Agriculture is the bedrock of every development. It is an immense source of wealth. But the opportunities presented by Agriculture is not being fully exploited in Africa. This is due to a number of challenges countries in Africa’s face – particularly the poor farmers.
This article, with discussing briefly the cause of these challenges to making wealth through farming, how to overcome the challenges and set yourself on the path to being a successful farmer.
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Africa has some of the most fertile lands and is home to a wide range of animal species. This is in addition to natural resources and a huge labour force. Yet it remains controversially the poorest continent in the world. Centuries and decades of mismanagement by both domestic and foreign rulers is the main reason for our current predicament. European colonizers hadn’t and still haven’t the interest of the African people at heart. All they cared about was to satisfy their insatiable greed for short or long-term economic goals regardless of the consequences of such exploitation on the Africans.
But colonizers are not the only ones to blame. Incompetent and very corrupt leaders play an even more devastating role in further undermining long-term development. Nigeria is a good example of a country mismanaged for decades by corrupt leaders in both military and civilian regimes.
Many African countries were doing fine agriculturally despite not having the right leaders. The people went to farms and produced enough to feed the entire population. Here again, Nigeria is a good example. Prior to the discovery and exploitation of vast oil deposits in the country, the major occupation for Nigerians was farming. The country exported large quantities of various cash crops to other countries and the economy grew steadily.
As soon as oil appeared, the government first started to lose interest in agriculture, and soon enough, the people followed. Oil brought instant massive wealth without the government doing much on the part of labour. People gradually relaxed efforts towards agriculture until only very few large-scale farmers remained. The result was and still remains an increase in food prices, food shortages, and even near disappearance of some crops. It is a major problem. But then it presents a big opportunity for fortune hunters.
If you want to make money in agriculture here in Nigeria, all you need is to produce a type of crop that people are interested to buy. It can be grains, vegetables, or even animal and fish farming.
There are three major problems that discourage Nigerians from participation in Agriculture: lack of interest and love for white-collar jobs, and lack of capital.
A lot of people even when given the capital today will prefer to open some retail shop and be sitting in one place than open a farm far from home. We have come to consider farming as a poor man’s occupation and a very difficult task – one reserved for the uneducated. Most Nigerian youths look upon farming as a lowly career option. Consequently, our vast fertile lands lay in waste while we pay exorbitant prices for food.
The second challenge of farming in Nigeria is the knowledge to do it effectively. Because we grow up around village farmers or those who reside in the towns and cities, we tend to think there is nothing much to learn about farming. The process is only tiling or ridging where necessary, planting, weeding and harvesting. And it should be done in the rainy season. That is what most of us think. As such, those who engage in farming tend to overlook the need for advanced knowledge on their occupation – except maybe those in the animal field. Because we pay little attention to getting acquainted with the necessary skills to maximize the yields, our effort in many cases results in low yield that serves to discourage us.
The third problem for Nigerian youths who want to hammer through farming is the lack of investment capital. The poor cannot farm properly. Farming required a huge investment in both time and resources. Everything you need, from farmland to working materials and pesticides cost a lot of money.
The first two challenges can easily be overcome. Dismiss the pride and arrogance that stand in the way of Agriculture and pretty much everything. Pride is an enemy. It will always lead to a bad end. You need to correct your perception of farming as a lowly occupation. It is important to realize that Farming is the most honourable occupation of all. It saves lives more than any medicine or doctor can ever do. Hence by engaging in farming, you will be saving lives while making money in agriculture.
Be willing to learn more about your occupation. The internet is the largest ocean of free knowledge. You will learn a lot about growing any type of plant by simply browsing several sources on your smartphone or laptop. This knowledge will help you to do the right thing and maximize yield. You get to learn everything from capital acquisition to best soils for particular crops, the market value of a crop, how to market and reach consumers easier, and how to manage your agricultural investments. Seeds for all types of crops can be purchased on the internet from many parts of the world, and ship right to your location. Equipment you can use to make the farm tasks easier can also be bought from online stores around the world. Even chemicals and fertilizers are also available. In fact, you can buy anything for your farm from ebay.com
This is the one biggest challenge cited by nearly all Nigerian farmers and for good reason. You need money to make money in Agriculture. The problem is how to get the start-up capital to establish a large farm that will bring high returns.
Some governments in Africa, or rather, all governments in Africa are very aware of this problem. For example, the Nigerian government is aware that most Nigerians are poor. The farmers are usually peasant farmers who can’t even produce enough to feed their immediate families let alone feed the society. The root cause of the inability of farmers to produce enough to feed the country is a lack of capital and knowledge on agricultural activities.
Some governments have found a way to help their local population by providing low-interest loans. Nigeria is a good example. The Bank of Industry (BOI) offer low-interest loans to Nigerian farmers and those who have great business ideas particularly food-related businesses. While this is a good strategy, its implementation is poor, because many farmers are unable to access the loan largely due to the government’s inability to differentiate those who are serious from those who are not.
Waiting for a loan may take too long to materialize – or may not at all. You need to start something to help you build capital for your agricultural business. Start from something small – like a vegetable farm. Vegetables are a lot easier to produce and they sell very well. Also, vegetables don’t require large farmland. A particularly profitable vegetable in Nigeria is the common ugu that is very popular among the Igbos but has nationwide patronage. A very small bundle of our costs about N50, and two of the bundles won’t be enough for one person. All you need is to get fertile land or make it fertile by adding manure to it. You can get manure for free from fruit markets.
The greatest challenge you will face with growing the vegetable is irrigation. But starting your farm in the rainy season gives you some advantage. You could sell enough to buy irrigation equipment in the dry season.
Starting small should help you towards achieving the larger goal of becoming a successful commercial farmer. It will also give you some experience with farming, marketing, and managing your agri-business. It also places you in a better position to convince the government or other organizations for a loan.
Once you have substantial capital, you may then explore other business ideas in the agricultural sector or simply expand your farm.
What if I told you can even make money from agriculture without going to the farm. YES YOU CAN! – This is How you can Make Money From Agriculture Without Going To The Farm
Finally, there are so many other business ideas in agriculture to explore across Africa, we also compiled 15 Things You Did Not Know About Opportunities in Agriculture. The most important steps are to be willing to do what it takes to succeed. You may work at it for a couple of years without seeing much success. But if you persist while learning from your mistakes and adapting your plans according to changing situations, you are very likely to succeed. Make further research on the type of agriculture you could engage in. There are hundreds of ideas not listed here. Conduct a thorough research on the market potential for that business idea and learn how to implement your steps to achieve optimal results.
This post was last modified on September 15, 2021 1:56 pm