The end goal of every farmer, regardless of the product he or she is planting or dealing in is to make a good harvest. More importantly, a good harvest is not just about getting plenty of farm products from your farm, it is also about being able to make good money selling your products.
Increasing farm sales is a challenge that every farmer, whether in crop production, or in Animal husbandry has to confront from time to time, especially in a country like Nigeria where lack of good road networks, poor power supply, lack of technology for food preservation, and other issues ensure that farm produce must be sold within a short period or it will become non-viable.
It is therefore important that farmers learn time tested best practices that can help them to sell more year after year. So here are four tricks that can help you put your farm products in high demand.
1. Start Marketing before planting
One thing every business does is market research. In market research, the business tries to find out who wants the product, when they want the product, and what products they want. As a farmer who wants to boost farm sales, marketing your farm products, even before you plant is your go-to method of market research.
Marketing before planting makes your customers aware of what you want to plant so that by the time the harvest is ready, they are already aware of your products. Because as mentioned above, in a place like Nigeria, crops, especially food crops have a low shelf period, and spoilage is a real possibility, it will ensure that your products move straight from your farm to the customer’s shelf.
Marketing your farm products before planting also has an unexpected benefit. It will also help you to know which products to plant and how much quantity to plant. That way you don’t plant a crop or raise animals that are not in demand and you get more value for money out of your farm produce.
2. Build Networks
A lot of farmers, perhaps because they don’t want competition, or they are afraid other farmers will copy their methods, often make the mistake of isolating themselves from farming networks and going it alone. This decision, more often than not, comes back to haunt them. They find that they are unable to either get the kind of yield they desire in their farms or even when they get the desired yield are unable to find buyers for their products.
No matter how big or small you are as a farmer, if you desire to sell your products, then you must be part of one or more farming networks.
Farming networks are useful in many ways for boosting farm sales: Firstly, they are good for product marketing. Since produce buyers and sellers frequently interact on these platforms, it is the best way to get buyers for your products as well as know what possibilities exist in the markets for certain products.
Secondly, you can learn the current best agricultural practices and techniques from other farmers, as well as government policies and laws concerning certain Agricultural products.
Thirdly it helps you to contribute to conversations on Agriculture for sustainable development. There are many online Agricultural hubs and farmer-centric forums on the internet that you can join and start marketing your products.
3. Use The Internet
While it is true that Nigeria is currently being plagued by poor power supply, which is making internet penetration low, there is still no argument to counter the fact that farmers who have access to the internet have the biggest opportunities to sell their products to boost their farm sales. One could have a whole book to talk about the advantages of the internet for Agriculture in Nigeria, and still never exhaust the many advantages.
The most important thing to note is, the internet is the biggest market of all for agricultural product sales.
A lot of the time, the people who buy farm products are often not even in the immediate locale of the people who buy them. To take an example, let us look at Onions. Onions are usually in very high demand for party food caterers in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, but they cannot grow in Southern Nigeria due to the climate. They have to be brought in from northern Nigeria.
An internet-savvy northern Nigerian farmer can use the internet to find a customer in Southern Nigeria, who wants to buy onions. Through the internet, many farmers have even sold products from Nigeria to companies in the US for example, companies that would not have even heard of them if not for the internet.
As a farmer who wants to boost your farm sales, you must take the internet seriously. If you are not internet savvy, employ someone to teach you or manage your internet pages. The internet is the next stage in the evolution of the Agricultural value chain.
4. Provide Quality Customer Service
As a farmer, you must realize that you are not just a person who plants crops or rear animals, you are also a person who does business.
Thus if you want to build a sustainable model for boosting your farm sales, you must learn the core practices of customer attraction and customer retention.
Agricultural product buyers are people with emotions, they always go wherever they feel appreciated. Thus you must ensure that they are happy with you and your products all the time.
Remember that you are the farmer, so you probably know more about your product than the buyer does, so you might have to patiently explain the products or processes to the buyer.
Offer then discounts on products and loyalty bonuses in order to make them stay with you.
More importantly, be reliable. Farm products business especially if it is food is serious business and thus nothing drives customers away faster than a farmer who never delivers on time or who consistently delivers bad products.
In Agriculture, as in any other business, the customer is king. How well you are able to boost your farm sales depend on how royally you treat them.