The opportunities in agriculture is limitless and profitable, yet filled with a lot of risks. The uncertainties lead those who rushed into it to get frustrated, and abandon whatever venture they invested in. It is important that adequate knowledge be acquired before venturing into any of the opportunities, either production or supply chain management.
The common mistake most beginner farmers make is “I can do it too, because somebody else is doing it”. This is far from the truth, as proper knowledge is required to establish a farm whatever the size. I will be sharing some tips on what to know and do before starting an agribusiness.
1. Identify Your Preferred Agribusiness
First, you should pick what area of agriculture you want to invest in. Agriculture has a lot of opportunities to choose from, fish farming, vegetable farming, post harvesting management, storage and processing, whatever interests you. I would suggest you pick one for a start, it easier to focus and develop before diversifying. Knowing which venture, you want to invest in brings clarity and a sense of purpose.
2. Research & Learn
After identification, knowledge is a must! Get adequate information about the agribusiness you have chosen, read materials and more importantly learn from practising farmers. Reach out to farmers in your chosen agribusiness and ask questions about the process, market and challenges of the business. This gives you an insight into the business and its intricacies, you share in their wisdom and knowledge gained through experience. Know all you can about your chosen agribusiness, for example in vegetable farming, know about the land preparation, cultural practices, pests and diseases, markets, policies and business. Knowledge is power, this is true in any agribusiness.
3. Source of Finance
It is important to know how you are going to finance the business. A lot of young farmers look towards loans from financial institutions and government, while this is good, it can be a burden when all doesn’t work according to plan or collateral issues. I will suggest at the beginning that loans be sought from friends and family, these allow a bit of breathing space without the need of collateral or legal hassle to retrieve the loan. Grants are also a great idea to source for funds.
4. Know Your Market
Customers are an important part of your business. It is pertinent to know who they are, where they are, and how you are going to engage them. To find a market for your products, ask questions like: who will buy my product? Are they male or female? Which age group will they fall into, young, middle aged or old? What is their income level? Where will I get the most orders? and what day/season will I get the most patronage?
5. Start Small and Grow
Start with a small piece of land or that little storage space, then with more experience expand your business operations. As a beginner, it would not be prudent to start on 40 acres of land even if you have the finances. Start with a small piece as an experiment, observe your successes and shortcomings, learn from them before expanding. It would be foolish to put all your eggs in one basket.
6. Network with Other Farmers
Knowledge sharing is important in agriculture, this updates you about the latest trends and opportunities in your chosen agribusiness. Network with other farmers within and outside your community, attend conferences, join a farmers’ organisation. It gives you access to quality information, innovative ideas and helps understand the terrain better. it is also a means of getting customers as it can lead to referrals.
7. Personal Development and Training
New information and innovative solutions are constantly being disseminated due to progressive researches. Make it a habit to be updated with the current trends and information in your sector. Read books, make use of the internet to gather materials, technology and platforms that can improve your business, get the right training through workshops, classes and conferences. It could be a new tech, management system or business development strategy. Be willing to pay for them as they are important to business growth.
Prior knowledge of what agribusiness entails helps to minimise the uncertainties and maximise profit. Following these tips and some more you have researched would assist you to becoming a successful Agropreneur.