Farm business

Building a successful farm business may require cooperation with others in the value chain, financial or technical support, and a reliable market. Plus other information for farmers who are moving beyond subsistence farming.

 
 
 
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IFAD/Nana Kofi Acquah

IFAD/Nana Kofi Acquah

From subsistence farming to agri-business

For African farmers to successfully feed the continent’s expanding population, transformation of subsistence smallholder farming into commercial agri-businesses is essential. But how to achieve this transformation? Delegates from the African Green Revolution Forum offer their views about the importance of collective marketing, in order to obtain better prices and other benefits such as financial credit. Staying up to date with new technologies, such as disease-resistant crop varieties, is also crucial. However, the benefits from such changes will affect not only farmers and consumers but those working right along the food value chain, whether in transport, processing or retail.

published: December 2012

Celestine Kassaga

Celestine Kassaga

Better prices through market links

All farmers want to earn a good price for their crop, but many fail to do so for various reasons. In Uganda, Farm Concern International has helped to link cassava farmers and traders, achieving benefits for both groups. By forming ‘commercial villages’, the farmers have bulked their crop, making it much easier and more efficient for traders to buy it. And by meeting traders’ need for a clean, high quality crop, farmers have been able to earn a higher price. Wambi Michael speaks to a trader and farmer, as well as Farm Concern’s country coordinator in Uganda, to find out more about how linking farmers and buyers has created a ‘win-win’ situation.

published: November 2012

FAO - Roger Bosch

FAO - Roger Bosch

Agribusiness - inspiring the next generation

How can Africa’s young people be inspired and equipped to become skilled and successful farmers and agri-business entrepreneurs? Delegates at the African Green Revolution Forum in Arusha give their views, including the need to teach agri-business in schools, rural, agricultural training centres for school leavers, and use of social media and ICT to engage young people with agricultural information. Other suggestions include giving young agricultural graduates access to government farmland, and government support for loan facilities targeted at young people, to provide start-up capital.

published: November 2012

© Neil Palmer (CIAT)

© Neil Palmer (CIAT)

Attracting, training and empowering young farmers

Five participants at a recent conference on ‘Young people, farming and food’ share their thoughts on what is needed to attract a new generation of talented young farmers and food processors. They discuss which sectors of agriculture will be most attractive and offer the rewards young people are looking for, and consider the importance of training and investment. Dr Namanga Ngongi, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, believes that providing the right agricultural opportunities to a million young Africans could transform food production on the continent.

published: June 2012

Eva Luwerekera

Eva Luwerekera

Innovation - key to business success

Eva Luwerekera began her working life as a high school chemistry teacher. She then spent some time working as a sales representative for a seed company, and this gave her a longing to help farmers solve their biggest problem – finding a market for their crop. She set up Kiva Agro Supplies Ltd. which not only sells farm inputs but also trains farmers in crop management and identifies buyers for their produce. From the smallest beginnings, Eva’s company now has an annual turnover of more than US$350,000 and she still has high ambitions for the future. She believes agriculture is ‘the way to go’ for young people, and encourages them to be innovative and creative, achieving something big using local resources.

published: April 2012

FAO/Erick-Christian Ahounou

FAO/Erick-Christian Ahounou

Urban agriculture - part of the plan

In much of Africa, growing food crops on small plots of land within the city is frowned upon by urban authorities. However, in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, a more positive attitude to urban agriculture is developing. A multi-stakeholder forum has been established to lobby for urban farming, and the city council is in the process of developing a strategic plan, as well as policies and by-laws, to optimise urban farm production. Two urban farmers and an economic adviser to the forum discuss some of the challenges and solutions for city-based agriculture.

published: September 2011

IITA

IITA

Farming business - cut costs, increase profits

Studying economics at Yaoundé University taught Emmanuel Nguilé not only that farming could be a profitable business and a driving force behind development, but that to make money as a farmer, he would need to obey principles such as the economies of scale. He decided to cut his time and financial costs by setting up his own nursery for seedlings, and now cultivates 60 hectares of cocoa trees, as well as other crops such as plantain. He shows Martha Chindong around his farm, also explaining why pruning is so important to make cocoa cultivation both efficient and productive.

published: August 2011

WRENmedia

WRENmedia

Envy - holding back development

An experimental game which allows participants to destroy the money of other players, by spending a smaller amount of their own money, has revealed the destructive force of envy in hindering agricultural innovation. Dr Bereket Kebede explains more about his research in four Ethiopian villages, which found that people were ready to invest around 10% of their money in decreasing the money of others, even though this gave them no financial benefits and actually reduced the amount of money they took home once the game finished. He draws lessons, in terms of how agricultural innovations should be introduced within communities.

published: June 2011

Jeff Haskins/Burness Communications

Jeff Haskins/Burness Communications

Micro-insurance for crops

Poor or unreliable rainfall not only reduces crop yields, but can also deter farmers from investing in high yielding farm inputs, such as seed and fertiliser. In Kenya, the UAP Insurance company now offers weather-index based insurance to small-scale farmers. This means that if rains fail, participating farmers can be refunded what they spent on seed and other inputs. Under a new development, they can also insure the earnings they hope to gain from their crop. Eric Kadenge finds out more from a company representative and from a farmer who was among the first to buy the insurance.

published: June 2011

PrOpCom

PrOpCom

Tractors fill the rural labour shortage

Clearing or digging land in preparation for planting is very hard physical work. But in many parts of rural Africa, there is a terrible shortage of people who are willing or able to do this work, and as a result, crops tend to be planted late and yields are far below what they should be. But in Nigeria's northern Kaduna state, a partnership of public and private sector organisations is implementing a scheme to make tractors available to ordinary farmers, either through sale or hire. As a result, farmers have expanded their production and begun to sell their crops in higher-paying regional markets. Aveseh Asough speaks to some of those behind the project, as well as to farmers who have benefited, and enjoys some powerful singing along the way.

published: April 2011

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