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14 Key Questions-Issues to Consider in Order to Choose (& Startup) The Right Farm Business
What I said above is the daily dramatization of the lives of many people who join the dream of catfish farming for example. Most have only heard that people make “money” from catfish farming. They decide to attend one of the many seminars a day offered by many “experts” (some don’t even bother going through this step!).
Then, depending on the sketchy – usually introductory level – information given to them, they start their own businesses, and discover to their shock MANY issues arise that their “teacher” did not warn them about. If they are lucky if they ask, he (ie the “teacher”) may offer support or help. If they are NOT, they will find themselves left high and dry.
One aspect of the catfish production business here that the scenario painted above is readily applicable, is finding a continuous READY and RELIABLE market outlet for the fingerlings and/or table size catfish you produce. Note that I’m referring here to an “outlet” or “outlets” that ensure(s) you can continue to sell at competitive prices that guarantee you enough margins to not only stay in business, but also gradually build capacity to expand your operations.
I’ve seen people go ahead and produce 5,000 or more fingerlings in the normal 4 to 5 weeks it takes, only to struggle to find buyers for weeks AFTER – while having to keep FEEDING of fingerlings ) has long been sold. This may happen because they rely on the promises made by some friends and colleagues who claim that they will buy, because they need a ready source of fingerlings to start their own farms or ” feeding” those they already have or have access to. in.
Below, I will now discuss fourteen (14) important questions/issues that you should consider to better prepare you to choose (& successfully start) the right farm business.
1. What type of farm business to run: Is it an animal or a plant – or a mixture of the two? Do you fit the type you want to start? Do you enjoy doing it every day, even if it can be challenging?
You have to be honest with yourself here; otherwise you may find yourself regretting the decision to start the business once you’ve pumped your hard-earned money into it.
2. What size farm to operate: Is it small, medium or large? What specific dimensions (eg 100m x 100m) are suitable for your farm business – especially considering future growth and expansion?
3. What production methods and/or operations will you use? This can be a function of the size of the land or space available. You can choose to operate on “intensive” or “extensive” for example.
4. How much automation should you use – or should you use? For catfish farming, is a recirculating system good, given your resources and budget? Or is an earthen pond system sufficient? Maybe you can start from the latter and graduate to the former, after gaining some experience? The same logic applies to crop farming.
5. Can you use family work or paid work? Or will you use both – in different areas of your operation eg family members may act more in supervisory or administrative roles. No matter what you choose in their area of operation, you must show the salary rate for family work every time you use it, to avoid reducing your costs.
6. What is your Credit/Capital Source? This issue is not as straight forward as most people think. Where you come from will always affect the way you run your business, including what you do with most of your income. And sometimes, you may not be very happy with what you are forced to do with that money at some point, by those who give you capital or credit.
7. What is your capital profile? It will show how much is needed at each stage of production, and will always help you determine when to borrow and when not to.
8. What is your loan profile? The problem here is usually that the money given as a loan is NOT released when the farmer needs it because of administrative or bureaucratic bottlenecks on the part of the loan provider. The result is that if the farmer is late, he uses it for consumption, and therefore cannot pay.
So there are two dimensions to the loan issue, which is required to have (a) Production Loan (b) Consumption Loan.
If the farmer survives, and succeeds in using the loan provided to achieve the intended business objective, the provider MUST make changes to increase the Consumption Loan to the Production Loan.
If this is not done, the farmer may incur his production debt. Consumption Loans are usually used by farmers to take care of things such as children’s school fees, buying books and so on.
If you are planning to apply for a loan, consider the above if it applies to you, and make a case for a Consumption Loan if appropriate.
LEARN HOW TO BORROW RIGHT!
But how do you know if a loan with an interest rate paid by the loan provider will be beneficial? Is there a way to calculate ahead and determine with reasonable accuracy, if the business for which you intend to apply the loan MAY provide a sufficient return to match the interest rate you will pay, leaving enough for you to make a profit ?
9. What is the right time to produce? This is important for agricultural businesses. In fact, I would say this is the number ONE (1) issue you MUST consider! Without establishing a reliable marketing/sales outlet(s) for your intended product, you run the risk of ending up with harvests or ripe products without any buyers available.
If you start production too early or too late, you can lose out completely – depending on the type of business you are in. For example, taking advantage of early rains can be important to get a good corn harvest.
10. What is the right time to sell and WHERE? One of the keys to success in business is given as speculation correctly when to sell, and where. Most people in broiler production for example, time their sales around holidays (Christmas etc.), because outside of such festive periods, broilers tend to command a small amount in the market. .
The farmer who is most focused on market trends, knows where to find buyers, and when/where prices are lowest, highest etc.
As I have mentioned elsewhere, it is said that the educated farmer is one who knows the difference between January and June, as it relates to earning sales of his products.
11. How do you get the land you will use? This is important because how you get it will determine how you can use it, or what you can do with it. For example, if you do NOT own the land, you may not be able to start a tree crop, such as cocoa or rubber on it – for obvious reasons: the owner may have someone else plans, and may not like the idea of having his land tied up for decades in that way.
12. How do you deal with entering the competition? Just as you are thinking of starting this farm business, someone else is thinking the same thing. One or more of such “others” may in the future, after you have started yours, decide to do the same thing. What do you have in place to ensure you keep a competitive edge with entrants to gain a share of your market share?
13. What type of building, water system (eg dam, borehole, and well) etc. will you use in the farm? This will influence the type of farm business you can successfully run. For example, when raising delicate livestock such as catfish fingerlings, water quality/integrity must always be reliable. This makes the use of a borehole, possibly with some intermediate treatment unit necessary.
14. You must accept/take responsibility for your actions, and decision making. No matter how many people you consult and get ideas about producing or selling/selling your produce on the farm, YOU will ultimately be the one to deal with the results of your decision making on the farm.
As the top man, money is ALWAYS on your desk.
This is why you need to do a lot of thinking about the above-mentioned issues before starting your farm business, so that you can better prepare yourself to make the decisions that will position your farm business. succeed in the long term.
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