FARMING INDUSTRY GURU SPEAKS…MR. AKINTUNDE GIWA
FAD: What are the basic mistakes that farmers used to make over the years and how can farmers overcome these mistakes and succeed better and faster?
GIWA: The mistakes I can vividly remember farmers make are as follows.
Inability to have proper accounting records. Nothing reveals if a business is making it or not like having a proper records. Records will help you as a farmer to know whether you are making profits or not. Make your records a daily habit. I have devised a proper record book where I check every day’s progress on my farm. I can easily get to know if there is a drop in production.
Employ the services of a Vet or an Animal Scientist. When you get to the stage of rearing birds up to 15, 000 to 20, 000 capacity birds, you should be seen as a commercial farmer, and you no doubt need the services of a Veterinarian or an Animal Scientist. You need a vet because when any problem arises with the birds on the farm, the vet would have to test and take the result to the laboratory. The laboratory will come up with possible solutions, which will in turn save a farmer from frequent losses. Once birds have problems, they show the effects in a geometric way. You will see them falling down one at a time in a geometric way. If there is a waste of time in discovering what the problem is, you may lose all the birds in a day.
I often liken the situations of a bird to a baby. If a baby is sick, he needs no other help than the help of a paediatrician who majors in baby wellness. The moment this baby is been treated by this professional, solution becomes visible. The Vet doctor majors in treating Birds on Farms. Their consent must be asked to secure the lives of the birds. They are like insurance. They will save you a lot of cost when the birds fall sick. Let me make this clear, even if you rear 2, 000 to 5, 000 birds you would always need the services of a Vet. Farmers also need to pay them for their services when rendered. Learn to keep their money aside.
As a farmer, you need to think more of employing professionals. No matter the area of farming, you need professional hands to make it a success.
Lack of good security. You must be security conscious as a farmer. Your eyes must be open to observations and happenings around your farm. When I was going into farming, one of my friends gave me a honest advice that stealing thrives in farming and that I should get ready to secure my farm appropriately.
If you must secure your farm as a farmer, I advise that you have internal security and external security. For example, we have been able to secure this farm by making sure the security inside is well positioned. We also go as far as securing this farm outside the compound. The security outside goes round the fences consistently. We also maintain this security consciousness even right to the nighttime. Any suspicious movement internally and externally concerning this farm will be questioned. This is how to do a thorough security set up in a commercial farm. I know of a big farmer around us here whom we all believe was making it in farming. We one day discovered that an entrance was created at the back of his farm where thieves pass through to cart away his farm products.
Let me tell you my experience 7 to 8 years ago. We once had a security officer who watches over our pen during the day. One of our pen houses which comprise 7, 000 capacity poultry birds was robbed over night. The thieves broke in through an outlet around the pen, which was not properly secured and carted away 100 crates of eggs. Though we had dogs, which could have helped, but the dogs didn’t bark throughout the operation. We thought outside the box and concluded that one of the thieves must have been an insider, someone friendly and close to the dogs on the farm. Then we discovered it was the security agent who watches over the farm during the day.
While you are securing your farm, make sure there is no close relationship between your internal and external security agents. A Yoruba adage goes like this, “Bori Se To Ni Ori Sen Fo Eniyan.” (Big head, big headache!) Just do something if not really big at your level to secure your farm appropriately. Security is key.
Absentee farm owner. Entrepreneurship requires that whomever sets up a business must be available to run the business full time.
The ownership of the farm in our climate must be there on ground. You just need to be on ground because it is your business as the head. No employee will think faster like you as the owner. Please keep it in mind that you cannot practice farming as a profession being an absentee farmer. If you are a banker and you want to go into farming, I advice that you finish all about your banking profession first and then face farming full time. Never in anyway think you can be far away while practicing farming. Such a style will not work in this part of the world.
Start gradually . If you must start farming as an occupation, I advise that you start small depending on your capability. Involve a Veterinarian or Animal Scientist to help you. You must also prepare to pay them, and like I said, they are like insurance. They will help ensure that your birds are in good condition. Employ professional hands. Employ people who know about the job to work along with you.
While starting up, the area of finance is a very big issue. Even as an ex-banker I know how many farming projects I have withdrawn from when they await approval of funds. The farmers themselves are not helping matters. Hardly will you see any farm pay back at the appropriate time after they had borrowed from the bank. Though the banks I worked with those days are small banks. They as well would want to protect themselves from closing down. That is the reason why they never seem to be interested in borrowing out money to execute projects that will not bring in returns at the appropriate time. There are general issues with our banks over finance to start and run a business.
Insurance. Insuring your farm is a very wise decision. I am a beneficiary when it comes to insurance. Insuring our farm here helped to overcome major challenges. Insuring your farm may not give you all you have lost when challenges come, but the half you will receive will eventually help to start over again. Farmers need to insure their farms.
Contributed by MR AKINTUNDE GIWA..CEO, FARM FRESH FOODS LTD
INTERVIEWED BY DR. JOSEPH DEJI FOLUTILE, PUBLISHER, FARMING ADVICE DIGEST
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