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Maizefarmer

Growing Makua in Thailand

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Sometime back I wrote an article on growing Makua – does anyone know where that article is?

Anyway – that is another alternative which has the potential to generate fairly decent levels of income, and although requires irrigation to sustain through the dry season, it does not require capital outlay for greenhouses (the irrigation can be implemented with low pressure/drip type so no big electricity charges).

It is a relatively tough plant that is perfectly suited for the Thai climate – including Isaan region. It will produce fruit/vegetable all year round and his harvested daily and always in demand – so you will always have cash in hand.

It’s another crop that gives a significantly better return than a rubber plantation with a work cycle/time input that is similar to harvesting rubber (i.e. daily – early each morning been the best time to pick).

Tim

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Thanx RDC

Anyone who has 4rai of land and ain't sure what to do with it, you may like to conisder reading the above link - from about half way down the 1st page onwards and thru to about halfway down the 2nd page.

There are some consice details and info for growing Makua.

4rai has the potential (again its a realistic potential) to generate around Baht50K per month, or Baht 12 500 p/week. The scale of economies dont change much between 1 rai and 10 rai i.e. you will quite easily get Baht 3100 p/rai per week with anything from 1 - 10 rai - and the nice thing about it is that it starts coming in after about 2 -3 months, not after 5 - 7years!!!

Tim

Edited by Maizefarmer

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In vegetable farming I think that while the growing of the vegetable can scale easily to any size, the marketing is another matter. It's not hard to peddle a few kilo of any particlular crop yourself but generally speaking the more of a crop you have to sell the more work will go into marketing, the amount you sell at one time might be larger which often means you will receive a lower price...or the number of deliveries you make will be larger so the labor and transportation costs will increase.

Chownah

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In vegetable farming I think that while the growing of the vegetable can scale easily to any size, the marketing is another matter. It's not hard to peddle a few kilo of any particlular crop yourself but generally speaking the more of a crop you have to sell the more work will go into marketing, the amount you sell at one time might be larger which often means you will receive a lower price...or the number of deliveries you make will be larger so the labor and transportation costs will increase.

Chownah

I was thinking the same thing. Not in labor costs so much as crop sales. How the hel_l do you get rid of 10 rai worth of makua per day?I would like to hear a little more from MF about where his 20 rai (I believe) of makua is going. Ideal would be somebody coming around to harvest every morning for me and doing the transporting/selling. Obviously the price would be much lower but how much lower? The next best option would be hiring someone to harvest, and I am back to "How do I get rid of it?".

BTW: I did not include the option of me harvesting because THERE IS NO WAY I will get up at dawn everyday for anything.

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Heard of GATEWAY - each main provincial town has a fresh vegetable bulk market market distribution point for lack of a better point.

There are 2 in Bangkok - the main one known as "Gateway" located on the right hand side of the main road head towards Saraburi - looks like a big football stadium with a full covered roof.

You may think thats I long way from where I or you are. Well trucks pull in there every day from places as far as Korat and Khon Kaen.

Its Thailands biggest fresh market and acts as a buying and distribution point for not only the whole country - but also for the international market - a lot of the veggies that go into local processed foods or are exported frozen or cooked in tins, contain veggies that have been purchased from the bulk markets.

There is another in SaraBuri - on the plot of land next to the old BOC factory.

- another in Korat

- another in Khon Kaen

- another in ChangMai

- another in Chang Rai

When you grow on that scale your options are actually better - you supply the local fresh vilage/town market and send the rest to the bulk market.

But what is more than likely to happen is that - and I garunte this will happen is that if you are growing bulk Makua, before you get your first crop, you will have had a vist from at least half a dozen bulk dealers. Theyw ill want to buy your whole crop on a daily basis. These are the guys that have fllets of trucks and dominate the bulk markets. They never have enough of anything and are always looking for bulk sellers. Logisticaly its so much easier and cheaper to purchase from one person who can sell them bulk as opposed having to run around to lots of growers/sellers.

I assure you ..... grow 10 - 20 rai of makua and you phone will ring off the hook with guys wanting it - especialy if you are in a place like Isaan where the whole crop growing system grinds to a standsstill in the dry season.

AS for labour - there are lots of little old ladies who want to do a few hours work each morning, get their few Baht wages and then push off

Tim

Edited by Maizefarmer

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as you have probably noticed already, i know next to nothing, but actyally is makua, i have never heard of it.

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can't even fing makua in my thai-english dictionary, so please give me an idiots guide as to what it is as i will then have to try explain it to the wife. TY

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can't even fing makua in my thai-english dictionary, so please give me an idiots guide as to what it is as i will then have to try explain it to the wife. TY

Makua means eggplant in the US and auborgine in Europe...I think. There are many different kinds used in Thai food but the one we have been discussing is the one that is spherical and about the size of a golf ball or a little smaller, is green, and hard (crunchy). It is used in Isaan for somtam (I'm not sure if its IN the somtam or served WITH the somtam) and in the north it is eaten along with many of local dishes since its flavor complements many of them nicely. Also it is used in geng kheow wan.

There is also makua yaw which is called japanese eggplant in the US (I think). It is about 4 or 5 cm in diameter and about 10 to 20 cm long...it can be purple, green, or white when ripe. We eat it sort of tempura style... sliced thin at about 45degrees, dipped in a thin batter, and fried. There are also different northern dishes that use it but I don't know what they're called.

You can also get the "standard" style eggplant ("standard" for the US that is) which is purple and a bit pear shaped and 10cm in diameter and maybe 15 cm long....my wife has never cooked any of these but I know it is available.

I forgot....there is another kind of makua...in geng kheow wan those little things that look like peas but are harder...those are a kind of makua too.

Chownah

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Maizefarmer, your postings on Makua intrigue me immensely. I have 11 rai that the wife wants to plant rubber on, but from your postings it seems to be a no brainier that the best returns come from makua. The way I figure it if you get an average price of 15 baht and pay 30% of that to the wholesaler for 10.5 baht in your pocket and then give 5.5 of that to your pickers you end up with 5 baht a kilogram or 100 baht per rai per day which is 36,500 baht per rai per year. If you pay 24,000 baht per rai for land and it costs you 30,000 baht per rai to irrigate for a total of 54,000 baht per rai, and figure 12,000 baht per rai for expenses (fertilizers ext.) then your annual return would be a little over 45%. From what you have posted this seems a fair figure because all the figures I have used are on the conservative side, except for the irrigation figure which is just a guestimate, because I have no idea what drippers cost. Maizefarmer this seems to good to be true, and you know what they say about that. So could you please tell me where I am going wrong, and if the figures are true why is not everyone doing it? Thanks for your time, and I really enjoy your postings. Issangeorge.

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Thanks for your acknowldgement......... yes, I have farmed in Thailand for a long time on a commercial basis, so I think I have a pretty good idea of the differance between the theory of figures and how they appear when presented on internet articals, and what actualy happens when you take that information and put it into practise.

I grow around 20 rai of the stuff - I know exactly what is involved in growing & maintaining it, and in getting it to market.

Its a safe crop (ie follow those guidelines and you wont go far wrong), and it's a good crop to choose if you want to get a "feel" for farming in Thailand - and by "feel" I not only mean the actual daily routine your lifestyle will follow, but also getting a "feel" for how things work when dealing with buyers and sellers in the Thai agriculturral market enviorment - for as someone said earlier: growing the crop is only half the story, the other half of it is the real business side it - getting it to market, dealing with the buyers ect ect.....

Kick off with 1 rai or even half a rai if you wish is fine. I garuntee you will be able offload your 1/2 rai - 1rai on the local morning freash market in just about any village small town or village. You'll soon want to expand.

PS

Issangeorge - what was the response of your other half when you showed her what you had in mind - Approval or Disapproval? Generally all they girls like it as they see it as something that the whole family can get stuck into.

Tim

Edited by Maizefarmer

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Maizefarmer, I have mentioned it to my wife and she says her sister grows them and only gets 5 baht a bag, which I think is about 300 grams, and she only grows a few plants around her rice paddies so it's like talking apples and oranges. I just take things slow with my wife and gradually hope to bring her around. I know one of the big things she will bring up if I move forward is who will we sell to? I am retired and living on a pension so am not dependent on the income, but I would like to find something that could give her family some real income and yet let them remain in the village. I support them or at least some of them now, I don't mind this and they are all very appreciative and work very hard at chores around the house and at the rice farm, but if I could get something going where they are making their own money and money for me it would be great. Any amount of money over and above what I put out would be a bonus. Maizefarmer maybe you could tell me how much drippers are and how much you pay your workers ( if you want to skip how much you pay your workers I fully understand) Thanks again for all the help. Issangeorge.

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ISSANGEORGE - hang on half an hour - just helping junior with her geography homework - s I love it as it was the only subject I was any good at in school - will reply to your posting in about 30 minutes.

Tim

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....... that was easy, got hold I was wrong and to bugger off back to the computer (must remember that for next time!!). Okay wehere were we - cost of labour and drippers.

Drippers - well, first you need to tell me a few things:

1) size of land and layout - the length of each irrigation run will determine which dripper to use i.e. if your irrigation runs are only about 30-40 meters long and you are running them from a tank located above the dripper level, then really your flow rates are quite low and there will be no need to compnsate for the small differance between whatthe first dripper and the last dripper in each run will deliver to the plants. Its a different story though if your irrigatuion runs are 100 meters long - then you really do want to use regulated drippers as the first dripper will otherwise deliver a lot of water and the last one will deliver only a fraction of that amount.

So work out how you want to layout the filed and how big it is going to be.

If you use the layout I have put on the forum, and roughly the same length, you can get drippers for that at around Baht 9 - 18 each (depedning on avalibility at the time and the manufacturer/brandname of the dripper)

2) Labour costs - I need to check with the foreman - but it's based on kg picked and is around Baht 1.10 p/kg i.e. what the worker earns is based on the amount they pick.

It means fine, if you have a lazy team member then its only them who loose out, and leaves more for the harder workers to earn. Its also a good motivator.

A worker can pick 60kg an hour - thats Baht 60 per hour which for a 2 hour working day means that they will take home over a Baht 700 each. They love it, because as I said, its only a couple hours early in the morning and they are left to go work elswhere fo rthe rest of the day if they wish.

Other than for the farm forman (who is a fulltime employee and gets a salray that has nothing to do with the amount of Makua pciked but more to do with how well he manages the cows and milk yields), the folk who pick the makua are in my case a bunch of Beetle nut tooth stained local grannies - who turn up each morning and treat it more as a social gathering - they just do not stop yacking to each other - one can be 100 yards down the field and she will hold a conversation with her buddies at the other end of the field shouting to them. I havent got a clue what they are talking about half the time, but the conversation is punctuated with regular laughter and they will all burst outlaughing tat the same time spread out over the field 100's of yards apart.

Half way through, they drop everything and get stuck into a breakfast of bugs and sticky rice - then back to work.

They turn up at 5-5:30am and by 7:30 it's all over for the day.

Between the group of about 4 -5 of them they are all taking home around Baht 600 -700 each per week on average for harvesting around 2.6tons of Makua total or around 500 -550 kg each (they swop around so that they all have a day or two off each week)

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Maizefarmer, thanks again for you quick reply. Geography was also my best subject. I was going to major in it at university but in second year couldn’t get the courses I wanted so ended up with a History major, a hel_l of a lot of good that has done me. Any way getting back to the subject at hand, if I planted all 11 rai or even half of it I would have 165 metre runs. The lay out would be 25, 165-metre rows with 109 plants in each row for 2,725 plants. I may by pass the wife at first and go out with my cousin to operate the two-wheel tractor and just do one Rai in which case there would be 25, 40-metre rows. Thanks again for all the help. I am almost sure I will plant one rai and if the numbers work out and I can sell the product then I am sure I can convince the wife on planting more. Just one last question before I lay down for the night, do you have any idea how much of the retail price a wholesaler would take. (I know how long is a piece of string) but you might be able to give me a ballpark figure. Thanks again for all your info. Issangeorge.

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