FARMING is like any other business. One must always be cognisant of what they are doing, why they are doing it, how they are doing what they are doing and what they expect to achieve in whatever procedure they will be undertaking. One’s personal lack of interest in investing time researching, consulting, visiting other farms and trying to find ways of improving their farm setup usually leads to below average or average yields, stagnant profit margins, unsold produce, poor soil quality and a host of other avoidable situations.
A profitable farming venture requires adherence to recommended farming procedures. No-one knows it all in farming. The holistic value of skills, knowledge, expertise and efficient management systems in farming cannot be undermined regardless of how trivial these may seem. Crop production and animal rearing are successful ventures for those that take farming seriously.
A farmer’s quest for perfection, does not only see him or her graduating from just a plant or animal manager but he or she becomes an influential role player and contributor to the farming sector as an innovator, scientist and entrepreneur.
We make choices every day and even the decision to not make a choice is still a choice. Every procedure we undertake and do not undertake contributes to either the success or failure of the farming project. Thus, the farmer must from the beginning be at the forefront of all procedures required in whichever venture he or she is involved in. The farmer steers the cyclical process of the farm project from conception to saving profits.
There are quite a number of factors that a farmer must consider. For the farmer involved in crop production some of these are; the farming region, soil type and quality, water source and quality, type of crop to grow and market to supply, mechanised or un-mechanised land preparation, spacing, when to plant, fertilisation procedure, machinery to purchase, utilise or hire, irrigation method required (it can be temporary or permanent), amount of land to utilise, crop rotation, pest, disease, insect, fungi control, farm personnel to hire, financing of farming activities and accountability of financial resources through bookkeeping and inventories.
For those involved in animal rearing considerations will look at the farming region, water source and quality, animal breed to rear and market to supply, mechanised or un-mechanised animal management systems, spacing, pasture maintenance, machinery to purchase, utilise or hire, abattoir location, culling, animal fattening procedures, pregnancy, vaccination programmes, timing of animal killings, amount of land to utilise, disease, insect, and virus control, farm personnel to hire, financing of farming activities and accountability of financial resources through bookkeeping and inventories.
The assessment of all these factors may seem like a rigorous activity, however, the more a farmer immerses themselves into their farming activity the more improvements they will be able to make and they will definitely find more opportunities within and outside their enterprise.
Two farmers may sell a cow of a particular breed. One farmer looks to make more than five thousand dollars and yet another farmer looks to make only a tenth of that amount.
This is the farming reality occurring in Zimbabwe right now. These disparities are evidence of the different levels of sophistication and production existent within the farming sector. Some hybrid seeds have a fifty percent plus more yields than normal seeds furthermore they possess higher resistivity to pest, insects, viral and fungi attacks.
One farmer using Seed-Co’s SC719 seed harvested about 21 tonnes of maize from just one hectare, a figure another farmer may conclude fictitious and impossible. Snake breeders make over $2 000 from the sale of just 10 millilitres of snake venom. Other Zimbabwean farmer produce is on a plane right now and yet another farmer struggles just to transport their produce to a local market by road. All of us start off from somewhere, from the basics of farming.
These basics of farming provide the foundation from which to build our various farming businesses. As we constantly meet these requirements our profits increase, we provide employment opportunities for our community members, we supply new markets with greater volumes of produce, we come up with new agricultural products, we are able to provide new and exciting services for the agricultural community and we broaden agricultural borders that other farmers will posteriorly increase and build.
Someone once told me a tale of men looking at the moon. One said to himself, “I will go there one day” and the other said to himself, “Yes, the moon is beautiful”. We can be more than what we are now and we must exert ourselves to go beyond what is considered average and seek to be more. Our Zimbabwe can once again revert back to being at the helm of exporting farming produce not only within southern African but reaching greener markets beyond our continent.
The writer is Eng Tapuwa Justice Mashangwa, Chief Consultant at Emerald Agribusiness Consultancy based in Bulawayo. He can be contacted on +263739096418 and +263771641714 and email; [email protected]