Updated: 7 Common Mistakes Newbie Farmers Make (and how to avoid them)

Saturday, June 3, 2017


We work with many emerging farmers regularly on improving their farms. That means that we see many of the common  mistakes that they make.

We can relate. We made a LOT of mistakes when we got started. One of the mistakes we made was not changing quickly to market demands. We have learned quite a bit since then and adapted to move forward and farm better.

Today we want to cover some of the common mistake and share some advice to help you increase your odds of farming success.

Let's get started:

#1 - Not having a farm plan

Don't skip the step of farm planning. A farm plan helps you design your farm's layout. If you intend to build a dam you need to know the best site to place it. 

Having a plan will also help you get to know your land better; you will determine where if any the wetlands are located, the drainage patterns, climate and soil types on your farm. Knowing this information is essential because you want to grow your crops in the best soil and if you constructing buildings you don’t want to place them on the arable land.

#2 - Not having any farming experience

The reality of farming is you need practical experience. People underestimate how hard farming can be. Don't decide you are going to be a farmer and then go out and wing it. You can try it, but chances are you are going to end up wasting a lot of time, seed, fertiliser , water and labour.

Instead get some experience by volunteering on a farm or farming in your current backyard. Then source high-quality information by reading, talking to other farmers and taking training workshops.
 #3 - Growing (or raising animals) without a market

Getting a market is the first thing you must find before put your crop into the ground. Without finding a market, you risk running huge losses by growing produce that your market does not want or only wants in limited quantities. 

Your production needs to work together with your marketing. Customers don't (typically) just show up on your doorstep, so you need to go out and find them. For your main farm product pick something that people actually want to eat or buy in large enough quantities.

#4 - Thinking about transportation at the last minute

Transportation can prove to be very costly especially for farmers searching for distant markets. I have farmer friends in Honde Valley that grow bananas and have some of their buyers in Harare. 

You can imagine the logistical nightmares they would face if they did not organize their transport in advance. Talk with other farmers and plan your transportation to avoid your produce going to waste.

#5 - Not keeping or updating farm records regularly

Without records, you do not know if things are going well or not. Keeping records helps you see clearly where your money is being spent. If they are going wrong, it is easier to track at what point that they started to go wrong. 

Farm records also allow you to compare yields from the previous season, to compare animal performance, and detect wastage or leakage.

#6 - Not having enough capital

Growing aggressively without enough cash. When you expand quickly you will need to hire more people and spend more on equipment. This will likely strain your farming business. It is better to make sure you have capital and can manage cash-flow before you scale your operation.

#7 - Spending too much time and money on things that don't bring in income

Before you buy or spend your time on something ask yourself if the task or product is important to your farm's bottom line. Limit spending money or time on the wrong things that don't bring in customers or improve farm productivity.

Here is to farming better! 

About the Author

Kundai Musarurwa is an award-winning farmer. She is also the co-founder of Emerging Farmer and Soko Mushrooms. Say hello @Kundeezy on Twitter. 

Disclaimer: while Emerging Farmer does everything to ensure the accuracy of our guides, it is important to contact an agronomist or your Agritex officer for accurate recommendations for your farm. Emerging farmer takes no responsibility for any losses or damage incurred due to information in this guide.


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