By Grace Bwogi
One of the biggest challenges farmers face is assembling an effective workforce.
Farms have collapsed after owners hired workers who turned out to be thieves, lazy and negligent among others.
Among other attributes, an effective workforce must be able to carry out are day-to-day activities of the farm without compromising the quality, quantity and resources available on the farm.
You are supposed to be the overall worker at the farm. You have to carry out the planning and initiate projects after consultations. However, you must supervise a team of other workers.
If you talk to farmers, the general conclusion is, good employees are very difficult to come by.
Note that good employees are hard to find and even harder to keep.
Here is how to get a good employee;
Word of referral
You can get this by talking to fellow farmers and in the process, a good worker may be referred to you.
Don’t poach on other workers from other farms because this has through experience caused disharmony among farmers.
This is turning out to be a big resource for daily farm labour, however, this can only apply to farms that are located near prisons for easy access to the farm. Furthermore, while prisoners are effective labourers, they cannot manage your farm because they do not stay there.
Hire a manager and allow him to source for a few workers
Some farm managers have got their workers and when you hire a professional one, he will come with them. But of course, a professional farm manager is relatively expensive.
If you cannot hire a professional, then make sure you train your workers by sending them to similar farms and workshops etc.
Look for raw village workers near the farm or further
It is common to see workers from the South-West working on farms in the Central region. This is what most farmers do. However, after hiring these raw workers, you need to train them. You can do this by taking them to exhibitions or to other farms that are practising similar enterprises.
How to retain workers
After hiring them, one of the ways of keeping them on the farm is to make them feel part of the farm. You can do this by
•Share your farm vision with them; this will make them human workers, rather than robots since they will be working on a clear vision. Tell them the objectives of the farm and how the workers fit in.
•Write an agreement and clear scope of work; this will help reduce cases of unfulfilled tasks since each worker knows what they are supposed to do.
•Take time to know and understand your people; for example, if you are hiring from a tribe that is not yours, learn a few things about the culture and behaviour of that tribe.
•Understand that each person has a weakness and strengths. So, make sure that you build on these to make your workers effective.
•Refer to people by name, not position. We all value individuality; this is an age-old tactic that is always rewarded with loyalty. When you call a worker by their names, they know you care about them and this improves confidence and morale on the farm.
•Build a conducive environment for them; this includes housing and sanitation facilities for example. Farm workers must not always stay in funny grass-thatched houses without toilets. Set up entertainment too. For example, there are farm owners who even installed DSTV for the workers to stop them from going out of the farm to watch football. These look like expensive ventures but they help keep workers on the farm.
•Allowing wives or husbands of the workers to either visit or stay at the farm. This may look disruptive in the short run, however, when you look at it further, it is less disruptive than a farm worker who wants to leave the farm to go and visit his or her spouse. In many cases, these spouses have turned into extra unpaid workers on the farm.
•Accept and value feedback from workers, as long as it is geared towards building the farm.
• As a person, you must also have passion and enthusiasm for your farm and the workers will follow your passion.
•Listen, and accept mistakes, but also encourage openness among workers
•Carry out a constructive disciplinary process and never show sides in case of any alternation among your workers.
When they perform well, make sure that you praise them. If you give them tasks, evaluate them regularly to see if they are meeting these tasks.