You have probably been told that as a telephone farmer, your success hinges on who you hire as your farm manager. Farming from the diaspora means that you will rarely set foot on the farm. The totality of day-to-day activities on the farm will be carried out by your farm manager.
As a telephone farmer, this lifts off a great burden off your shoulders and allows you to concentrate on other activities abroad. However, it also presents an opportunity to be ripped off by your trusted farm manager. Stay vigilant and be on the lookout for the following crazy stories from your farm manager.
1. The animals got sick and died
This is the easiest way to be ripped off when farming from the diaspora. To verify this claim by your farm manager, demand to see pictures of the dead animals. In order to rule out the possibility of the farm manager mischievously killing animals for meat, always call a veterinary doctor to ascertain the cause of death. If the cause of death is attributed to disease, carry out measures like vaccination. Always call in the local vet to investigate even if it’s just one animal or bird that is alleged to have died.
2. The plants were attacked by pests and diseases
Pests and diseases can ruin your entire harvest. Diseases like blossom end rot on tomatoes or pests like cutworms in kales can sink your entire project. Farm managers know this. Right before harvesting, it is possible for your farm manager to report a very unfortunate infestation of pests and diseases on crops.
Always investigate these claims through experts and consultants on the ground. Ask for pictures to verify any losses. To prevent similar occurrences of pests and diseases in the future, invest in controlling pests and diseases on your farm.
3. Predators made away with animals/birds
Predator attacks are common on farms located in rural Africa. Predators like lions and leopards kill livestock and eat them on site. Others like mongoose, hawks and wild cats kill and carry poultry to the wild. A predator attack like the latter can be very difficult to ascertain if your farm manager claims that it happened.
To prevent incidents of predator attacks, whether real or imagined, put in place security measures. These include security lights at night, surveillance cameras, proper fencing, predator-proof housing and keeping guard dogs on the farm. You should note that dogs can also prey on poultry so use the intensive system to rear poultry.
Cases of theft of livestock, poultry and crop produce exist in Africa. In cases involving telephone farmers, it is possible that farm managers facilitate these heists. Farming from the diaspora means that your project will always be at the mercy of the farm manager.
When the farm manager reports a case of theft on the farm, ensure that you involve investigators promptly. Red flags could include simple omissions like “forgetting” to lock the door of the chicken house in the evening. Such deliberate acts could reveal the true face of your farm manager.
5. Inflation of farm inputs
Farm managers can inflate costs of farm inputs and services by a big margin. Ensure that you research on prices of different inputs on the farm. You should also deal with farm input sellers who have an online presence. This will make it easy for you to crosscheck the prices given to you by the farm manager.
6. Low harvest due to little rainfall
You expected a bumper harvest but your farm manager informs you that the harvest will be low due to inadequate rainfall. It is possible to check this claim. During the crop’s growing season, find out from other sources about rainfall patterns in the area where your farm is located. The media and the internet have weather reports of many geographical locations.
Further, before and on the day of the harvest, ensure that a second party is present to verify claims of low harvest. To prevent the excuse of low rainfall in future, invest in irrigation.
These six claims are the most common from farm managers looking to abuse the trust telephone farmers. Farming from the diaspora will be easy if you learn to anticipate and counter these stories. Even if you trust your farm manager, and you should always strive to build a foundation of mutual trust and respect with your farm manager, always invest in investigating loss claims. Investigating has the dual benefits of (1) establishing a process of identifying and minimizing risks; (2) playing a deterring role for potential mischievous actions by your farm manager.