In a bid to become the most successful agribusiness entrepreneur, you read books and blog posts by the best agribusiness experts, attend workshops, training, and even field-days to stay up to date with happenings in your industry.
That's unrivaled commitment.
No doubt, soon enough you will get there, you think.
But there are some things most agribusiness experts won't tell you!
Let's take a look at those things one by one.
1. How to market your produce
Everyone in the Agribusiness sphere, probably, you included are kind of obsessed about producing tons and tons of food every year.
And the experts have not been left behind.
They are all telling you how to choose the best yielding varieties, how to use the best Agricultural technologies to maximize yields and so much more.
It’s even estimated that the right variety choice coupled with modern production technologies could improve yields by as much as 120%. Whether the increase in yields for you means profitability is debatable.
Let me explain before any of you get me wrong.
I concur that yields are central to any agribusiness venture, but, few Agribusiness experts will tell you that you cannot take your produce to the bank and make you profits.
As obvious as this may sound, you need somebody to buy your bountiful harvest. Only and only then, can you rush to the bank and count yourself an accomplished farmer.
What I mean is that, as much as all of us are obsessed about what to grow and produce more, it pays to also be obsessed about marketing those valuable commodities.
Never forget that Production is only half the battle, marketing of your produce forms the other half.
2. What to do immediately after harvesting
For most farmers and agripreneurs, their job ends after harvesting. For some, this is the time to start celebrating and most likely taking a break out of their busy farm lives.
And for a good reason so.
Their Agribusiness consultant, or advisor, made them believe that every farm operation ends at harvesting and handing over the produce to the consumer.
But you’ll rarely hear those so-called Agribusiness consultants tell you about things like value addition or postharvest handling.
Though optional, it’s extremely important to add value to your produce otherwise, you will be leaving a lot of money on the table. Value addition can be something as simple as washing and wax your fruits to more sophisticated processing strategies.
When it comes to post-harvest, you don’t have a choice but understand the best post-harvest practices.
It’s imperative to handle your produce carefully to minimize mechanical injuries and damages.
Other best practices could be things like prompt cooling and maintenance of optimum temperature and relative humidity throughout postharvest handling operations and application of fungicides, such as thiabendazole to avoid postharvest infection.
3. Where to find a market
I once attended an agripreneurs’ sensitization workshop, I won’t reveal where.
And there was this hype by the facilitators about immense benefits of growing this and that for income generation.
They explained how the population was growing and how the market was huge.
But one thing remained clear, they were not explaining exactly where the market was and how farmers could tap into the same.
These assumption based bits of advice cannot make you a successful agribusiness entrepreneur.
Why do we have people dying from hunger and malnutrition from one region, while a few kilometers away, others are suffering great losses as their produce rot in the fields?
Sadly, it’s because someone failed to properly inform them.
You deserve to be told the truth and not just beating around the bush.
As always though it’s your primary responsibility as a farmer to be more aggressive in creating place utilities and validating any ideas and pieces of advice sent your way.
Don’t wait to be told what to do or what to grow like a beggar waiting for food stamps to arrive in the mail. Be proactive enough to create your own destiny.
Do your homework by researching the market.
4. Agribusiness experts don't tell you how to be competitive
The consumers’ preferences keep changing by the day. What was the best quality yesterday, today isn’t. Value addition and channels of product distribution are equally becoming more sophisticated.
There’s a margin pressure at all levels of the supply chain and producers like you are facing the lowest profit margins.
Consumers are the main agribusiness drivers and they are leaning towards organic locally produced with food safety in mind.
Are the Agribusiness experts helping you match up?
I highly doubt.
Are they telling you how to minimize the cost of production in the face of growing concerns about food safety, traceability, and sustainability?
Are they telling you that, you need to invest in information technology systems to be competitive in the ever-changing market?
Well, they should, but won’t.
And here’s why,
Most of them are mean.
They want to keep selling you stuff. They want you to continue being their favorite guinea pig for their chemical experiments. Which is why they won’t offer or tell you the next point even if the consumers highly demand it.
5. Agribusiness experts don't offer alternatives
Here’s your greatest nightmare.
It’s called pest and diseases.
They create havoc in your fields. Think of false codling moth (FCM) in mangoes, think of Tuta absoluta in Papaya, talk about whiteflies, thrips, aphids, and blights in whatever crop you grow.
But nothing to worry. There are so many crop protection experts to handle all that, you think. Sure they are.
One problem, though, most of them won’t offer you free organic alternatives.
After all, it’s their opportunity to make as much money as possible from your misfortune. So, they write you a list of all the pesticide you need to buy and even formulate a nice annual spray schedule for you.
Everyone wins right?
You get rid of pests and diseases and you pay them for their ingenious expertise, you even buy their products!
As agribusiness entrepreneurs, we cannot do without pesticides. That’s the fact.
But, there are other sustainable ways to control pest and diseases that don’t break your bank.
Think of push-pull strategies in controlling stalk borers, think of using paraffin oil in controlling mealybugs, and soap in controlling aphids are all great alternatives.
But most importantly, cultural practices are the best means for preventing pests as well as the use of biological control measures.
6. What to do to be fundable
Most agribusiness experts will tell you to secure funding from financial institutions but won’t tell you that not everyone qualifies.
What’s worse they won’t tell you what you need to do about it.
Getting a loan could just be what you need to boost that venture to the next level. But are you really fundable?
Indeed, there are so many loan facilities nowadays targeting agribusiness entrepreneurs, but unfortunately, many don’t qualify because of poor enterprise management.
The biggest management challenge is record keeping. Your potential financier needs records to gauge the performance of your enterprise and an assurance that they’ll get back their money once they invest in your business.
Record keeping shows that you understand your agribusiness. Some financial institutions don’t award monetary loans but inputs. It’s important for you to understand this upfront.
7. How to turn research findings into tangible results
Research plays a vital role in creating the necessary technologies responsible for improving farmers’ livelihoods.
What is missing are people who can diligently help you, the farmer turns the research findings into tangible results.
Because let’s face it, why do we still have so many farmers and agripreneurs still struggling with old farming techniques despite the fact that governments and NGOs having invested so much in research and development?
Let’s continue researching but let’s use the same energy and resources to get tangible benefits that are sustainable.
8. Challenging status quo
Last but not definitely the list. Climate change and its effects.
The human race continues to be threatened by the adverse effects of climate change. Agribusiness is no doubt the biggest loser.
In a report by The Agricultural Business Chamber and Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa, Agribusiness confidence index has dipped below 50 points as a result of the worst drought ever to affect the sector.
Experts are encouraging you to use smart agricultural technologies but a few are telling you to change the type of crops you grow.
They are further encouraging you to find ways to live with climate change, but, a few are telling you not to accept or challenge climate change.
Find ways to stop destroying the ozone layer by, conducting environmental impact assessments of your Agricultural activities and mitigate against those impacts.
Let’s not be mean.
As we strive to get the most out of our Agribusiness ventures, and other activities, let’s think of the future generations.
Don’t rob from them.
You’ve just read about the most important things most agribusiness experts won’t tell you.
It’s for you to find out what’s important to you, your agribusiness, the planet, and other people. And, do the right thing.
Your business is your child.
Protect it like a mother protecting her siblings, and you won’t get it wrong despite what you’re or not told.
I help Agribusinesses under horticultural sub-sector, to be competitive in both local and international markets. Get in touch to let me know what you think.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published on July 29, 2016 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.