Kenya is a country with so many farmers. Not just Kenya, but Africa. Nearly half of the African people are farmers, but there are two unbelievable sad fact that I would like to outline in this blog article.
First, Africa, though with millions of farmers, cannot feed herself. We still waste (or spend) billions of dollars to import food, every year.
Second, most farmers in Africa are not making meaningful money from farming
You may not be concerned about the fact that Africa, (a continent with millions of farmers) is still importing food, but you may be interested in knowing how to actually make (much) money from farming.
Either way, pay attention to what I have to share with you through this post.
If you follow the trend of things in our dear continent (Africa), you’ll observe that in recent time, there has been consistent emphasis on the need to go back, fully into the farm.
In fact, a Nigerian musician (Beautiful Nubia) “preaches” that in his song, “Let’s go back to the land. A nation that cannot feed itself will remain (a slave) to other”
Why do African leaders encouraging citizen to go back to the farm?
Recent deepening economic crises.
In recent time, there has been economic woes all over the world and the African countries are not exception, in fact, we are crying much more.
Many of the African countries who are blessed with natural resources can no longer depend on such resources as their prices in the international market has fallen (some as low as 70% or more)
Unemployment is another common woe and the African leaders ignorantly think simply sending youths to the farm could be the solution.
Now you understand the reason why there are so much noise about going “back to the farm”
Why I am not in anyway against diversifying the economy to the various sector, including agriculture, I think there is something we are seriously missing up here and that’s the reason for writing this post.
What exactly is that?
Most Africans don’t see Agriculture as “business”, none approach it as business.
This is the reason why, in a continent where almost half of our citizen are farmers, we are still importing food, in a large quantity.
In the years 2015 alone, Africa continent imported foods worth over $40 billion. Do you find that hard to believe?
Yes, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. But why? Why should a continent where we have (probably) largest numbers of farmers still be importing food?
I think the reason is because we don’t see farming as business. To most people, it’s just a profession they inherited from their fathers, just to plant, grow and feed the family, then sell, if the produce remains.
If our youths are trained and encouraged to approach agriculture as business, this continent will soon be feeding the whole world and we’ll not have reason to import a penny of agricultural produce.
I think it’s possible.
If you ever intend to make real money from farming, here are 7 things you should do;
1. Stop thinking like a mere farmer.
My father was a cocoa farmer in Nigeria. Growing up in a village where almost everybody was a farmer made me to understand how most African farmers think.
To them, they are just doing what they inherited from their father (as their fathers inherited it from their forefathers). They plough, plant, grow and eat, then sell the left over.
If you really want to make good money from farming, your idea of farming will need to be different.
So, to start with, first, stop thinking you’re just a farmer, like just any other farmer. How then should you think?
Like a business man/woman. Like someone with a mission, like someone in the game of business.
The next thing you should do is;
2. Take time to get business education
This is probably the strangest thing you can ever tell someone who is planning to be a farmer. Business education? What is that and how does that make sense to a farmer?
Well, I have advised you earlier to stop seeing yourself as a mere farmer, but a business owner. Because you’re planning to be an entrepreneur, there is a need for you to get business education.
The reason is very simple; you’re not going into farming, instead, you’re going into business, as a farmer.
So, go ahead and read those good business books. Take time to study a lot about marketing. Study about negotiation, leadership, human relationship, human management and cash flow management, even more.
The next thing is to;
3. Invest time to learn and research your farm produce.
I was talking on phone with a farmer business man some month ago (I call him “farmer business man” because that’s what he is). He told me how he travelled from Nigeria to Holland to go and learn how to hatch catfish.
This man was passionate about fish farming and he had to travel to Europe, just to go and learn catfish hatchery.
You would want to think this is very silly. Of course, hatching fish is not a complex science. In fact, you can learn how to hatch fish from any city in Kenya or elsewhere in Africa, but this man, because he never wanted to be “just a farmer”, because he wanted to be exceptional, he sacrificed to go and learn from a source he thought would make him better than other farmers.
That’s how true business people think.
I also heard about another person who travelled in a similar way abroad, just to go and learn how to plant and grow cucumber.
Hearing that you may think he is stupid, but today he (according to what I heard) is making millions, just from being a cucumber’s grower and expert.
Such a man is no longer a mere farmer, but a business owner, successful one, I think.
I think that should be your goal.
Now listen to me. I am not advocating that you have to travel from Kenya to England to go and learn how to plant tomatoes or yam. No. That’s not what I am saying.
My point is; seek knowledge, do your research, learn extra things than other people about whatever area of the agribusiness you’re planning to go into.
I hope you get my point? Thank you.
4. Think big, very big
There are many millionaire farmers today all around the world but you know something? Those were the big thinkers.
If you’re going into crop production or animal husbandry, your goal should be to grow big, I mean, very big.
Your goal is not to end up being the owner of a plot of land, doing maize farming. Your mission is not to end up with 3,000 fishes (as a fish farmer). Your goal is to become a giant farmer. Your goal is to employ 10, 50, 100 and more people.
Now don’t get me wrong. Thinking big isn’t the same thing as starting big. You may not start big, but you must think big so as to grow big.
As I sat down to write this post, I received a call from a woman by the name Mrs. Mary. She called to tell me how my encouragement had made her to start a small business in the year 2014/15. According to her, the business is now growing big.
That’s what I am encouraging you to do here. You may start your agribusiness small, but your mission is to grow big, very big, so you have to think big, even from the start.
5. Adopt mechanised farming and never go alone
It’s painful and heart-breaking that most farmers in Africa (even in this twenty first century) are still using obsolete farm equipment and methods.
You should know (and do) better! There is no way you could grow to become a very successful agripreneur if you’re still practising farming the way your father did it.
Plus, don’t try to go alone. Work with other people. Think of employing some people. Two are better than one.
6. Research and understand your intending market
As a business man/woman, you have to understand the market you are planning to play in. You must understand the market players, your competitors, consumers and other market influencers.
No farmer will want to do this but every serious entrepreneur will. Since you’re not just a farmer but an entrepreneur, why won’t you pay a little attention to your market.
Do a little research. Know where and how to sell your farm produce and at what price, even before you start the farm.
I have heard the sad stories from many farmers who got stranded and confused at the time of harvest, because they didn’t know where to sell their farm produce.
Such farmers will be forced to sell at low, unprofitable price. Take time to understand your potential market, even before you start farming.
This will help you to understand what you’re going into and how to be smarter than other people.
7. Don’t expect quick riches
Not only in agribusiness but in everything we call business today. No quick riches. Don’t expect it. It won’t happen.
As a right thinking entrepreneur, you must be able to endure your first few years in the business world.
Those earlier years are not time of great reward so don’t panic if things seem not to be working well at the beginning.
In every human endeavour, there is always a time of great sacrifice. Such time is when you’re just starting your agribusiness.
Though, as humans, we want to be rich, quick, NOW, it never work out like that.
So, be persistent and focused and one day, you will make real, good money from your business as a farmer.
To conclude, I think we could have a new continent, better countries and richer people, if we are willing to approach farming and agriculture with a business mindset, as I have expressed in this post.
Written by Stephen OlorunNi – CEO, Africabusinessclassroom.com
Image courtesy of ldcnews.com