By Freddie Ndindana
When you are passing or driving next to a beautiful farm with crops that are in good shape and well managed, sometimes you start to think of farming or ask yourself what farming takes.
You’ve dreamt of becoming a successful farmer, and you’re prepared to venture into the ever-changing world of the farming business. All that is left is to trade in your current job or day-to-day engagements for farming as a profession. Venturing into farming is not an easy decision to make. Any experienced farmer will tell you that pursuing farming requires learning some critical lessons to ensure you’re on the right path to agricultural and economic freedom.
While the following proven steps may not always guarantee success, it takes hard work, perseverance, and intelligent adaptation to new farming innovations to be a successful farmer. Starting out will not be easy. Let’s have a look at some of the top tips you should consider when starting a small-scale farm.
- DEVELOP A THOUGHTFUL PLAN
Successful farming operations are based on diligent planning. A plan will help you decide what type of farming you want to engage in, where and how you will do it. You need to explore different options and pick one that suits you best and go ahead and seek some advice from already established farmers.
Any farming plan must include proper risk management. People get sick, equipment can break down, accidents can happen and the weather is largely unpredictable. In short, anything can happen, so plan for the worst. Proper planning and diligent execution of all on-farm and off-farm activities will determine your success or otherwise on the farm.
- GET THE RIGHT FARMING EQUIPMENT
You can’t start farming without the right farming equipment. Whether you’re venturing into small-scale farming, large-scale farming, livestock farming or poultry farming, you need the right investments before starting out. This is where most new farmers fail. According to few construction companies, think through your major purchases, determine how best to finance them and how that investment will benefit you and your farm.
- IDENTIFY YOUR TARGET MARKET
So you want to grow watermelons, start a vegetable selling business or raise cattle? But have you done your research well? How will you find sustainable customers? What will you do if they buy all your farm produce? What if they don’t buy and you have got a barn full of a harvest?
You need to figure out where you’re going to sell your products, who will buy them and how you’re going to do it. Once you’ve done that, create a backup plan, because you’ll certainly need it. Without an appropriate market to sell to, you’ll make losses. A solid marketing plan is critical before you even think of planting your first seed or buying your first cow.
- DO WHAT YOU LOVE
Everyone agrees that farming is hard work. Do yourself a favour and grow something that you love. Like, do you love potatoes? Then grow potatoes. So long as you’re matching your land or farm to its suited use, you’ll be on the right path to gaining some meaningful steps forward. It may not seem true, but people are driven by finances and so-called traditions rather than their passion when it comes to making farming decisions.
- HAVE REASONABLE GOALS
Remember that a farmer is a businessman first and farmer second. You may be talented, have that visionary plan or even have the finances to bankroll a new farming venture, but you need to start out small and have reasonable goals that are achievable. Find your pace and set goals that you can track.
- MANAGE YOUR CASH FLOW
It’s very important that you track your income and expenditure. Keep all your receipts, invoices and all other relevant documents related to income and expenditure on your new farm. It makes sense to keep records so you can easily track transactions and your financial progress. This way, you can know which months have the highest income and demand for money.
- LEARN, ASK QUESTIONS AND SHARE YOUR KNOWLEDGE
If you don’t like reading and learning, it’s time things changed. Farming is a progressive venture where learning new skills, farming techniques and innovations as well as sharing knowledge is part of day-to-day life. Don’t just pick up a new skill and apply it. Ask questions regarding how best you can use it to benefit you. There are numerous farm-based training programs where you can learn much more about farming.
Conclusively, farming is one of the most rewarding ventures today, but it takes good planning, research, training and constant adaptation to changes to be successful. As one old farmer once said, there’s no better-refined group of people in this world than those who call themselves farmers.
Freddie Ndindana can be contacted on [email protected]