Farming in Kenya is considered as one of the oldest human professions. Regrettably, this noble job of producing food has somehow went out of fashion. In most counties in Kenya, farming and agriculture in general is seen as a one-way ticket to poverty and drudgery. Young people are abandoning the countryside to seek better opportunities in urban areas.
However, Oxfarm in its research recently have met more and more young people who are taking farming as a profession and as a practical source of profit. This is mostly because of the change in the perspective of how young people see farming.
This positive view of agriculture has increased with the growth of global population. A bigger the population means more people to feed, and therefore more food to produce. Organic food is also gaining popularity due to its high nutritional benefit.
Along these lines, the need to produce food locally is also seen as a sustainable solution to the ever-increasing food requirement. Recently H.E President Uhuru Kenyatta launched his Agenda 4, and named food security as one of them. Although farming is faced by many challenges in Kenya, it still stands as one of the major pillars of Kenyan economy
Different peoples have different perspectives on what they think they must know while planning to start farming. From a management and marketing perspective, here are few tips to consider — whether you are new to farming or have been farming your whole life.
Make Farming plans
In order to have a successful farming operation, especially in today’s farm economy, it’s essential to have a plan — and more than one, at that.
Make a business plan and stick to it. This is a living document, so refer to it throughout the year and make changes as needed.
A marketing plan will help you decide what products you are planning to sell, when and where you will sell them (grain elevator, farmers markets, wholesale, restaurants).
A risk management plan is essential. Accidents happen, people get sick, equipment breaks, the weather is unpredictable — in short, life happens, so plan for the worst.
Make an operations plan. Think about all the activities needed to make your business successful and who will be in charge of what tasks. I.e. who will keep the books, who will run the parlor, who will do the field work, who will run the breeding program, etc.
Selling agricultural products is often a cash business and you need to be careful with all that money. Create a plan that tracks every penny you earn and spend and create ways to get that cash into the bank.
Farm equipment and livestock equipment, as well as livestock itself, are expensive but they are essential investments for the farm. Think through your major purchases, determine how you will finance them and how that investment will benefit the farm.
Surround yourself with people who will pick you up when you are down but also give you tough love if you are headed in the wrong direction. Find fellow farmers and business professionals outside of farming who can give you good, honest advice from a fresh perspective.
Pick one enterprise that you really like, that you’re good at, and has money-making potential. There are only 24 hours in a day, so spend your time on the ones that make your business successful. Don’t stretch yourself thin by getting too diversified when you are not ready. The same goes for markets: Focus your time in places that are the most profitable for you.
Analytical and Critical Thinking Skills
Almost anyone can learn how to grow crops or manage livestock, but good analytical skills are the difference between simply going through the motions and thinking issues through and doing tasks well. For example, in the ever-changing landscape of farming (literally and figuratively), an organic farmer will use comprehensive skills to monitor and assess the quality of their land, crops or livestock and to solve problems as they arise.
As a farmer, you often must think on the fly, so great critical thinking skills are also key. For example, can you think your way around tough weather conditions appropriately?
Excellent analytical and critical thinking skills will allow you to analyze the toughest situations, gather new information and formulate a plan that may be outside of the box. You won’t be able to solve every organic farm problem with a textbook.
Don’t be afraid to change your plans when things are not working. Review your farm plans and make the changes necessary to continue to make your operation successful.