Good management is the cornerstone for a successful farm business. All the successes and failures of a farm can directly be traced back to management. For example, poor management on a dairy farm is likely to result into poor hygiene standards, which in turn will result into an outbreak of diseases.
On the other hand, good management will lead to good feeding and disease management, leading to increased milk yields. If you have been wondering why your farm is not performing as well as that of your neighbour, who is engaged in the same enterprise, the problem could be management.
Besides helping to minimise your risks, a sound management system will boost your farm’s performance. You do not have to be a ruthless dictator in order to be a good farm manager.
Being a manager, whether of a farm or any other business, is simply about getting work done efficiently and effectively. To achieve this, you need to know how to handle your workers, as they are the people who determine, to a large extent, whether the farm is profitable or not.
Unfortunately, most farm managers are poor at handling workers, and this is one of the factors behind the poor performance of many farms in the country. It is worse when both the farm manager and the workers do not have a clue about how a farm should be run.
Many farms are started and managed as family businesses with the family head doubling as the farm owner and manager. Although they want their farms to be successful, the majority lack the managerial skills to set their farm on the road to success.
To compound the problem, most farm workers are also unskilled, they are into farming because they have nothing else to do, or are waiting for something better to turn up.
Many farmers employ family members as farm workers who end up transferring family conflict and personal issues into the daily management operations of the farm.
Most farms also lack clear recruitment policies. In fact, workers on most farms in Uganda do not have clear job descriptions. They are just assigned a different job everyday. As result they end up either under worked or over worked.
Mismanagement of workers and other farm resources is partly to blame for the continued poor performance of the agriculture sector, which employs over 70% of the country’s population and is the mainstay of its economy. It is never too late to become a better farm manager.
Below are some tips on how you can handle your workers so that they become more efficient and effective at the jobs.
- Develop a standard system of work on your farm, and train your workers to master that system to eliminate interruptions. Consult experts in your area of farming, to help you streamline the system.
- Put in place monetary and other forms of incentives to stimulate increased output. l Have a clear description of the tasks, roles and responsibilities of each farm worker.
- Look at your farm as a business organisation and put in place, if possible in writing, standard policies and procedures of operation.
- Try to balance the key management functions of planning, organising, commanding, and coordinating and controlling.
- Pay close attention to the welfare of your farm workers. l Inform the workers about your farming goals and make sure they have them in focus all the time.
- Try to increase productivity on your farm by motivating your farm workers to perform their duties to the expected standards through fulfilling their human needs of food, shelter, security, esteem, selfachievement, and sense of belonging.
To be a better manager
- Carry out an informal research or survey of the market and find out what products are on great demand and in what quantities. Then adjust your farm operations to produce these products that are in great demand on the market. l Your farm is an organisation that interacts with the outside world, which includes social, political, and economic forces in the country that affect your farm business. Truly, the farm is a social organisation and it is thus affected by its outside environment.
- Failure in one aspect of the farm affects other parts as well. In order for you to be a successful farmer, meet the political, social, and economic needs affecting your farm. As a manger, you need to sustain a competitive advantage or strategy for value that your competitors cannot match. Although bringing new agricultural products on the market and use of new and advanced technologies may give you a short lived competitive advantage, research has showed that your competitors will eventually catch up with you.
- The sources of competition making a difference in the long run are your farm workers and to a lesser extent the system of management at your farm.
- However, it is important for you to know that for your management system of operation on the farm to be effective, you need to combine different management the principles. None of them can work in isolation from the others. In a nutshell, the critical problems facing management of labour on farms can be solved by using management systems which have a standard method of operation, trained workers in that method, clear tasks, roles and responsibilities for all farm workers, standard procedures and policies of operations, balance between management functions and workers welfare or needs, demand driven production of agricultural goods, a holistic approach to management, and a balance between the farm operations with the social, political and economic forces that affect the farm business. a balance between the farm operations with the social, political and economic forces that affect the farm business.