Start a Seed Company

South Africa is a large producer of seeds in Africa. Despite the high competition, seed production is still a promising business to get into for the small business owner.

What is a seed company?
Basically, a seed company is a company that produces and sells seeds for

  • Fruit;
  • Vegetables;
  • Flowers

Moreover, there are other seeds to grow. In particular, there is a high demand for other seeds which can be eaten:

  • flax seeds;
  • poppy seeds;
  • sesame seeds.

Getting Started
There are various companies in SA (Klein Karoo Seed Production, Capstone Seeds, Pannar Seed) that produce a variety of seeds then there are companies that provide a single type (Potato Seed Production – as the name implies, it produces only potato seeds).  Not only is it a successful potato seeds manufacturer, but also this company is a well-recognised leader in this area.

What’s the point? Before you start writing a business plan, decide on a specific focus for your business. No need to grow as many seeds as possible. You won’t beat the most successful companies, but if you concentrate your efforts on one specific plant, you can become a well-recognised industry leader, as the company mentioned above.

Now small businesses in this industry usually sell to gardeners that is because the farm market is dominated by large companies including behemoth Monsanto. So smaller seed growers focus on a particular niche such as flowers that they can sell in retail stores or at organic markets.

Target Market & Your Customers
Since South Africa is a leader in seed production, the market is occupied by big companies. But you can apply one strategy. The problem with seeds is that most of them are GMO (genetically modified ). Not everyone understands what these three letters stand for, but most people (whether consciously or unconsciously) prefer non-GMO products.

So why not choose one specific plant to grow (for example, a flax) and establish your company as an organic producer of flax seeds? In this case, your customers will be people who are conscious about their health.

Business Model
You have to think like a farmer when growing seeds, and like an entrepreneur when selling them, because growing is one thing, marketing and selling – quite another.

Watch this long and detailed video on making money growing and selling seeds on a small scale:

Make Money Selling Seeds on a Small Scale

Integrating commercial seed production with the market garden featuring Daniel Brisebois. Growing seeds can be a profitable addition to your market garden. There is a market to sell local organic seeds to small seed companies. Or you can start your own retail seed company.

Now you are probably thinking should you grow your own seed to resell or buy it wholesale and package it into smaller packets to resell. That all depends on your current situation. Do you have space to grow and do you know the best way to grow.

Buying wholesale and reselling
If you buying wholesale then you buy say 1000 seeds at a time and package and sell them in packets of say 10. Obviously if you are buying edible seeds then you cannot buy 1000 and sell ten at a time you have to buy a ton (1000kg) and sell them in 500g or 1kg bags.

Producing your own:
If you produce your own seeds you can offer b2b services (which means selling your product to a wholesaler) or to people who want to resale the seeds.

bizfluent has the following packaging advice:
Design packaging for your seeds. Include information about the appearance, flavor and uses of the different plants, as well as instructions for planting and harvesting them, including the best temperature and season, seed spacing recommendations and ideal seed planting depth.

Which is further expanded by Wikipedia:

Generally, seed packets labels includes:

  • Common plant name and the botanical name (in parentheses).
  • Space and deep: how deep to place the seeds in the soil, space between plants (from one row to the other one and from one plant to the other one in the same row).
  • Height: approximate height the plant will reach when mature.
  • Soil: type of soil the plant prefers.
  • Water: It can indicate “keep the soil lightly damp”, “bottom water the plant”, “drench the soil with water”, “daily misting of water” and “almost dry out before re-watering”.
  • Sun: full direct sunlight, partial sun, diffused sunlight, or grows well in the shade.
  • Door: if the plant is best suited for growing Indoor, Outdoor or Both.
  • Live: Perennial or annual.
  • Planting, germination and harvest period: This information can be indicated by months or quarters of the year.
  • Special requirements, if necessary.

This information can be represented graphically.