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Stay focused on your business

July 2016

Many farmers are at present experiencing very difficult circumstances especially as far as finances are concerned due to the affects of the drought. And these circumstances are becoming even more concerning especially in those areas hard hit by the drought, mainly the summer grain production areas. And then we still have to face the normally difficult months of August, September and October.

Under these circumstances one tends to become very vulnerable to change what one has been doing. Furthermore, many farmers are naturally inclined to try new things. One could also now easily be challenged by so-called advisors to change. Be aware, it is easy to get carried away…and to lose money.

It is just human to consider different plans to overcome the difficult position you might be in now. However, be very careful. You must first overcome all the negatives of your present circumstances. Instead of attempting to make new plans now, focus on your present farming. You are most probably in dire straits regarding your finances; therefore do not take any chances now.

We are not saying there should be no change, far from that, but there are times to change and times not to change. Now whilst we are still experiencing the affects of the drought is not the time for major changes. Interesting, when looking around you – you will notice that basically all our successful commercial farmers are still farming with the one or two enterprises they started with many years ago. As of late there were also a number of articles in agricultural magazines of successful emerging commercial farmers. What have they got in common? They have stuck to the enterprises that they have started with and are becoming champion farmers of these enterprises, be it crops and or livestock. What has changed is their production methods, the equipment they use and the marketing of their products.

As an example – the biggest tomato farmer in South Africa started with a single hectare many years ago. He stayed focused on tomatoes because that was the crop he liked and he expanded his operations slowly by growing quality products and supplying the markets for twelve months every year.

Today, that company farms more than 1 500 hectares of tomatoes at any one time and their quality remains consistently the best. Why? Because they stayed focused. The one thing that has changed over the years is their production method that has kept up with the latest and newest technology available. And yes, they have included new enterprise but they still focus on tomatoes as their main crop.

For now focus on what you've got and do it properly. Instead of trying to make new plans now rather use the time to analyse your existing production and management thoroughly. Cover all the areas of management, production, purchase, marketing, financial, human resources, administrative, public relations, asset and stock and general management.

This drought has once again taught us that regarding the weather especially rainfall, our country goes through cycles. We are now experiencing a drought but climatic conditions will normalise again. We will experience normal years and even above normal years again and that will be the time to try new things. And that is the challenge – to stay in the business of farming over the long term, you must improve your business. All we are saying is to affect major changes now, is not the right time.

Unfortunately, remember you will again experience difficult seasons.

Focus on your present production and stay true to your crop/s which you have been producing and that you like. Compile a proper production management programme or improve your existing programme. Remember, a production management programme is a written, step by step description of the production process of a specific enterprise. It addresses the question “How to produce” in full.

From that attend to your budget. A budget is defined as a written plan of future actions, expressed in physical and financial quantities. Without a budget and without using it properly you will not survive over the long term.

Also focus on your natural resources. Is all your soil classified according to potential, and are you utilising the soil according to it’s potential? Should you be forced to plant less the coming season due to financial reasons ensure to plant on your high potential soils.

Focus on your existing equipment as far as it is financially possible. Are they in a good working condition and ready for a new season? Maintain and repair them to the best of your ability. And do not forget about the marketing of your product/s.
To summarise, stay focused on your existing farming business and produce the best product/s possible. Do not chop and change, rather become a champion with what you are doing and like to do.

Article submitted by Marius Greyling, Pula Imvula contributor
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Publication: July 2016

Section: Pula/Imvula