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Before you say I do…… to Farming
Agro-business

Before you say I do…… to Farming 

It is mid-January and the hullabaloo of New Year greetings has died down. So has the depression of unmet New Year resolutions. The beauty of resolutions in my view, is that out of ten resolutions an average person will follow through with two or three. If you are disciplined enough you will be lucky to succeed in four or five.

Nonetheless, I see resolution making as more of a ritual to uplift yourself and drive you to new limits. Making resolutions makes you prioritize on your goals. It gives you a sense of direction and that is what is important. Well, that is my long and winding way of saying Happy 2016, with the obvious omission of New Year. And perhaps telling you that it is okay to make resolutions on January 1st and break plenty of them by January 10th.

 

Sweet tales of agribusiness

Back to agribusiness, the focus of this blog, there are several young people getting lured into agriculture as a source of stable income. A substantial number of graduates are now finding agribusiness to be an exciting career choice. Agribusiness is currently a hot venture, no dispute.  Bloggers, myself included, have taken to the internet to make agriculture sound even sexier. The truth is that agribusiness has an attractive bottom line that is hard to resist.

To prove this, try sit with young people who are already making a killing from agriculture. Their gusto for the trade will make you want to quit your job and get your hands dirty too. These digital farmers will give you the figures they make and you will want to pack your bags and head back to the village to farm. However, you will make sure you have access to the internet so that you can keep up with the latest research and trends.

This happened to me last year as I interviewed at least 10 young farmers and attended a few conferences. I so badly wanted to forfeit my career and become a farmer. I could not resist the sweet tales and tidy returns that were coming from Mother Nature. I mean, how hard would it be to pick up a Dollar to make three hundred thousand a month?

Luckily, I didn’t have the required money to invest and that held me back. I was so determined that without land nor prior experience I was ready to get started. I say I was lucky because I was not prepared for the dirty side of agriculture. I only had three months experience of writing and colouring other people’s success in agribusiness. That does not in any way make me an agribusiness pundit.

This situation got me thinking that perhaps before investing your hard earned cash in agribusiness, you should take a breather and ask yourself whether you are cut out for agriculture. Talk to someone who is in agribusiness. Ask them how they got there. Find out what time they get up and what time they get to sleep. Find out how many times they got disappointed by a failing crop or dying animals before hitting the jack pot. Find out what keeps them going despite their produce being a glut on the market, or a drug on the market.

 

10 things to consider

Here are ten things that you need to think about before ditching that job to get into agribusiness:

  1. Passion for agriculture

Before entertaining the thought of diving into agriculture, ask yourself if you have any interest whatsoever in agriculture? The returns might sound enticing but are you the kind of person who likes plants or animals and taking care of them? Have you previously done anything to do with agriculture? Do you even have a kitchen garden? If you hate the thought of dirt on your hands, then agribusiness is not for you.

  1. Identify your area of interest

After assuring yourself that indeed agriculture is one of your passions, then start analyzing what area to focus on. You cannot excel in agribusiness if you are a jack of all trades. Pick one area and focus on it. If chicken farming is your thing then pursue it entirely.

  1. Do your research

After clearly defining your area of interest, get information about it. You will require technical knowledge about that crop or livestock you have narrowed down to. You need to know the best practice(s) that will yield best results. Identify the opportunities available in your chosen field. Find out how you can strategically add value to what exists to gain an advantage over your competitors.

  1. Planning

Getting into agribusiness without a business plan is like shooting your foot and later wondering why you cannot walk. Have a clear business plan and assess the risks of your business. Agribusiness has money making in it. You therefore have to treat it like any other business. Dry run planning will reduce the possibility of your venture failing.

In addition, consider all the requirements necessary to start off your business. Do you have land? If you don’t, how do you intend to acquire one? How much will it cost? How far is the land from your nearest selling point? What will be your means of transport and how much does it cost?

  1. Start with the end in mind

Market is the end in business. The primary goal of getting into agribusiness is to make profit. Before you get into any form of agribusiness, find out if there is a market for your product and seek a thorough understanding of that market. This saves you the hassle of having a product and no market for it in the long run.

  1. Have some savings

To set up a business you need money. To get into agribusiness will also require you to invest generously before you start reaping anything. My advice is that you stay clear of loans if you can and invest your savings instead. Agribusiness is risky for a starter. You are safer investing your savings than investing money that you do not have, a.k.a loans.

  1. Do not invest all your life savings

Since you are taking a risk by investing in agribusiness, you should have some money put aside in case things do not work out as planned.

  1. Network

Get to know people. Make friends in the agribusiness sector both online and offline; this way you will have people to share your experience with and to learn from. Join farmer groups on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. Contribute to agricultural discussions online.

Most importantly, cultivate healthy relationships with your suppliers and customers.

  1. Commitment

Agribusiness is just like any other business; it has its fair share of risks. In fact, I would rate it as a high risk business. You need a neat mix of tough skin and passion to survive. Numerous challenges will come your way and you have to be committed to the venture to get back on your feet every so often. Your entire crop might dry up due to a strange disease and there will be little that you can do. Your commitment to that business will drive you to continue despite such painful disappointments.

  1. Have options

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is insanity. This is one of my favourite aphorisms because it’s true! If after three years you realize that you have not made any profit in your agribusiness venture, then perhaps it’s time to pitch tent elsewhere. Keep an open mind and be ready to exit when the time comes.

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