So you want to be a farmer; are you ready?
Farming is increasingly looking like a viable source of income in Kenya. Every day, more young people are looking to venture into farming, especially after hearing the successes of their peers. Before you quit your job for gumboots, overalls and a panga however, there are a few things you need to look at. The first question you need to ask yourself, do you have the passion for agriculture? Is this your area of interest? Are you ready to be a farmer? If the answer to these questions is yes, then let’s try and tick some more boxes.
- Do you have a particular area of interest?
Agriculture is a very broad venture. If you are looking to get into farming, what you cannot do is take on everything at once. You also cannot go feeling around blindly. The first thing you need to do is identify what sort of farming you interests you. Are you into chicken farming or spinach and bell peppers? Whatever your area of interest, pick that one area and focus on it.
- Have you done your research?
Now that you have an area of interest lined up, the next step should be to do as much research on it as you possibly can. Get as much information as you possibly can on anything there is to know. Learn the best practices, best feeds, best pesticides, best fertilizers and their application. Do certain crops need folia feed? You had better know all of this. While researching, it is important to verify some of this information with an expert or get it purely from a credible source. Remember, not all information is good information.
- What’s the plan?
The third thing you need before you start is a plan. Just like every other business, you need to have a business plan. Do a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats assessment on your chosen area of interest. You also need to look at what you have and what you need to acquire and how much it will cost you. This is where you will know whether your venture is viable as a business.
Now that you have an area of interest, information on it and a plan, the next step is to network. Get to know people both online and offline; they will be your community and your points of reference sometimes. Join farmers groups on social media platforms such as Facebook. Read farming blogs posts from the rest of our site. Then start cultivating a healthy relationship with suppliers and potential customers.
- Let’s look at money
Farming requires quite a bit of money to run. Like any other business, the money part is pretty straightforward; you need to have some to start. It will require that you invest quite a bit at the beginning, before you can get anything from your first harvest. It is advisable that you stay away from loans at the beginning. It is also advisable to keep proper records of all your income and expenses and treat your farming venture as a business. Here’s a good article on the importance of bookkeeping for your farm.
You should also not invest everything you have saved, just in case things do not go as planned.
- Patience and commitment
The final ingredient in the mix to be a farmer is a healthy helping of both patience and commitment. You need to realize that in farming, nothing comes overnight. Most crops will need about 100 days to mature into harvesting. This requires patience and commitment, considering all this time you have to pay for planting, pesticides, labour, fertilizer and other expenses. Be ready.