Today I will do a different type of writing. It will not be a planting guide, business proposal, do this not that type of post but a heartfelt one on one talk to whoever cares to listen. Before we start, I would like to explain what inspired this article and to do that I will tell you a story.
A few years back, I worked for an internet marketing firm which ran one of the pioneer agricultural websites at that time. I naturally wanted to be involved in it given my undying love for farming. There was literally no way I wasn’t going to be part of it and the director knew this so it wasn’t long before I was running the site.
It is then that I started receiving phone calls from people majority of who worked in offices (and I assume they hated their jobs) and wanted to quit and venture into farming. This was mostly curtesy of the news articles and TV programs that did farmers making 600,000 a month from a quarter an acre type of news and made a killing selling newspapers. Even those street side mediocre papers that are barely readable with tissue paper like texture started running such stories. All of a sudden, farming looked so attractive, everybody started thinking of that ka-quarter that just stays idle, of that old man in shagz who won’t mind leasing out an acre or two to the neighbor’s son who went to the city, of how they could utilize the small space behind the house and reap some of this farming money. The newspapers got everyone’s attention again when they started running stories of the greenhouse millions, the drip lines and how the water problem that had locked out hundreds from farming could be overcome one drip at a time and they sold some more newspapers.
Then came the big one, the quails. This without a doubt was the mother of all, the one that literally made people go mad. The thought of selling one egg for KSH100 bundled the genuine farmers, admirers and get rich quickers into one big human avalanche destined for disaster. The newspapers again came to the party with headlines such as Goldmine Quails, the life changing birds, the poverty beaters and helped roll that now oversized ticking bomb downhill, gave it a nudge strong enough, stepped aside and watched as it wiped everything in its path as they sold some more newspapers. They dint go too far though, they were the first at the scene of disaster to interview the poor farmers. The ones that had stopped keeping chicken to embrace new trends, the landlords that had kicked out tenants from their servants quarters to make room for the life changers and the ones who took out loans to start trading the tiny eggs with medicinal value. They had made it to the newspapers, the level they had envisioned their quail empires taking them, just like those who had featured when ‘Goldmine quails and poverty beaters’ was the headline only that this time, the headlines read ‘what went wrong and what next’.
My point is, farming is not all black and white and shiny as the newspaper’s put it. Seeds are not just scattered on the field and harvested profitably. Talk to any farmer and he will have stories to tell of how challenging, dynamic yet rewarding farming is. It takes a lot of patience, perseverance and planning. You also have to do a lot of reading and training or alternatively hire a consultant.
I advocate for agribusiness and farming and encourage everyone with a passion to venture into it. But do not be fooled, just like any other profession, the principals necessary for success still apply.