Here are Mira Mehta’s 4 M’s to making farming a business
Farming in Nigeria is not an easy task and can be quite frustrating, especially in the face of insecurity and challenges of changing climate.
Most smallholder farmers in Nigeria still practice farming as a lifestyle and not as a business and this has made them remain perpetually poor, thus making the venture unattractive to youths.
A lifestyle farmer, according to Mira Mehta, founder and CEO of Tomato Jos, is one who cultivates a crop for consumption while a business farmer is one who grows a crop for profit making.
To change this narrative and ensure farmers tap from the potential in the agricultural sector, Mehta in a series of tweets identified four M’s that make farming a business and not a lifestyle.
These four M’s are key requirements to run a profitable farming business, Mehta said. They are Materials, Management, Market, and Measurement.
Materials are very critical for running a profitable farming business. It is also known as inputs – seeds, fertilizers, herbicides, land, tractor, among others. Farmers must make necessary investments in getting the right inputs for each farming cycle. This helps boost productivity and translates to a higher return on investments.
Access to adequate, secured, and timely supply of quality inputs is a major hurdle on the nation’s way to achieving food sufficiency but with adequate investments in inputs, farmers can easily overcome this hurdle.
Also, there must be adequate investment in technology as it assists farmers in carrying out farm activities profitably and conveniently.
“A farmer who wants to treat their farm as a business will need to invest in their business. They can’t just scatter some seed and hope for the best,” Mehta said.
Sticking to good agricultural practices and effective management of inputs is also crucial in running a profitable farming business. Management of inputs must be used in the right proportions.
“You have to manage the inputs going into the farm – make sure you have the right amount of the right materials at the right time. And you have to manage labor! Managing people is hard,” she said.
Before you get involved in a farming business, it is incredibly important you identify your market. In order to be a successful farmer, you need to know the knowledge of the market of your preferred crop. This will significantly increase your chances to become a great agripreneur.
You need to ask yourself some important questions, such as: Who are my potential customers? In what way do they want to be served? Who are my main competitors? Who are the market leaders and what are they doing in a different way than everyone else? Is there a chance for me to survive? Is there a possibility to get some market share in the crop cultivated? These questions will help you understand the business and your purposes better.
“You must understand the market and how to penetrate it even before going to the farm,” said AfricanFarmer Mogaji, chief executive officer, X-Ray Consulting.
A business farmer must ensure they measure and record everything that goes into the farm and what was taken out from the farm. There must be good farm records of all activities.
Farm records are very critical in running a successful farm business because it gives a farmer precision for future analysis of production methods, cropping history and decision making.
The more record a farmer keeps the easier it is to manage, run the affairs of the farm, the ability to obtain loans from financial institutions easily, and insurance cover.
According to industry experts, record keeping provides valuable information concerning what worked and what did not and possibly, the reasons why something did not turn out as planned.
Also, farm records help farmers treat agriculture as a business. A farm record is also one of the documentation needed to obtain loan from any financial institution in the country. It helps a farmer make good managerial decisions for smooth operations of his farm.
Abiodun Olorundenro, manager, Aquashoot, said that farm records provide a history that helps shape farmers’ future decisions on the production of the crop.
A good farm record must contain the location, size of the farm, soil types, form of labour employed and its costs, number, and cost of input supplies, and number and cost of each farm produce sold should be the basis.
Without a clear farm record of farming activities over a period showing the true position of the farm, financial institutions will not be able to ascertain the viability of the business and the farmer would not be able to secure any loan.
Keeping farm records allows farmers to quantify profit made from the total input put into running the farm and output achieved at the end of each production cycle.