NKGONO JANE SAYS...
Farming is a constant reminder of the circle and cycle of life – you have just finished harvesting and now you are planning for the new season.
Each year we start again and we hope to be able to achieve a good crop – as farmers we cannot lose hope because it is our belief in the next season that enables us to feed the world.
For many years now, we have been trying to help the larger farmers to access production credit. It remains very challenging due to the fact that the profits to be made in grain production under dry land conditions are really not very high. Another challenge is that the farmers do not have title to the land and so they cannot offer the land as security for a loan. Although this is a problem when it comes to accessing a loan, we must always bear in mind that if you offer your farm as collateral for a loan and you are not able to repay the loan, the bank will take your farm and sell it to recover the amount owing.
This brings us back to the basic of any farming and that is the profit motive. We will only be able to farm sustainably if we are making a profit every year – we have to get more back from the crop than it cost to produce the crop.
In recent times, there has been pressure on the profitability of grain and cereal production and we have to think carefully of which crops we can afford to grow in the different areas. It is necessary to work out the total costs of producing the crop on a per hectare basis – then the average yield that you are able to get from that crop in that area and multiply that with the reigning price. If your costs are higher than the income you expect to generate then you should perhaps consider other crops. There is no sense in producing a crop at a loss.
In some areas where the rainfall is low, and the soils shallow, there might be no crop that you can produce profitably and you might need to increase your livestock and plant fodder crops. This requires an assessment of your farm and the area in which you are farming.
In many instances, the banks turn down a production loan because they can see that you will not make a profit. We should not be angry with them and accuse them of being unwilling to help you they are actually assisting you so that you rethink the crops that you should be planting. They also want to see you succeed. We need to be absolutely sure that we can make a profit – otherwise we will not be able to continue farming for the long haul. It is nice to get grants from the Government, but we know that these grants cannot continue forever as there is simply not enough money to meet all the needs of all the people. We need to be able to make a profit without the help of grants.
Keep working hard and with time you will see results!
Publication: August 2018