As a farmer my first time venture paid more in experience than actual money, not so bad for a first timer but not sustainable. Over the last three years though having observed how decisions are made in the farms, I realized that to a large extent poor decision making in itself played a big role in many failed farming ventures.
If you are asking yourself what crucial decisions these are, think of the last time you decided to plant a particular crop and it ended up not doing as good as you thought or it was flooded in the market and fetched lower prices than you expected, or ultimately it failed. These are all symptoms of a core problem faced in most areas of our lives, decision making.
Decision making in other existing businesses to some level has been standardized using frameworks to rationalize most decisions. In the farm most decision workers rely on experience and for the better part non-experts in the field they are handling. It is thus that decision making is highly compromised in farming compared to other ventures.
It is easy to identify poor decision making at the farm, especially when it is being made someone else other than you. It is characterized by our habits mostly which are;
Lack of enough information – it is lack of enough information that has resulted in growing the wrong crop to failure of crops, in this regard it is better to hire professionals or consult one other than make decisions on what you think is right.
Assumptions – because the farm next to you has its tomatoes doing well. It does not mean they will do well at your place, or because the last a particular crop did well, does not mean it will do well again. Have a framework for decision making and never make assumptions
Lack of enough planning – most farmers, young and old have a hard time doing proper planning of farm activities because of a number of factors from finance to market conditions. This is where most of us farmers have it rough, we don’t have the money to prepare the farm for the next planting because the stores are full of unsold produce or you are waiting for payments. In this regard hire a farm manager who understand this as a business or be the business man here.
There are much more problems, I have only mentioned the common ones so that you can identify and take action on them
The above problems may make you feel that farming requires a highly sophisticated person with the best management at their disposal. That is not true, just a plus if you can actually have that. You can begin making better decisions at your farm by taking consistent and determined action in simple things that you do, it is the small things that eventually prove to dig big holes in our pockets.
First of all be engaged in farm activities and not only by giving instructions and doing the fun things. Take a leadership role and get your hands dirty, hold a spade do some manual work that does not require the farm workers to do if they are engaged in other activities. This way you motivate your farm team and humble yourself. Consult with your farm employees before you make decisions that will require them to execute, this way they do not feel like farm hands. It is though proper engagement that you will save yourself a lot of people problem. Don’t be the telephone farmer too.
Keep proper records of your farm activities, financial records, tool maintenance, crop maintenance and performance, soil tests and other relevant records to your enterprise. This will enable you to recognize important patterns in the future that will aid you in making decisions. The biggest setback to not having proper records is that it becomes hard to make sound decisions because you have nothing to compare to and instead gives room to opinions to be used in making the decisions.
Researching on ways to improve your farm enterprise will ensure that your odds of succeeding in farming are higher. There is a lot of research already done by existing government and non-governmental institutions that offer solutions to make farming better. You don’t have to google it all the time, visit your agricultural office and those of research institutes like KEMRI when you have the time and you will be surprised.
Good decisions and ultimately proper execution achieve desired results.