Farmers’ Kraal with Charles Tjatindi – Weekend farming can work if done right

Home Agriculture Farmers’ Kraal with Charles Tjatindi – Weekend farming can work if done right
Farmers’ Kraal with Charles Tjatindi – Weekend farming can work if done right

Part-time farmers are often faced with tough decisions to make regarding their farming enterprises. The farming mode or type, location of the farm or village – and most importantly the choices of human resources that would drive operations in your absence are all worries that make for sleepless nights.

Many have given in and abandoned their dreams of ever making it in farming circles as a result of these challenges. Well, I am not the one to tell you it is OK and that everything will be alright. 

No, it is an uphill battle that would most probably get harder the higher or further along its path you go. So, brace yourself for it.

What I can tell you, however, is that it is a battle that could be won. With the right tools, determination and conviction, you could shred those perceived challenges to pieces and remain the last man standing at the end of it all.

Let us break it down: the major concern is the distance one has to travel to the village to inspect work done and evaluate the overall progress of farming activities. 

With the rising costs of fuel and the frequent wear and tear on your vehicle, which may need money to fix, travelling frequently will not work. Be innovative, and use technology to the fullest. Have frequent scheduled Whatsapp meetings with your workers on the farm and be updated on progress.

Have clear deliverables, targets and deadlines set for certain tasks on your farm. 

Often, when we employ someone, we do not give them an agreed-upon job description. We simply say such person is responsible for ‘work around the farm’. 

This is too vague and loose. Set clear tasks and track such progress meticulously. 

Do not compromise if they are not reached. It is a farming business – not a charity organisation. 

If your employees find it hard to deliver, assist them as much as you can through mentoring, but if the situation does not change, it is time to cut your losses and weed out dead plants from your garden. 

There is no point attempting to go faster in the wrong direction; chances are you might never recoup the time, money and efforts lost in ‘trying to make it work’.

If you are a part-time farmer, lower your expectations. I need to say that again – for clarity, lower your expectations, but remain true to your targets. Simply put, do not expect a chicken to lay an egg each day – even if it is possible. 

If you do that, and the chicken does not meet up to your expectation, you would be saying the business is failing, which may not be the case. 

Keeping your expectations low while still making sure your targets are met prevents undue pressure on you and your enterprise. 

Also, benchmark your farming progress against established farmers in your area, but never compare their progress to yours. It might sound like simple semantics tricks to the untrained ear, but there is a vast difference between these two words. 

The danger you face when comparing things is that you do it according to the look, feel and appearance of products on an item-by-item basis. 

This is dangerous for two reasons: you might be comparing apples and pears, where the person you are comparing your products to is light years ahead of you. Or, you might be undervaluing your agribusiness by comparing it to someone who is way behind you in the sector.

 Benchmarking, where you set targets based on where you want to be in a certain time frame, using another farmer as an inspiration and mentor, is more likely to take you far.

We will dwell a bit more on this in the next week’s column.