Farming is an endeavour that allows a person to be involved in the growing of crops or keeping domestic animals for the purpose of producing food and raw materials.
Over the course of time, farming has rapidly evolved to incorporate technological and scientific advancements to make it a sustainable undertaking that utilises resources such as land and water efficiently. These advancements have enabled the achievement of food security and significant revenues in many developed economies.
However, aspiring farmers need to keep key considerations in mind when deciding to become a farmer.
Before you embark on your farming venture there are critical questions that one must be able to answer in order to make the farming journey a success. The first and most important question is: Why do you want to farm? This question will easily help an aspiring farmer to have a purpose or objective as to why he/she wants to farm.
This question has to be followed by asking: What do you want to produce? This question helps a farmer understand that from the wide range of products available, he/she can focus on producing one or two with determination.
For example, if one wants to be a livestock or crop farmer, they must decide to either focus on the production of cattle, sheep, goats, poultry, pigs, or crops. If one opts to produce livestock (cattle, sheep, and goats), aspiring farmers should identify their product of choice (breeding stock, weaners, oxen, or steers) to produce from their cattle-farming venture.
Aspiring crop farmers on the other hand may decide to focus on growing agronomy crops such as maize, pearl millet, wheat, or sorghum for grain production or to produce vegetables such as tomatoes, cabbages, potatoes, etc.
The third question is whom are you producing for? This question helps you identify your potential target market, which will be the immediate consumers of your product. Furthermore, this helps you to properly plan your production to meet sufficient quantities demanded by your target market.
The fourth question is: What are your expectations? This question addresses the farmer‘s envisaged output from the farming operations in the form of revenue and profit. Farmers are also encouraged to keep records that they can use to assess their progress, costs, and incomes.
This will enable any farmer to answer this critical last question: Is farming a business? Once you decide to embark on a farming journey, it should always be noted that once money is invested, one should anticipate a return on investment, and this makes farming a business.
Starting a farm is a complicated endeavour because it encompasses a myriad of aspects. In no particular order, farmers must consider business planning, finding land, securing financing, marketing, production selection, production knowledge, securing equipment, developing or securing infrastructure, and their vision for their farm. Moreover, an aspiring farmer should be cognizant of their knowledge and experience levels. In the final analysis, addressing these questions may ease the planning process and enable farmers to set up sustainable and profitable farming businesses.
Hanks Saisai is Agribank’s Technical Advisor: Crops and Poultry