Starting a successful farming business ‘from subsistence to commercial farming’

By Innocent Mhangarai :

Traditionally in the African context households have been practicing farming as a way of ensuring that the family is well fed, well-nourished and happy always. From generation to generation the family has been a strong pillar behind a successful farming season that is characterized by greater yields. If the family didn’t work there was no food on the table, having many children was regarded to as a source of cheap labor. After everything was harvested it was made sure that the family had enough and the little surplus was sold or exchanged.

It is often said success does not just happen; the power is in one’s hands for things to happen as hard work should be the culture if one really desire to succeed. If one of your desires is to run a successful farming business and leave behind a lasting legacy for your family then you must be deliberate about it. It all begins with a desire then actions complete everything and this is where most individuals lose it as most of their dreams are kept inside for a very long time until they are totally forgotten and out of the picture. Think it then ink it, if it’s in your head it’s a dream, if it is put on paper it becomes a plan. If we are to look at family businesses that grew to becoming an empire we realize that there are certain common attributes they adhered to in building their agribusinesses to that level.

Choose the right agribusiness

Making the right choice is the most important thing that any individual has to do before embarking on a journey. There are some businesses that from mere projections, you are able to determine if the business is capable of surviving beyond a decade or it can only survive for less than a year. For example the introduction of the android system made companies like Nokia to go into extinction, and also the introduction of computers made companies that were producing typewriters to go into extinction. It is therefore important to invest in a family business that will survive the tests of time, in this manner with agriculture you never go wrong because we need farmers every day for us to have meals. It is important for farmers to increase production levels and practice farming as a business as this is a viable business not only for the local market but international market.

Have a clear vision.  

It is important to have a vision as this gives a direction to everyone on where you coming from and where you are going. Without a clear vision, one will accept anything that comes their way that is to say if and individual fails to plan properly, they will be planning not to achieve their goals. Therefore crafting a clear cut vision statement for the farm business and ensuring everyone understands the dream is a very important practice that should be adopted by those who want to venture into successful farming business. The vision should not only be written on a strategic place but it should be on the back of everyone’s mind as they should know why they are part of the team and what  is expected from them. For one to succeed in farming as a business it all begins with a vision.

Enforce discipline and team spirit

Lack of discipline has been one of the major challenges on the establishment of a successful family business. If discipline is not enforced at an early stage it becomes a challenge to deal with some occurrences in the long run. It is important in a family farming business for team members to know what is expected of them and what they are not supposed to do for example if the business is on broiler or egg production. The success of the business is based on output therefore no one is expected to slaughter the birds or consumes the eggs as they wish. It is the role of the leader or overseer of the family business to ensure that there are rules to regulate the behavior of the subordinates taking for example if one fails to observe the rules it leads to a disciplinary action or suspension. Farming as a business needs discipline and team spirit as these will open doors for efficiency and effectiveness.

Insist on record keeping and accountability

Record keeping is one of the fundamental aspects for the success of any farming business. Many at times farmers complain that they are incurring losses yet they do not take into consideration that having a record of the inputs used is important before even talking about yield. This is important in both crop and livestock production farmers are encouraged to record their herd inflows from birth, purchases as well as gifts. The same thing should be done on outflows like death, slaughter, sales, and theft and so on. By so doing it shows transparency and anyone with a desire to invest in the business will have no doubt on the farm operations.

Invest in education and empowerment

As you will be working on the business as a family, it is important that each and every member is well trained and empowered. The dynamics of running a viable business keeps on evolving with time and it takes those who invest in empowering themselves to survive storms that come from time to time. If the farming business is to succeed it should be noted that education sharpens the mind and it is the key to success therefore staff development sessions should be done as well as attending refresher courses and trainings that are done from time to time. If you desire to run a successful farming business the secret lies in spending money investing in the education of your family as well as team members.

In conclusion, a successful farming business is one that is positioned in such a way that the button stick of leadership is passed from one generation to another. For example the father giving the son the mandate to ensure that the farming business lives in the future. The farming business should adopt an effective succession plan so that all this becomes a possibility. Investing in agriculture does not only create jobs and increase yields, it also annihilates poverty and extreme hunger A percentage increase in agricultural activities is followed by improved livelihoods. To be precise and more accurate, increased outputs from agricultural activities ensue reduced prices as there will be surplus in the market allowing households to have more spending power.