As much as we encourage young people into farming, come armed with knowledge, it is not MMM, Ultimate cycler, a get rich quick scheme.
Farming is a good venture and can multiply your investments a thousand fold. However, it can also go bad, real quick.
Social media is full of stories of success in farming. Others are not farmers but will pose on farms to chase clout. Lol Farming is not rosy.
The risks in farming include:
Diseases, market flooding, high costs against low yields and ever changing climate.
Although we have successful stories, few negatives are posted. The pursuit for feeling successful and showing off on social media overshadows the daily failures.
Whenever losses strike, it is the very point at which we differentiate real farmers and “wannabe” farmers.
A real farmer will endure the risks, learn from them, pick up pieces and replan while staying focused on the goal. “Wannabe” farmer will abandon farming altogether.
Many farmers are quiet on the problems they face in farming. Success stories are good. But let us also show the newcomers what awaits them.
All crops and livestocks have their challenges. However, I wont bore you with details per crop and livestock. Let me shed light on a few selected ones. If I don’t mention what you want to farm, don’t think you are safe. Shock still awaits you. So come prepared.
This is an interesting option. I know of someone who reared 2000 broilers, lost up to 1500 heads in a butch of 2000. Reared 500 layers but wasn’t keen. At 7 months, only 126 were laying!! Remember, feeds for layers are the most expensive. A mere change in feeding program can cost you. Farmers buy day old chicks and by day 5, they have zero. All Dead!
One sick chicken in a flock can wipe out everything. You will get stuck with mature dying chickens with no buyer.
Here, timing is good if you need to fetch good profits. Seed companies selling fake seeds are the first frustration. You will plant seeds that wont germinate. If they do, they underperform. The bags mentioned as yield in those packages are a myth. They don’t yield. A friend planted maize in 2019 with good timing. He could count the maize that germinated! He slashed everything and planted pumpkins!
If you get credible seeds, fake fertilizers await you. He bought 8 bags of NPK. After applying, one month later over 50% was still solid! Sand!!
Some unscrupulous sellers mix fertilizers with sand and repackage.
Some fertilizers starts dissolving into liquid few hours after you open. You store the opened sack only to find everything liquid and gone! You cant use that. It’s your bill.
If you get good seeds and fertilizers, striga weed strikes!! Striga weed is a menace in maize farming. It can reduce your yield up to 80% if it attacks the whole farm.
Don’t be fooled by the red pictures of bumper harvests. Tomatoes can give you stroke.
This is a crop that is highly prone to various attacks. Viral, fungal and bacterial diseases that once they enter, no exiting. You will spend weeks spraying chemicals. Losses will be on your list. Any slight mistake ruins your harvest. Diseases attack at fruiting. This is also one crop that floods the market and price per kg can reduce by 80% in a flash. You will be stuck with crates upon crates of your bumper harvest and no interested buyer.
This is one area that is full of losses. Cattle feeding is one part that you will always complain about. Cows are gluttons. Some though high milk producers, they feed 24/7. Feeding machines. Labour intensive. You may Always get into issues with employees
Milk prices only favour milk processing companies. Farmers are just a conveyor belt in the grant scheme. You will also pour milk for lack of market due to excess supply. Interesting? Wait.
The milk cows are also very vulnerable to diseases. You need a standby vet on call. That thing can show signs of sickness in the evening and by morning its dead!
Then comes delivery complications. Most overfeed and the calf overgrows in the womb. Normal delivery becomes hard.
Floods can wreck havoc in your farm. You will get to the field and find all your precious plants that were glowing few hours ago swept away. Some find this and die of stroke or commit suicide. Water logging is also a serious issue. Increases soil acidity, reduce fertility.
Crops get stunted. Drainage is inevitable in farming. Ensure your farm has enough drainage if you are located in areas receiving heavy rains.
Live stock structures in such heavy rain areas need to be well built. Storms can kill your livestock. Check wind direction when constructing.
If you are keen on livestock, be keen on worms. Worms kill and cause stunted growth. Pigs, goats, chicken and cattle are the most vulnerable to worms. Most worms have a secondary parasite that is more lethal than the worm itself.
Market and Flooding
Market for farm produce is a challenge to many farmers. This can send you parking on your first trial. Many farmers complain of absence of markets after harvesting. Understand your market. If you are not sure of the market don’t farm. Market your produce. Farming is an investment like any formal business. Start marketing your produce even before you see it. Get contacts. Be careful with brokers. They are barriers to accessing markets but are also the key to getting your trusted customers. Don’t harvest if you don’t want brokers.
While using any chemicals be careful. A neighbour didn’t read and follow instructions while spraying army worms on maize. He lost 4 acres. Everything burnt down. If you are spraying foliar, be keen. Too much of it burns the leaves. Some crops like melons require specific sprays.
Dry your produce well and use recommended preservatives if storing for long. Weevils are a menace in cereals. You can lose them 100%.
A real farmer must develop thick skin.
Many examples are out there of farmers encountering 100% losses or more.
Farming is not for the fainthearted get rich quick “wannabes”.
Credits: Amba Delight Farm