Alot of people in Kenya approach farming as if it is a hobby. You might enjoy putting around the little garden outside of your kitchen, but that hardley counts as farming. If you are considering farming in any way beyond that, here are some things you should seriously consider.
• Why Farming? What do you see yourself getting out of it? A farm is both an extension of the vision and values of the individual(s) who start(s) it, and it has to be carefully planned to make sure that it fits within that vision as well as within the particular confines of the place where it is established. Farming can be rewarding if done in a smart way.
• Where is your farm located: What kind of soils do you have, how much water, when does it rain? How are the roads? Is your farm accessible? What grows well in your region? How will you store your produce? Carefully consider the location of your farm, access to market, staff, and other resources. Logistics are a very important part of any farming venture.
• How will the farm work?: Farming is a business that requires you have a well designed business plan that is true to your resources, financial needs, well researched and verified marketing plan and a great understanding of your farms capacity.
• Education and Experience: Preparation, knowledge, and training are essential. You should hire well educated and experienced staff at your farm in addition to making sure you take the time to learn yourself so that you oversee your staff and are able to verify any information or advice from experts or consultants.
As in life, farming is a dynamic and ever-changing undertaking and you should be as adaptive as possible. It is very important to know how, when, what, where to expend time, energy, and resources.
• Who will buy your produce?: Farming involves a lot of costly inputs and labor and in order to maximize your returns you must plan from the beginning who will buy your produce and for how much and set up a back up plan accordingly. Plan carefully to manage risk through diversification, financial management, and the ability to withstand a couple of bad years.
• Start small then Scale: For most new farmers, it is smart to start small to allow time for details to be worked out, for additional learning to occur, and to mitigate the size and scope of problems that will inevitably arise. It is also as important to farm to scale i.e. farming quantities that allow you to get the most out of your land, labour, inputs so that you can get the best possible price for your produce and maximizing for the most possible profit.
What are your thoughts on the above tips? What have we left out? What should we add?