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Popcorn Production Farm

  1. Product Description: Three types of seeds or kernels of popcorn are known in the world market, i.e. white, small yellow and large yellow, i.e. white, small yellow and large yellow. White popcorn has a rice shaped seed, are pearl-shaped. The three types are required in the market for different purposes, and growers and /or markets must take that in to consideration when selecting seeds. Popcorn is produced commercially for human consumption as versatile and nutritious snack and enjoyed both sweet and savory by fans around the world. Popcorn is the only type of all corns that actually pops.


To be high quality, popcorn must be free of any contaminations, insect and rodent damage. The volume of popped corn produced form a given weight of unpopped seeds is the most important factor influencing the economic value of popcorn. Research results have indicated that maximum popping from 13.00 to 14.5%, with 13.5% being optimum. Hence popcorn at 14.5% moisture can be safely stored for six months.


  1. Rationale: There are several thousand of corn (maize) grown through out the world. These cultivars can be grouped in to seven types; namely, dent, flint, sweet, pod, waxy, and popcorns. Hence popcorn is one of the cultivars of maize that can be grown in maize growing areas of the region. Like another maize cultivars, popcorn in a warm weather loving crop. It can be best grown where mean temperature vary between 21-27 0c with annual rain fall range of 600 to 1000mm. Popcorn is reasonably drought tolerant crop at early stage of growth than at later stages. Such suitable areas are available in the region where investors can profitably grow popcorn.


  1. Market Potentials: Cereals can supply sufficient quantities of carbohydrates. Being one of the cereals grain, popcorn contains mainly carbohydrates. Humans consume popcorn as versatile and nutritious snack and enjoyed both sweet and savory by fans around the world. Hence one factor which makes it popular is its nutritional value. One cup of air-popped popcorn contains 31 calories, 1 gram protein, 6 grams of carbohydrate 1 gram of fiber and a trace of fat. Plus it is a favorite sneak of all consumers of all age. In Ethiopia it is very common snack served at coffee ceremony of every household, bars, restaurants and big hotels.


On the other hand, popcorn is not significantly produced locally s it's widely consumed. So far consumption is supplied by import. The current retail price of popcorn (un popped) indicates that consumption is constrained by supply. Popcorn retrial price is birr 10.50 per kg whereas the current price for maize is not more than Birr 2.00 per kg. This signals the need for local production. The Amhara Region has large suitable areas for popper production as indicted in the rational section.


  1. Source of Raw Material: The basic raw materials for the production of popcorn are seeds, agro chemicals, fertilizers and packing materials. Except popcorn seeds all are locally available. Improved or hybrids seeds should be imported from USA or any other popcorn producing countries. In the long-run, improved seed producing farms should be encouraged to be developed in the region.


  1. Production Process and Technology: Useful seedbed preparation (plowing and disking) is important because the seed size is small a clod -free seedbed with good filth will ensure coverage of the seed placed deep enough to be in contact with moist soil. Hence, popcorn should be planted in clod-free seedbed in a well drained soil. Early planting will assure full maturity of the seed at harvest. Early to Mid-May is an ideal time for popcorn planting and plating population of 50,000 plants /ha for rain-fed and 70,000 plants /ha for irrigation is recommendable to attain high yield.


A soil test is recommended to determine the application rate of fertilizers. With application of irrigation popcorn gives best yield, chemicals commonly used as herbicides are atrazine and lasso or sandoz. Other disease and pests control chemicals can be applied as deemed necessary (consulting the extension service of the region).


In 90-110 days time, popcorn is ready for harvest. Popcorn is mature when the stalks and leaves are brown and dry, the seeds are hard. Popcorn can be harvested with a combine or labor depending on the scale of operation, costs, and the quality of seeds required with combine costs may be less but there will be more damaged seeds reducing in popping volume. The quality of popcorn will be high with labor but may increase costs.


  1. Investment Cost Estimate: Investment in popcorn farm establishment is similar to that of soybean farm establishment. Land development, construction of buildings of stores, offices residence houses machinery shades; purchases of farm machinery and transport vehicles are the major investment cost is estimated at Birr 10,000 /ha and working capital of Birr 4000/ha.


  1. Benefit: Popcorn is a favorite snack of all consumers of all ages and it is popular for its nutritional value. It is an excellent source of carbohydrate and widely consumed. Hence investment in the production of popcorn will reward investors in the form of profit, generates revenue to the regional states in the form of income tax and VAT.


  1. Location: Popcorn farm can be developed in mid and low lands of Awi, West Gojam and North zones maize, haricot beans and soybeans grow well.