Owning and running your own farm is a dream that only few are able to achieve. What is it that sets the dream apart from the reality? You need to be able to identify possible challenges that you may face and know how to tackle them when or even before they arise.
If you are hoping to throw yourself into the challenging but rewarding profession of farming, here are some tips that will, hopefully, give you the confidence to go ahead.
Make sure, however, that you have a real passion for this industry. It is a lifestyle business that will require full commitment and the willingness to keep going. Only passion will get you through many of these trials.
We need as many small-scale farmers as possible. So, find out what support is on offer and don’t give up!
Access to information
In South Africa, accessing the right information can be difficult for those who are starting out their agricultural pursuit. Trying to find information on best planting practices or ways to increase the yield of your farm is difficult.
Information is a vital component of running a successful farm. Gaining access to good information will be a task that you will need to keep coming back to throughout your farming career if you are to keep on top of changes in technology and knowledge in the sector.
Making sure you have the best information will also keep you competitive. Small scale farmers have to compete with the larger corporate farms. You will need to gain as much knowledge as possible if you are to compete successfully.
Gaining first-hand experience is a good place to start. Working as a farm manager for an experienced farm owner can give you the knowledge you need without risking your own capital until you are certain about your skills.
If you have the means, attending an agricultural college will equip you with the skills to find the information necessary for running a successful farm. Even if you are not able to attend these institutions on a full-time basis, find out if they will offer any assistance to you or give you access to some of their resources.
Finding information from agricultural organisations is also necessary, though. Identify resources that you can use. Agricultural organisations have resources like the African Farmers Association of South Africa (who also offer bursaries), the National African Farmer’s Union or the Agricultural Business Chamber- to name a few.
Access to finances
It can be difficult to get the money in order to buy a farm. If you are going to be able to pursue this career, you will need to be sure of where you can get capital from in order to buy the right farm for you.
You have the option to approach traditional banks in order to get a loan or you can apply for a loan from an agricultural bank. The Land and Agricultural Development Bank of South Africa is one such bank. The purpose of this institution is to provide previously disadvantaged farmers with loans in order for them to purchase land on which they plan to farm.
There are other similar financial institutions that provide a similar such as the Micro-Agricultural Financial Institutions of South Africa and the AgriBEE Fund.
Your other option is to apply for government grants. This is a good route for those that are embarking on a farming venture for the first time.
The Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP) offers eligible farmers with mentorship and there are also training programmes available for emerging farmers. Gaining access to these supportive networks can assist in making you a viable candidate for the loan that you require.
If you are able to gain the right knowledge and secure the right financing, finding the right farm to buy will be the next step. If you are able to find a farm that is already operating, you will be able to hit the ground running and build on what is already there.
This can be an expensive option, but it is the best option, particularly if you are new to the business. You will also need to consider the location and the type of farming.
If you are building a farm from scratch, you will need to have a clear idea of the steps you will take in order to get it up and running.
No matter what, you will need a very detailed business plan that will outline how you are planning to make your farm profitable.
By Bruce Hakutizwi, USA and International Accounts Manager for BusinessesForSale.com, the world’s largest online marketplace for buying and selling small and medium size businesses. Bruce has over 7 years’ experience working within the US business transfer marketplace connecting buyers and sellers.