By Joshua Kato
The year 2023 is fast coming to an end and farmers are setting sights on 2024. A lot of things have worked for you in 2023, but many others failed.
According to various sources, one of the reasons things may not have worked out is that you never planned properly. In 2024, it is important that you plan your farm practices at the beginning of the year and lay them down clearly.
There are several questions that you can put on the table in order to guide your planning. For crop farmers, for example, there are two seasons that determine production, especially if the farmer depends on the two seasonal rains.
End of February and end of July are key. What crops are you planting? If you are going to acquire new equipment, what is the source of capital? What is the source of the equipment? Is it locally available or imported? How many pieces do you need?
There is need to budget for every aspect of expenditure on the farm in 2024. Have a clear projection of the earnings and expenditures. If you are likely to get funding from ‘other sources’ indicate other sources.
If you are setting up new ventures on the farm, get your staff and close family members to discuss the choice of enterprises to have on the farm this year and why you think they are the best.
Make sure that your plan tackles issues like quality of your product, proximity to the market, freshness to the consumers and timely delivery to the market.
Discuss sources of farm inputs for your farm, for example, if you are going to keep livestock, find out the source of the goats, cattle as well as the different breeds that may suit your objectives.
There were disappointments in 2023 and you even contemplated jumping out of the trade all together. You started imagining that things cannot work out! Make sure that there is no procrastination in 2024, because this usually leads to disorientation and finally loss of interest.
In any bad situation, pick out the positives and stop lamenting. You must create a calendar for the vital farm activities at the beginning of 2024. Make sure that it includes the hard tasks, such as vaccinating animals, spraying crops, planting seasons, harvesting seasons and a storage plan.
Pin the calendar schedule in a prominent part of your farm and try to follow it religiously. If you depend on the normal rainy seasons, try to follow weather predictions by the meteorology department so that you do not miss the schedule of the rains.
However, if you are growing crops using irrigation, plan to harvest during periods of scarcity or what is called ‘off season’ so that you earn more money.
If you depend on irrigation, make sure that the water source is secure and full of water and the delivery system, which includes pipes, are okay. In case you have any activity on any day, plan to do it in the morning when you are still fresh. Doing activities later in the day has a lot of disruptions.
Agri-tourism is now a major money earner for farms these days. However, schedule when to receive visitors; farms these days receive visitors in form of farm tours. However, set up specific days when they should visit so that they do not come in anytime they wish to.
Having a fixed schedule in place helps you plan and organise the visits and trainings effectively. Schedule time for relaxation after you have completed any day’s tasks; this can be after the season harvests.
Remember, work without play will affect your performance in subsequent activities thus relaxing is not only for the farm owners, but also for the workers.
On top of the long term schedule and records, write everything to do in a day. This will ease work. Have a daily work schedule for the workers too, this will ease evaluation of their activities every month and every quota.
Planning ahead is key to time management. If, for example, you need to plant at the beginning of March 2024, start planning the fields now and stock the seeds early. If you intend to stock broilers for the Easter season, book the day-old chicks at least in January. If you are not permanently on the farm, plan to give more time to the farm activities.
If you don’t stay at the farm, go there at least three times a week. If you can afford, set up CCTV cameras to monitor activities.
One important note; the Harvest Money expo is set for February 23 to 25, if you want genuine farm inputs, save the date and attend it.
Like one veteran farmer said: “A farmer’s foot is the best manure.’’
Tips sourced from several farmers