A careful assessment shows that value-added Farming is an important component of sustainable rural development. The future of value-added Farming will depend on the involvement and commitment of farmers and rural residents. Success is not dependent on any government program. Although the government can play an important role, it is only a supplemental role. The key driver is farmers and rural residents who want to shoulder the responsibility for making it work.
Value-added Farming entails changing a raw agricultural product into something new through packaging, processing, cooling, drying, extracting or any other type of process that differentiates the product from the original raw commodity. Examples of value added agricultural products include yogurt, jam, juice, pumpkin flour, banana flour, crisps, e.t.c. Adding value to agricultural products is a worthwhile endeavor because of the higher returns that come with the investment, the opportunity to open new markets and extend the producer’s marketing season as well as the ability to create new recognition for the farm. Increasingly, value-added products are hitting the local market as producers take advantage of high-demand product niches. This is the key to success in value added Farming—niche markets are where smaller producers can be most successful in creating value and establishing a profitable business.
Challenges of Value-added farming to Kenyans
Value added Farming is not without its challenges to farmers. One of the largest hurdles to overcome is that of food business and safety regulations. For example, if you are interested in taking your tree tomatoes and turning them into a high quality jam that you can sell at the local farmers’ market, you must be a licensed. These regulation challenges make it difficult to get started in the value added business, but with a solid business plan in place, producers can be successful in overcoming obstacles to their food business dream.
Another example of a significant challenge for starting a value-added business is putting together your recipes or formulations for the product you are developing. For instance, making soap requires time and effort in finding the right recipe for high-quality soap. You will also want to research the market potential for your product in order to define your customer profile, so that you are not wasting your time in formulating a product that will not sell.
Starting a value-added agricultural business is an exciting opportunity for the small farmer interested in diversifying and exploring new markets, but starting small and finding your niche is key to your long-term success. Evaluate the risks associated with the business and have a solid plan in place to keep you on the right track.
Market opportunities exist for the creation of viable value-added businesses. The question facing us is whether farmers and rural residents have the skills and commitment to take advantage of good opportunities and build them into viable businesses. Oxfarm Ag is designed to help you identify and assess these opportunities and build successful businesses especially in the tree fruit business.
One successful farmer and entrepreneur that we have partnered with is Tamarillo farm in Mweiga Nyeri. The company makes jam, juice and chilli sauce from tree tomato fruits. You too can make it, just dream and follow your dreams.