s most likely going to work for you too.

Broccoli farming at Home

For enthusiasts and home gardeners, Cultivating broccoli at home is very easy. You can cultivate brocolli in your backyard if conditions permit or you can use a grow bag. Cultivating Broccoli in grow bags gives you the added advantage of moving it when conditions are not feasible. Also, you can take care of the water and nutrient requirements of the broccoli when they are grown in grow bags. Unfortunately, there will be one small problem to tackle for home growers. Seeds come in packs of 100 or more. Even 10 Grams of seed which is the normal package size will contain enough seeds to fill 500-1000 Growbags. You will not require so many seeds and most of them will go to waste. Purchasing plants from nurseries is one of the best options, but it’s not a commonly available plant in nurseries. A good option is to purchase seeds and share them with a few of your friends, such as plants or seeds themselves. There are no special requirements or needs for broccoli when you are farming them at home. It is one of the easiest plants to care for and surely can be cultivated 100% organic.

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