Let’s do some real talk by exploring the dark side of farming.
Social Media is full of success stories in farming such as; ‘poultry farming made me my first million’ or ‘I quit my well-paying banking job to venture into farming’. LOL Farming is not all rosy, and neither is it a get-rich-quick scheme.
Very few negatives stories are posted; I guess the pursuit for feeling successful and showing off on social Media overshadows the daily failures of farming.
Well, before you get me all wrong, let me clarify that farming is for sure a profitable venture that can multiply your investment a thousand fold. However, things can also go bad, real quick.
Success stories are great, but let us also show the newcomers what awaits them. Both crops and livestock farming face challenges that could lead to massive losses.
Whenever challenges strike, farmers ought to grow a thick enough skin to endure the risks, learn from them, pick up the pieces and re-strategize on the way forward while staying focused on their goal. So if you don’t have the nine lives of a cat, think twice about venturing into farming.
Let me shed light on some challenges that face selected farming options;
- Poultry farming:
Poultry farming is quite a lucrative business if it works out for you. On the flip side, I know of a farmer in Nakuru County who reared 3000 broilers and lost up to 2500 birds to Newcastle disease. Another farmer reared 2000 layers but wasn’t keen. At 7 months, only 300 birds were laying, translated as 15% yield which is extremely low. It later turned out that production was low due to internal parasites caused by keeping chicken on the ground. Some farmers buy day old chicks and by day 5, they have zero; all Dead!
- Tomatoes Farming:
Don’t be fooled by the great red pictures of tomatoes online. Tomato farming can give you a stroke considering it is a crop that is highly prone to various attacks. Diseases attack at fruiting. Once viral, fungal or bacterial diseases enter the crop, there is no exiting. You will spend weeks spraying chemicals and losses will follow thereafter. Learn how to identify and control the most common tomato diseases early enough.
2. Unscrupulous vendors
- Maize farming:
When it comes to maize farming, seed companies selling fake seeds are the first frustration; you plant seeds that don’t germinate, and if they do, they underperform. A friend of mine planted maize in good timing last year but the yield was so bad that he could count the maize that germinated. He decided to slash everything out of frustration!
If you get credible seeds, fake fertilizers may be awaiting you. Some unscrupulous sellers mix fertilizers with sand and repackage.
To be safe, only buy seeds and fertilizers from credible suppliers.
3. High input costs against low returns
- Cattle Farming:
Cattle farming is a great venture. Feeding however, is one thing that you may always complain about because cows, especially, high milk producers, feed 24/7 and the feeds don’t come cheap. If that’s not enough, you need to know that milk prices mostly favor milk processing companies, so you might find yourself pouring some milk for lack of market or selling it at a loss all together.
4. Harsh weather conditions
Floods can wreak havoc in your farm. You could get to the farm and find your precious plants that were glowing few hours ago all swept away. Water logging also increases soil acidity and reduces fertility.
If you are located in areas that receive heavy rains, ensure your farm has enough drainage and livestock structures are well built. Storms can also kill your livestock, therefore you need to consider wind direction when constructing.
5. Market flooding
Many farmers complain of absence of markets after harvesting. Farming is an investment like any formal business hence as a farmer, you need to clearly understand your market. Start marketing your produce even before you see it; establish contacts. Otherwise you may be stuck with crates upon crates of your bumper harvest and no interested buyer because the market is flooded with the same produce that you are selling.