This is a follow-up to the last newsletter on the above subject. Remember, I did mention 3 mistakes that can doom any agribusiness. If you missed the article, you can read it by clicking here.
Remember that mistakes are part of learning. But they must be corrected before positive impacts can be made.
Now, let’s talk about 2 more serious mistakes (numbers 4 and 5) and how to tackle them. Feel free to tell us what you think about them.
4. Not Paying Attention to Climate Change
Gone are the days when one could predict correctly the rainfall pattern or general climatic condition around him. Times have changed. Rain seizes unexpectedly, and sun takes over the rainy season.
Temperature variation and many other abnormalities we now see should incite us to raise serious alarm. Why? Food security is under threat.
This is even serious with some crops which planting season involves serious timing, e.g watermelon.
It has been observed that some who planted at the right season had challenges with the weather, thus affecting their yield and eventual turnover.
While this is a global issue, what more can we do as individual farmers to make the situation better? Here below are my suggestions:
a. Install Irrigation Equipment
In the midst of all these challenges, one of the best solutions is irrigation, or supplementary watering.
In that case, all plants get water all year round.
However, this costs some money. You will need a reliable water source (borehole, flowing stream, etc), reservoir or tank, and the irrigation accessories.
I will talk more about the how to choose the most suitable type for your agribusiness.
Is getting irrigation system installed worth or the stress and cost? I will give you an unending yes as my answer. Do you know why?
Every year in Nigeria and in most parts of sub Saharan Africa, rain fall lasts for only about 4-6 months.
This is followed by the dry season when solar radiation scorches your plant and soil water depletes due to increased rate of evapotranspiration.
That is not another big grammar. It simply combines evaporation(water loss from soil) and transpiration (water loss from plants)
At this time, many seasonal farmers drop their farm implements at home and focus on their other trades to continue providing for their families.
But this is the time when smart farmers make their money, Why? Because, since few farmers are growing, only those using effective irrigation will have their crops available during this periods and they will sure reap immense benefits.
Simple economics says that when supply is low, price goes up. And that accounts for the hike in the cost of fresh vegetables during the dry season. In fact, this can be over 500% higher in some cases.
Are you seeing the potential already?
Every single kobo spent on installing a working irrigation will yield in multiples, and once installed, the system can last for many years, depending on the type and quality chosen.
At present, I will recommend the use of Drip Irrigation system as they save water and are easy to maintain.
To install on one acre can be as high as 200k, but imagine being able to supply your crops all through the year, even during the hottest of the dry seasons.
I do not sell irrigation equipment. However, I am arranging with a company that deals in that. I believe that the cost can be reduced when more persons buy from them. I suggest you send me an email if you are interested. The title of the mail should be: “Interested in Irrigation Equipment”
b. Do Replacement Planting
Another suggestion is to prepare for some possible loss by buying extra seed. And when the climate suddenly changes and your crops are affected, plant again. You may lose some money but the possibility of a good harvest is high.
Now, let’s talk about another mistake.
What is the essence of production without marketing? The problem with marketing farm products is not the question of availability of the market. No. It is the question of our abilities and readiness.
One mistake I have sen in many agropreneurs is that they begin thinking about how and where to market their products too late. Don’t forget that some of these may be perishable in nature. So, time is of essence. What can you do about your marketing?
a. Be smart
Here are simple things you can improve on.
i. Start early to locate potential customers and markets
ii. Give samples to individual sellers to test and they will come looking for you if you have a good product
iii. Promise them discount if they buy in bulk
iv. Give them referral bonus when they introduce another buyer.
b. Advertise your product online
I want you to pay attention to this part very well. Gone are the days when people go from markets to markets when they need something to buy.
Do you know where they head to these days? They go online because they expect that every serious business man or woman should be online, irrespective of what you sell.
This experience may be funny but very real. Let me relate it:
A few weeks ago, I saw an advert on facebook inviting people to call a specific number if he or she needs solution to his home problems. You think he is using prayers or medications? No way. That is a ‘babalawo” or juju priest taking his business online. And you are here watching…
And it was a sponsored advert, meaning he paid facebook to show the advert to millions of people.
So, if you are a serious business man and you are not online, that word ‘serious’ should be investigated. So, your agribusiness should be online beginning now, if you have not done so. Remember, this applies to anything you want to sell. Yes, anything you can imagine.
The reason is, going online exposes your business to millions of potential customers, much more than those you can talk to. Just search how many Nigerians are on facebook, or how many search relevant keywords on google everyday. You will be surprised.
Does that mean you must design a website and become a technical person overnight?
That is not necessary. Simple facebook page, post on your wall, sponsored posts of even 2 dollars.
I will be writing a full article on this and introduce you to a young man who does that perfectly for a chicken change. And if you are willing to learn digital marketing/advertisement, he will be willing to coach you. He is based in Lagos.
I wish you huge success in your agribusiness. Those who quit do not win. Learn the skill and avoid mistakes that can ruin your business.