Cotton FieldNIGERIA is a country endowed with numerous natural resources: good and fair climate and large expanse of fertile land, most of which are still unused.  This is a country where every single soul should be fully engaged and be making money.

Since starting an agricultural business involves proper knowledge and planning, let us therefore look at common mistakes people make while starting an agricultural business and to learn how to avoid such mistakes.

1.    The single and biggest mistake that people make is not choosing the right farm business or product.  If you don’t have a slight interest in raising animals or growing things, please don’t go into it. Your interest might just be in distribution of agricultural products or processing. Discover the area of agric that you want to be involved in and start from there. For example, if you want to sell smoked fish, you really don’t need to have a fish farm to do that, you can buy fish from fish farmers and smoke them to sell. Last week, I met a lady whose monthly turnover on selling snails is about N400, 000, but she does not have a snail farm.

2.    Don’t rush into it prematurely: Many entrepreneurs rush into a business prematurely. If you are still working, don’t quit your job until you are fully qualified and prepared in every aspect to start your farm business on full time, that is, you can start your farm business on part-time without quitting your job. It is interesting to know that in the bureau code of conduct for Nigeria civil servants, the only PP – private practice allowed  is agriculture.

Starting your agric business after retirement might be too late. Honestly, it is too late! Organisations should assist employees to plan for retirement by organising pre -retirement training programmes.
CUAD offers a well packaged pre- retirement agric training programme for organisations.

3.    Not Seeking  information and advice: Many starters make the mistake of not seeking  for information or advice from others. Don’t be afraid to ask questions from people who are already in the business.Gain the advantage of learning what the worst problems are, based on the experience of those who have been there. Attend seminars and workshops, buy and read books. Remember information is power!

4.    Don’t depend entirely on outside resources to furnish the money to start your agric business. The first resource should be your own personal savings. If you have not started saving money towards the project, then it shows that you are not ready. Begin to save money now.  And when you ask  someone for money, be prepared to provide a comprehensive plan that includes your contribution and schedule for repayment.

5.    Failure to plan:  After acquiring land for your farming business, list out all the activities that you want to do on the land and map them out on a layout. Draw your planting time– table.

6.    Be flexible but not confused: After drawing out your time-table, there should be room for flexibility.

7.    It is a mistake not to have a lawyer when signing a land lease, a partnership agreement or a franchise agreement.

8.    Don’t fail to exercise rigid internal financial controls. Your goal is to make sure that your farm business receives all of its income, without any of it being siphoned off by waste, fraud, dishonest employees or simple carelessness. Do not delegate to anyone the authority to sign cheques

9.    Don’t be an absentee farm owner; be part of your business. Visit your farm and be actively involved in the day- to- day running  of the farm. Don’t abandon your farm to a consultant. Always remember that it is your money. Never blame your farm business failure on the person whose money is not in the business!Take 100 per cent responsibility for your actions.

10. Failure to envisage business downturns or challenges: Be rest assured that you will experience challenges in your farm business. Failure to accept this is a mistake.

No matter how prepared and  informed you are, there will always be some challenges. In reality, your cash flow projection might be far from your projection. What do you do? A slight mistake on the farm may even wipe out all your livestock, what do you do? That is not the time to quit but look for opportunities in the adversity.

some time ago i went into the business of fish farming, I lost some fish on the farm and some refused to grow as expected. I didn’t hesitate to cut cost, I stopped feeding the fish and ended up smoking them. That singular act exposed me to the business of smoking fish, which I’m found very profitable now.

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