Many farmers have their own stories about the mistakes they have made on their farm, whether it's a crop that didn't grow as expected or an animal that was not taken of well. Most of these mistakes are made by first-time farmers who are setting up their farms without any external help from experts. This blog will cover 4 costly mistakes that farmers make in Africa and how to avoid them.
Not Engaging Experts
Farming is a broad subject. For each agribusiness niche, there are experts who can guide you on how to proceed with your project. Experts or consultants can help you to make the right decisions from the beginning of your project all the way to production and marketing.
A first-time dairy farmer, for instance, should seek the services of a dairy farming consultant. The consultant will help in designing the dairy housing unit, picking the right cows, providing a feeding formula, disease prevention strategy, and sharing insights on marketing milk and value addition opportunities.
This shows that an expert can guide you through the entire farming process and help you realize profitability. While small-scale farmers can argue that hiring a consultant can be expensive, there is a way around this. Farmers in countries like Kenya and Uganda have always organized themselves in groups. In these units, government agriculture extension services in addition to non-profit organizations are able to provide consultancy services for free or at subsidized rates.
Overdependence on Rain
Overdependence on rain by farmers has proven to be a major issue in the farming community. The dependence on rainfed agriculture is problematic because it limits the ability of producers to plan their activities ahead and leaves them vulnerable to fluctuations in rainfall. With the changing weather patterns, farmers have been left with losses that are occasioned by either lack of rainfall or too much rainfall which leads to the destruction of crops.
Overdependence on rainfall also means that farmers have a uniform time to plant and harvest their commodities. This leads to an oversupply of some commodities, causing sharp drops in prices. Making a shift from rain-fed agriculture is what is needed in Africa. With water storage facilities, drilling of boreholes, and construction of dams, policymakers in Africa can help prevent the overreliance on rainfall to water the agricultural sector in Africa.
Low-quality animal breed and plant varieties
Another costly mistake that farmers make is selecting low-quality animal breeds and plant varieties. These are breeds and varieties that are not associated with high production. In livestock, low-quality animal breeds have genetic defects that will make it uneconomical to rear them. These include a very slow growth rate, low food conversion ratio, low production, and poor tolerance to common livestock diseases and parasites.
You should note that different livestock breeds are suited for different purposes. For example, Boran cattle are a good beef breed but not ideal for dairy farming. Similarly, Freisian cattle are ideal for dairy farming and not beef farming.
In crop farming, farmers also face the risk of purchasing low quality seeds. This results in low harvests and low quality commodities. In addition, farmers have to spend more on pest disease control as low quality seed varieties tend to possess little or no resistance or tolerance to common pests and diseases.
Poor Housing for Livestock and Poultry
In order to perform well, livestock should be housed in good environments. You can have the best livestock breeds and the best feeds but without good housing, your project can fail.
There are several considerations that some farmers fail to put in place when putting up livestock houses. You should always locate your farm in a secure and quiet place. This will help prevent intruders from accessing the animals. Noise will also cause stress to the animals, leading to low production.
The house should also be spacious and well ventilated. This ensures good air circulation. Find out the space requirements of each animal in order to determine the capacity of the livestock house. Overpopulating a livestock house will lead to stress. Animals in these houses also develop vices such as cannibalism. Overall, overcrowding will lead to poor performance across the herd or flock. Finally, you should ensure that the house has good drainage to drain any spillages on the floor. Keeping the floor dry helps the spread of diseases and parasites.
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