In Summary
  • The Ministry of Agriculture needs to start thinking outside the box and come up with packages for farmers such as evening or weekend classes even.
  • Israel is a wasteland yet we import food from it. It looked at what it had, studied its land, equipped itself with the right information and technologies and worked a miracle by making a desert bloom.
  • The media has helped people see the possibilities and opportunities in farming.
  • The most important thing I would advise those that have been thinking about going into farming is that they need to treat it as a business.

Leading business trainer Lydiah Njoroge this week dispenses a guide on maximising your returns. The Managing Director of SMEs East Africa spoke to KINGWA KAMENCU

You are a leading business trainer. What would you advise people going into farming?

If you’re going to be a farmer, you must hire professionals. All these graduates coming out of Egerton University are highly skilled and so it’s not that professionals are not available.

With a professional, you are working with a performance contract and deliverables. If you are paying them based on results and actual achievements, they will have additional incentive to work harder so you won’t have to micro-manage them.

You can predict your returns more accurately and have less headache along the way.

As investors, we invest too much in the superstructure- buying top grade cows and seeds- but we don’t invest in people.

In the same way that you build a good house and employ the best security people to take care of it, if you’ve invested a lot and are making good returns of Sh200,000 per month, you can afford to pay a manager Sh60,000.

Following this then, it won’t be the normal case of you calling and telling them that it’s time to give the cow water or transplant the seedlings; now, it will be that professional advising you what needs to be done.

You have spoken of graduates of agriculture, but we don’t seem to see many youngsters studying agriculture now.

The Ministry of Agriculture needs to start thinking outside the box and come up with packages for farmers such as evening or weekend classes even.

Also related to this is the question of where the knowledge that is produced in research institutions goes and who it benefits. Most of the research stays in the computers in fancy institutions when it actually could be having an impact on farmers lives out in the rural areas

So information is critical?
Absolutely. It is what will help us get out of the traditional crops we have been doing. We need to challenge the government on this a lot more.

I don’t see people knocking on the government’s doors to inquire on what information they have.

When all is said and done, farming is all about information. Israel is a wasteland yet we import food from it. It looked at what it had, studied its land, equipped itself with the right information and technologies and worked a miracle by making a desert bloom.

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