DESIRE ISIGUZO: SCHOOL FANNED MY FLAME FOR FARMING

We do not find a lot of young people who are eager to take up farming as a career but this is what Desire Isiguzo loves to do and she’s making a business out of it.

She started growing oyster mushroom indoors which produced a good yield. After graduating from the University, she began to grow plants and study their growth behavior. Now, she has acquired plots of lands to move her business to another level.

Desire helps to strengthen the local market by purchasing crops from the women traders. She then processes it into high-quality bean flour.  

She’s now is growing her agricultural brand- D’Yucca to be one of the prominent agricultural brands in Africa meeting both local and international standards.

How was growing up for you?

Growing up was everything for me, I was happy and I got all that I wanted from my family. My mom was a farmer and a civil servant.

Back then, I hated following her to the farm because I hated working in the blistering sun but I was made to follow them still. I was given seeds of corn to plant and I would dig up the soil. I was lazy about it, I felt it was stressful and it would make my hands dirty.

When I saw my seeds sprout for the first time, I was excited to see that I had created something.

When did you realize that Agriculture was something you wanted to do?

In 2010, I started out planting plantain which I did to earn some money for myself in school. Later on, it began to turn into more than just an avenue for money.

I realize that farming was something I thought about daily and I couldn’t stay a day without learning something about it.

Why did you study Plant Science and Biotechnology? Did it influence your farming business?

Initially, I wanted to study Agriculture, which did not work out. Non-traditional agriculture opened my eyes to different aspects of farming.

During our industrial training, we were taken to large farms, where we saw the practicability of what we were taught.  We were also able to practice what we saw even though we were not paid. Biotechnology teaches you how to stay in business in agriculture. I think school fanned my flame for farming.

What is the role technology plays in innovation and planting?

It solves a lot of problems. In storing cassava the conventional way, it can only last a day or two before it gets bad. But with Biotechnology, you can bury them in sawdust and sprinkle water on them and like they were never harvested, this keeps them preserved.

This is a post-harvest management technique. Other methods include seed bank preservation, which is preserving seeds by freezing. We also do seed multiplication with mushroom.

In hydroponics, you get to regulate the environment of your farm: temperature, pest, sunlight, and water thereby deciding what gets in and out of your plant. This gives you a better yield for business.

Where did your distinct brand name – D’Yucca come from?

In school, I was battling with a name for my brand. While I was thinking about it, I stumbled on a plant that is always green. I started reading about it and I found out that it is called Yucca.

This plant can survive fire, drought, and flood. Its tenacious characteristics made me name my brand after it. After my internship, I started making bean flour. I got an excellent grade for my project and begin to think that maybe this was credible and doable.

Did you experience challenges as a young Agropreneur?

Yes, I did. After my first mushroom project yielded a result, I put in all of my money into the second project and I did not harvest a thing. I made a mistake in culturing the sawdust used for growing the mushroom and all the plants died.

It was a painful loss but I learned not to skip on my precaution process again. Capital too is a constant challenge for me.

Where did your business capital and funding come from?

My mom! She believed in me and encouraged me. A lot of people tried to discourage me when I asked for funding. They said I won’t go through with it, that I was too young and I was a girl.

Why do you choose to specialize in growing Mushroom indoors?

Growing up we would gather mushroom from fallen trees in the farm. We would cover them in cocoyam leaves. My mom had a special way of roasting it and I loved it.

Growing mushroom at home reminds me of old times and of course, gives me the chance to eat it whenever I want to. Mushroom is also very healthy and it can easily replace red meat in the diet of diabetic people.

How did you find people to support you and join your team?

Every member of our team has their strength and I leave them where they are the strongest. They are all part-time now. Everyone has been part of the process, sharing ideas and critiquing my ideas.

I also have friends who are good in business whom I seek help and advice from.

Where do you see D’Yucca in 5 years?

Our logo typifies what D’Yucca is all about. The thirteen leaves signify the various aspects we want to branch into in future. In five years we would have used up three of these leaves:  tomato production, processing, and edible oil production

For young entrepreneurs venturing into Agriculture, what do you say to them?

Start small. I already talked about my experience of losing my entire savings in a haste to do something big.

Don’t pause because consistency is key. Keep getting your hands dirty and your hard work will pay off.

When desire isn’t working, what does she do?

She’s stalking her mentor online, cooking, reading, learning a new skill or having her beauty sleep.

This article was originally published in She Leads Africa

Chicken housing – get the basics right!

This first part of a three-part series will explore the basics of poultry housing.

The purpose of poultry housing is to provide chickens with a healthy and comfortable environment that’s clean, dry and secure. The most affordable type is a naturally ventilated house scalable to any size.

This doesn’t make use of costly air-conditioning to control the climate inside and does not need to be fitted with a lot of special insulation material.

The most common type of naturally ventilated poultry house is built with the two shortest sides constructed from bricks and the two longer walls from corrugated iron.

These are easily converted to day-range houses which allow chickens to be let out during the day to graze in camps.

Positioning Poultry House

In order to control temperature effectively a naturally ventilated house must be built in a north/south direction.

That is, the longer sides must face north and south, the shorter, brick sides east and west.

As the sun rises, the house is heated evenly and chickens do not compete for heat as a uniform environment is created.

The long sides must also have an opening that runs the length of the house. This helps with the exchange of gasses.

Carbon dioxide for one, emitted from wet chicken litter, has to escape the house as it moves upward.

If it stays trapped it can lead to the growth of harmful pathogens and influence the productivity of layers and growth rate of broilers.

The opening must face north because in South Africa strong winds usually do not come from a northerly direction, and this precaution will also help limit the possibility of a strong wind lifting the roof of off the chicken house.

Chickens do not like wind anyway. Any disruption to their comfort will affect their feed intake and, as a result, their weight gain or egg production.

The opening must be covered in mesh to prevent the entry of wild birds, which can transmit diseases to chickens.

Size

Egg or broiler producers must consider what the size their operation is going to be before they build a house.

A too-large house will need more input costs and require additional equipment and electricity to heat it during cold periods. Rather begin small and build additional houses as production increases.

Each house must be large enough to allow 8m² to 12m² per chicken. If no space is available for movement uneven sized chickens will be raised and they will be more difficult to market.

A chicken house must be built high enough for labourers to walk upright when they’re inside.

Farm location

To avoid high transport costs the chicken house should be within 100km of the abattoir or the point at which the eggs will be marketed.

It should also be located close to medicine and feed suppliers.

The site must be easily accessible by bakkie or truck. It should preferably be built on a slope so that water can run away from the house during rain.

Mud not only affects access to a house, it can be a breeding ground for harmful pathogens.

Various materials can be used, such as brick and mortar, stone or wood, but the material must be easy to clean.

If not, it too can provide breeding ground for harmful pathogens.

Wood, for example, can be used but must be treated and painted as some diseases may ‘lurk’ in cracks if not properly covered.

Temperature Control

There are three ways of heat production inside a house: heat produced by chickens, heat entering a house through the roof and walls and artificial heating.

Chickens are warm-blooded and maintain a uniform body temperature of between 40,6˚C and 41,7˚C.

It’s important to provide young chickens with an ambient temperature of 21˚C to 37˚C (depending on the production stage) and adult birds with a temperature of about 21˚C.

As hot air rises and cold air drops, thermometers measuring housing temperature must be at chicken height or knee height, and not at human eye level, because the temperature at the bottom of the house (where the chickens are) will differ from the temperature here.

Canvas is rolled up or down to control the temperature inside the house. Mesh ensures that no rodents or birds can enter the house and possibly spread disease.

A naturally ventilated house makes use of rolls of canvas on the corrugated iron sides that are rolled up or down, depending on whether the house needs to be cooler or warmer. Opening the canvas sides not also helps get rid of gases.

Sprinklers can also be installed on a roof as wetting a corrugated iron roof can help cool down a house.

Always ensure the birds’ temperature needs are being met. A chicken that feels uncomfortably hot will open its wings and stop feeding, and use energy that was supposed to go to weight gain or egg production to maintain its body temperature.

Cold temperatures can be controlled by using infrared lights, brooding systems and spot heaters which heat only a certain area in a house.

Chickens flocking around a heat source means they are cold and need more heat. A cold chicken will eat more to increase its body temperature and will be more expensive to maintain (due to increased feed intake), even though it’s not producing optimally.

When new chicks arrive, create a partition for them. This area can then easily be heated by a spot heater. This saves electricity as the entire house does not have to be heated.

Broilers produce more heat as they grow very fast and will therefore need less artificial heat. Larger, older birds and active birds, like free-range birds, also produce more heat.

If all factors work in favour of chickens, the end result will be a uniformly sized chicken the market wants.

*The next two articles in this series will discuss the basic principles of poultry feeding and disease prevention.

Contact Mpho Makhanya [email protected]  or 012 672 9153.

By Gerhard Uys

Source: Farmer’s Weekly

Avocados – Green gold for SA farmers

JOHANNESBURG – Whether you like to squash it on to your toast in the morning, millennial-style, eat it to cut your cholesterol with healthy unsaturated oil, or moisturise your face with it – if you live in the West, you’re probably rarely far from an avocado.

And that is very good news for South Africa’s farmers, struggling with drought, who are switching to a crop whose farm-gate price has risen 130percent since 2008.

Already, South Africa generates around R1.85billion a year from avocados, producing around 125000 tons and exporting more than half to Europe.

DELICIOUS: Avo

It takes six years to get an avocado plantation into production, but that is not putting farmers off.

“Forestry plantations are being felled and cleared and avocados planted,” said Derek Donkin, chief executive of the South African Subtropical Growers’ Association.

“There are also areas that were either bush or some grazing that have been planted to avocados.”

There are currently about 16500 hectares of avocado plantations, and that area is growing by about 1000 hectares a year.

Traditionally, avocados were grown in humid sub-tropical climates in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal, but now they are being planted in the drier Eastern Cape and Western Cape provinces.

Techniques such as drip irrigation, which drips water slowly on to the soil, and planting orchids on ridges to reduce surface run-off help to make the most of the water available.

“Traditionally, no one would ever dream about planting down there, but you need to pioneer – much like this farm was pioneered more than 100 years ago,” said Craig Lewis, an executive at the producer HL Hall & Sons on a farm near Nelspruit.

A worker sorts avocados at a farm factory in Nelspruit in Mpumalanga province, about 51 miles (82 km) north of the Swaziland border, South Africa, June 14, 2018. Picture taken June 14, 2018. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

The firm hopes that its trial plantation in the Western Cape – hit hard by drought this year – might allow it to extend what is now a six-month season to 10 months, to supply a global year-round demand.

“Although South Africa is planting 1000 hectares a year, we would like to plant a lot more,” Lewis said.

Donkin said the rate could hit as much as 2000 hectares a year within the next few years.

On a smaller scale, Tom Mdluli manages 188 employees on a 6000-hectare community farm in Mpumalanga owned by a Trust.

Move aside

It exports around 80percent of its 260 hectares’ worth of avocados – and is planning to expand by another 120 hectares. Even the wines famously grown in the Cape provinces may one day have to move aside for the avocado.

“They swop the annual crops like maize, cotton and alfalfa for more permanent crops,” said Wessel Lemmer, senior agricultural economist at Absa Bank.

“They even take out vines.”

Soure: IOL

Water availability: crucial to profitable livestock production

A successful sheep farmer recently told me that the availability of good water accounted for 80% of the value of his operation.

An animal’s biological processes depend on having enough water in its body. For example, water plays a crucial role in the digestion of feed in the rumen.

A cow suffering from dehydration becomes constipated; this, in turn, affects her appetite, preventing her from feeding properly.

Similarly, a dehydrated sheep cannot digest grass in its rumen successfully. This means that nutrients merely pass through the body.

Livestock deprived of water, particularly in winter when grass is dry, will always be in poor condition.

Milk production will be reduced, and offspring will either become stunted or take far longer to grow. Their immune systems may be comprised, leading to opportunistic infections or a parasite infestation, which could prove fatal.

The end-result for the farmer is low productivity and a dramatic drop in income.

Rain tanks

A storage tank is an efficient means of storing rainwater, but it requires a catchment area such as a roof from where the rainwater runs into the tank. Any old building, pump house, shed or structure with a roof can be used for this purpose, and troughs can be attached to the tank.

A simple, but sturdy, open-sided pole structure, using old corrugated iron sheets as a roof, can be erected at a selected site in each camp. This will fill a tank with rainwater during a heavy storm.

The larger the surface area of the roof, the more water it can collect. The structure can also provide shade for livestock.

Gutters feeding the tank should be firmly secured and cleaned regularly.

Dams

A small dam can be made, even by hand, to collect and hold water from a naturally occurring fountain or spring. Many farms, particularly in mountainous areas, have narrow seasonal ravines with bedrock or hard ground floors.

These are perfect places for constructing small weirs using concrete blocks. Such a structure should be fairly high (between 1m and 1,5m or so) and is best placed where the water does not flow too swiftly.

Strengthen the weir with vertically placed steel reinforcing rods of 14mm in diameter,
each metre across the ravine. Hammer the rods through the tops of the blocks as deeply as possible (0,8m to 1m) into the ravine floor and at the sides where the weir links to the ravine sides.

The weir itself should be two concrete block layers thick. Fill the hollow interior of the blocks with a stone-based concrete as they are laid; this will brace the reinforcing rods even further.

To strengthen the structure still further, lay brickforce mesh between each block course.

Silt may have to be removed from dams and weir areas from time to time, but this is not usually a problem in stony ravines. Some farmers, however, purposely leave silt in weirs to retard water flow and hence reduce soil erosion.

Mesh fencing can be spanned across these drinking areas. The surface can also be covered with old feed bags, shade cloth or even floating water lilies to reduce evaporation.

Supply sufficient water overnight

It is essential to supply water to animals kraaled overnight. Seven or eight hours of kraaling, particularly in summer or in kraals with salt licks or dry feed, can lead to physiological problems.

If camps or rangelands do not have enough water points, livestock will be forced to walk great distances to find water. This expends valuable energy and creates footpaths that later lead to soil erosion when it rains.

A homemade drinking trough

If you don’t have money to buy expensive drinking troughs, try the following:

  • Take a 20ℓ plastic container that once held liquid molasses
    (nothing else!) and clean it well.
  • Tighten the lid of the container and neatly cut a small hole in the opposite side; this is to insert a plastic or steel ball valve. I use a 20mm low-pressure plastic valve, which is cheap and easily replaced, so I cut a 20mm-diameter hole.
  • Cut a rectanglar hole in the top of the container, as shown. Link the trough to your water source.

I’ve found that these homemade troughs are surprisingly durable and last a number of years. Just remember that the water source should be at least 1m higher than the troughs to enable water to flow into them.

By Shane Brody

Source: Farmer’s Weekly

Mokgadi Mabela is Not Your Typical Farmer

“Native Nosi has to be the biggest female beekeeping company in SA and it will, I’m just giving myself 10 to 20 years to get it right, it may be sooner, it may be slightly later, but it’s something I’m working on and I continue to aspire for as long as I live,” says Mokgadi Mabela.

Mabela is a third-generation farmer and owner of Polokwane-based black and female-owned beekeeping farm, Native Nosi, and she is ready to shake up South Africa’s honey industry.

“The industry leaders in beekeeping are not black, they are not young, they are not female, so it’s important for me to keep [Native Nosi] that way.”

Launched in 2015, Native Nosi produces local and organic honey. Their honey is currently being sold on their e-commerce website, they also distribute to a number of small stores like Selina’s Food Store located in Greenside, Johannesburg.

Not your typical farmer

In an effort to bring about change, Mabela has not been afraid to bring innovative ideas to farming. An example of this is how she funded Native Nosi. Mabela raised funds for the farm through crowdfunding, which is still a relatively new fundraising method in South Africa.

They have raised capital on two occasions on the People’s Fund platform. In 2015 they raised R52 000 for machinery and equipment, in 2017, investors got the opportunity to own their own beehive. Native Nosi backers are rewarded a net R32.40 for every kilogram of honey harvested annually for six years from hives they have funded. The expected annual return is 16%.

She is also proving that it’s possible to do good and do well with her business model. They are helping rural beekeepers gain access to the urban market for their product.

“Once you get going, [the beekeeping industry] can be very lucrative because the honey is trading at bulk price between R60 and R80 a kilo so when you have a 20kg bucket you have about R2000 in your pocket.

Mabela studied towards a BA in political science at the University of Pretoria. As a student she helped to sell her father’s honey. After graduating, Mabela joined the national human settlements department before leaving to join her father in the beekeeping business with her own farm in 2015.

Today her goal for Native Nosi is not only to manage between 5000 and 10 000 hives, but to remain a primarily black and female majority-owned company.

It’s not a solution to always leave because you need to make it evident that it doesn’t matter what [happens,] you’re here to stay

Changing the bee industry – Mabela tells SME South Africa more about her journey as a beekeeper, from her small beginnings and her challenges to reaching her goals. 

Building a legacy

For me I’m carrying the responsibility of [continuing a] legacy because of that I feel the craft is bigger than me.

All in the family

It’s been very advantageous to come from a background of beekeeping that even though I’m only learning now at least I have a reliable source who can talk me through and help me to get to the next level whenever I have a challenge.

Gaining formal knowledge

When I started having my own beehive in Gauteng, I realised that I wanted to go on a short beekeeping course to formalise my knowledge of how beekeeping works.

So I went on a beekeeping course that was offered by Mike Miles, he’s the current chairperson of the SA beekeeping organisation which is the regulator of the bee industry in South Africa.

I do things differently than other farmers

Because I’m a small scale beekeeper I don’t think I’m as the white male beekeepers which normally dominate the industry in SA. On the practical side I’m doing [things] traditionally, but my approach to beekeeping I’m maximizing on social media and current trends.

Beekeeping is capital intensive as well so you can imagine for someone with my background I didn’t have the money to start, that’s why I had to be creative to use the people to help me start the business

Young farmers are needed

The industry needs a lot of young vibrant farmers because as you might know the bee population is declining and we need to address this by having more beekeepers in practice.

A lack of capital forced me to be creative

Beekeeping is capital intensive so you can imagine for someone with my background.  I didn’t have the money to start, that’s why I had to be creative to use people to help me start the business.

For example one beehive is going to cost you anything between R800 and R1200 at this present moment, can you imagine someone who is in the rural areas and wants to take part in beekeeping? If you don’t have somebody who is working and is in a position to help you, it might be very difficult to get started and get going even with one beehive.

My ultimate goal is to supply to major retailers

We are now working on getting accredited, working on getting our certificate so we can package from our own premises. If you bottle the honey and you’ve put a label on it, you have created value. When selling it in bulk you haven’t added any value to the product and therefore your income is limited.

That’s what I’m learning now and hopefully by the end of the year we will be supplying to at least one retailer so that we can be able to have a consistent client who we supply to at a larger scale and who will be able to secure our income and help us to grow in that regard.

Source: SME South Africa

How To Start A Farming Business

Contents in this guide

  1. Business Planning
  2. Location
  3. Equipment and livestock
  4. Training
  5. Market Positioning
  6. Funding
  7. Types of Farming
  8. Planning Stages
  9. Organisations

1. Business Planning

It would be wise to create a business plan for any new venture. There are a few points to keep in mind when planning the business.

Resource: Free Business Plan Template Download

2. Location

Choose the right location to farm in business

The location of your farm will have to suit the type of product you wish to produce. The choice is usually determined by space limitations, and the type of farming you wish to undertake.

For example, if you are going to sell Free Range poultry you would have to have enough space for the chickens to roam freely.

On the other hand chickens that are kept indoors are typically housed in rows of cages, called batteries, and this system requires a great deal of equipment and capital outlay.

If you are planning to produce maize you will have to consider the requirements for that product such as location and climate.

3. Equipment and live stock

How to pick your farming Equipment and livestock

Capital is required to buy livestock, equipment and land. Funds have to be budgeted for to cover buying or leasing of land on which to house the farm in a suitable area. The Department of Agriculture’s Mafisa scheme has been launched to fund smaller emerging farmers.

4. Training

Look at doing some courses before you start

Sustainable Rural Livelihoods (Livestock) Programme is a research, training and small business programme that addresses the basic issues underlying emerging farming systems and SMME Development in product processing and marketing.

They provide guidance in areas such as milk products for small-scale farmers, fruit and vegetable industry by-products as feed; goat leather production; feasibility studies and business plans for rural entrepreneurs.

5. Market Positioning

Have you thought about your target market

Market positioning is very important and you must consider carefully if:

  • The idea practical, and will it fill a need?
  • What is the competition?
  • What is your business’s advantage over existing poultry farmers?
  • Will you deliver a better quality service?
  • Can you create a demand for your product?

6. Funding

Farm funding options

Getting Finance

You need to have financial strength to support your routine production cycle. There are different ways to go about it. The Land Bank supports resource-poor farmers to become active participants in mainstream commercial agriculture through Agricultural entrepreneurship.

The Bank offers unsecured loans of up to R25 000. These are usually offered to small-scale farmers.

However, it is imperative for the loans must be used for agricultural purposes only.

The Land Bank offers short, medium and long term loans as well as Instalment Sale Finance which is a type of medium-term loan where the goods that you buy act as the main security for the loan: the goods belong to the Bank until the loan is paid in full. It enables all farmers, especially those with limited assets to grow their businesses.

Typical uses:

  • Farming equipment
  • Implements
  • Vehicles
  • Livestock

This finance package is available for periods between 3 and 10 years, depending on the expected length of life of the asset. Payments can be made on a monthly, quarterly, six-monthly or annual basis. An individual farmer or a group or any legal entity may access this type of loan.

Funding for farms outside South Africa’s borders

Approach Alliance for a Green Revolution for Africa (AGRA). If they cannot help, they may well be able to guide you to an organisation that can.

AGRA’s programmes and partnerships work to make changes across various agricultural systems. Integrated programs in seeds, soils, market access, policy and partnerships, and innovative finance help to transform various subsistence agri-businesses into sustainable, viable commercial activities.

One example is found in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania, where 700 000 smallholder farmers produced a record maize harvest in 2009, helping to feed drought-stricken regions of the country.

7. Types of Farms

Which farming style would you choose

Small Scale Farming

What kinds of farming are suitable for a 21-hectare plot? Should I farm with cows or grow crops? Small-scale farming can provide a good living

Smaller farms are easier to manage. You need a genuine interest in farming if you want to be successful. A farmer is a businessman first and a farmer second. You should have an entrepreneurial flair, be quality-conscious and self-motivated.

A. Dairy farming

To be a successful dairy farmer one has to have a love of cattle and experience in this field.

A person who wants to become a dairy farmer should spend time working on a dairy farm before striking out on their own. It is important to have an understanding of animal anatomy, cattle health, and milk production.

If you have no experience, take classes in livestock production and business management to help develop the skills needed to run a successful dairy farm. These include:

  • Animal handling
  • Practical skills such as the ability to do fencing and use mechanical tools
  • Mathematical and business skills
  • Communication and organisational skills

Dairy farming is a lifestyle

You have to work long hours every day of the year, and rise early to milk and feed the cows. You have to be detail orientated. Farmers must keep careful records on each cow so they can measure the cost of keeping it against the income produced.

To run a small community farm with 10 head of dairy cows where crops are also grown and sold, you need skills in both disciplines. These include being able to work independently, understand soils, crops and dairy production as well as the ability to observe herd health and behaviour

These are a few of the responsibilities you have to think about:

  • Manage pasture, stock and stock breeding programmes
  • Hire, organise and supervise farm staff
  • Buy feed, machinery and other farm materials
  • Attend stock sales to buy and sell stock
  • Dip cattle to ensure good health and remove parasites
  • Wean calves
  • Manage and prepare stock for slaughter
  • Control pests and weeds
  • Maintain farm buildings, yards and fences

You can make money by selling products produced at the farm to big dairy companies, or sell your own products if you can afford the processing equipment.

B. Crops

In South Africa, only about 12% of the country can be used for crop production. High-potential arable land comprises only 22% of total arable land.

Therefore you need to find out what crops would be suitable for the farm you have. This depends on soil type, water supply and a host of other considerations. Contact the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for more information.

Legislation

Before you go ahead and start farming check details of any legislation and regulations governing the industry, product and production processes.

Consult with the local municipal authorities to ensure that the land is zoned for farming and that there are no by laws that could affect the farm negatively.

Register the business with SARS so that you are compliant with tax and labour legislation.

8. Planning Stages

Farm planning

Business plan

To start any business, whether it is a farm or a factory, you must prepare a business plan (See mySME Tools). Information in each section of the business plan should be concise and include an evaluation of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that may apply.

Production plan

Every farm is unique, in terms of location, soil quality, labour requirements and so on. The business plan must therefore include a “production plan”. This encompasses all the details explaining how your farm operates and what products it will produce for market.

The production plan includes such things as land, buildings, equipment, supplies and processes, as well as laws and regulations that influence the business. Production is the core income-producer for a farm, so this section must be very detailed.

You will need to do extensive research into the capabilities of your land, the type of farming you choose, market requirements and the buyers in your area.

Equipment

Within the business plan, you must include the cost of equipment and storage facilities. These are needed for storing feed and the plants that are produced. For example, cow manure is a good fertiliser for crops but needs to be stored.

If you run a dairy farm, you can milk the cows by hand. However, having automated milking equipment can cut the time required to produce milk.

Finance

Commercial banks offer a wide range of finance, investment and risk management solutions across a diverse range of agribusiness products and services for the agricultural value chain.

The Land Bank of South Africa is an agricultural development finance institution that supports economic growth through the provision of retail, wholesale, project and micro-financial services to agriculture and related rural services.

It offers long, medium and short-term loans. Alternatively, click here to find out more about the various financing options available to you.

Training

For training in agriculture ARC (Agricultural Research Council) offers a number of courses which include: Pig production, beef cattle management, small stock management, poultry production and meat processing.

Other courses offered by other institutions of ARC are:

  • Grain Crops Institute – Maize and dry beans
  • Plant Protection Institute – Bee keeping.
  • Vegetable and Ornamental Plants -Vegetable hydroponics.
  • Fruit, Vine and Wine Institute – Preserving of fruit

Other sources to contact:

9. Organisations

Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

  • Postal: Private Bag x250, Pretoria, 0001
  • Tel: +27 12 319 6000

SA Poultry Association

Poultry Reference Laboratory

  • University of Pretoria, Private Bag X04, Onderstepoort 0110
  • Tel: +27 12 529 8224
  • E-mail: [email protected]

KwaZulu-Natal Poultry Institute

Irene Animal Improvement Institute, Advisory Services

Agricultural sites

These websites can help regarding agriculture:

 

Source: Entrepreneur Magazine

Cricket Farming: The Future Of Food

Have you ever thought of consuming a meal made of crickets?

Would you embrace an alternative eating habit that would introduce the chirping insect to the food on your table?

A few years ago, a former Finance Minister in Kenya suggested that Kenyans diversify their eating habits by eating ants, rats, and roots as a way to fight food insecurity and malnutrition. This sparked a heated debate among Kenyans. Some argued he was insensitive for making a joke out of a serious situation when thousands were suffering from food shortages and malnutrition.

Rearing crickets to boost food security

However, as Kenyans still debate on whether to embrace alternative eating habits, some residents of Bondo, in Nyanza, are already living it. A group of farmers in Bondo has turned to rearing crickets to boost their finances as well as tackle food insecurity. I travelled to the region where I met 61-year-old, Florence Awuor, who has been cricket farming for the past four years. She is among several farmers from the region who received training on cricket farming for a month from the Jaramogi Odinga Oginga University; after which they were given the first batch of crickets to start with. When she was back home she also started trapping crickets in her farm when weeding to add to her lot. “I decided to do cricket farming because I think it is a nice venture. You don’t need so much to start it because we have crickets all over,” she says.

Florence notes that cricket rearing is much easier compared to crop farming. She keeps her crickets in large buckets inside a small room, just about 5ft by 6ft. As of now, she has seven buckets, each covered with a white net. This she says helps to keep the insects inside the bucket, therefore, protecting them from the predators like rats. Inside the bucket she has placed egg trays, making it a bit darker and providing a perfect hideout for the nocturnal insects. At the bottom of the bucket, she places flour that the crickets feed on. “I also place sukuma wiki (kale) inside the bucket for the crickets to feed on and because crickets also need water, I sprinkle some water on the sukuma wiki,” she says. She monitors the temperature of the room with a thermometer to ensure that the temperatures are retained at 35 degrees Celsius. Very high temperatures would kill the insects, whereas 35 degrees Celsius is ideal to enable hatching of more eggs. Each bucket has crickets in different stages of growth. Mature crickets lay eggs that hatch within a few days. Each female cricket can lay five to ten eggs a day. By one and half months, the new insects can lay eggs, thus continuing the cycle. She only harvests mature and she is elated to take me through the process of harvesting and frying crickets, the quickest delicacy to prepare.

Preparing fried crickets

First, she boils some water. Then she picks some crickets from the bucket and immerses them in the boiling water. This is to make them lifeless as well as to remove any germs and dirt on them. She does this with a sense of urgency as some crickets try to hop and escape.  After about one minute she removes them from the water using a sieve. She lets the water drip off of them and dry. She then puts them in a frying pan and adds a little oil. “Crickets have their own oil so we will just put a little to prevent them from sticking to the pan,” she says. She lets them fry for about two minutes and adds some salt as they start tanning. She stirs it for a minute and it is ready to be served.

As we sit down to try this new delicacy, Florence tells me that her family and friends were stunned and did not understand why she was keeping the insects. However, today they support her and they like feeding on the various dishes she prepares for them. “My children and grandchildren were a bit cynical about the whole idea, but today they are the ones who ask me to prepare them cricket meals,” she says.

Trying out crickets for the first time

I was not sure if I wanted to try eating the meal set before me. She was serving the fried crickets with rice. After some deliberating and thinking of ways to respectfully decline the meal, I gathered the courage to try. Taking the first bite cautiously, thinking about the insect it was before it was served on the plate. However, by the third bite I was liking the sweet aroma and the crunchiness. By the time I was finishing my plate of food, you would not have thought I had hesitated at the beginning.

 A kilogram goes for $5

Florence is among more than 20 farmers from her area who rear crickets and they market their products collectively. They supply to one of the major hotels in Kisumu, the lakeside city in Western Kenya. They also export to neighboring Uganda where residents are more used to consuming crickets. Her group also exports some crickets to the United States, but her wish is to be able to convince more locals to consume since they have the capability to produce more. She sells a kilogram of crickets at 500 shillings ($5) which she believes is a fair price.

After trying this delicacy, I decided to ask a cross section of Kenyans, both in Nairobi and Bondo, if they were willing to try out crickets. Many expressed mixed reactions about the subject.  Kevin Otieno, a resident of Bondo said he could only eat crickets if he has no other meal. George Sewe, also a resident, said he has been consuming crickets for years and he does not understand why other people are scared of trying it. In Nairobi, Clare Nduta says that so long as they are not poisonous she can eat them.  For Paul Kamau, cricket farming should be encouraged countrywide to enable many families in other regions to have a taste of it. “I have read various researches about crickets and I just wish that the government could take up the project and roll it out in large scale,” says Paul.

 Convincing farmers at first not easy

Florence learned the skills after being taken through one month of training in a local university. This was a concept brought by Prof. Monica Ayieko, coordinator of food security, at the university. At the university they identify a potential farmer, they then train them and give them crickets for startup which they can use to maintain the cycle. At first, it was not easy to convince individuals to try out cricket farming as most locals consider crickets as useless insects. With time, they started embracing the idea and now they get trained and the University helps them to get markets for their crickets.

Prof. Ayieko says that crickets are readily available and do not have any harm to the body when consumed. Crickets are very nutritious and that is why the professor is always advising mothers to feed their children with crickets to fight malnutrition. She notes that crickets are rich in proteins, zinc, iron, copper, calcium and low on calories.

“Kenya’s food security index is about 36%, which is very low. If we break borders and bring in new foods that are nutritious and acceptable then we will increase by at least 20,” she says.

Value addition is essential in this venture and Prof. Ayieko has introduced various cricket cuisines which are now on the shelves of many shops and menus of several hotels. These cuisines include; crushed cricket biscuits, cricket samosas, cricket fried rice, cookies and cricket fritters. The cricket biscuits and cookies are made by a mixture of flour with crushed dried crickets through a mortar with a pestle.

People consume more than 1,900 insect species globally

Insects form the largest number of living creatures on the earth, but how many species of insects can be edible and can it be the answer to food insecurity? A recent Food and Agriculture Organization report revealed that people consume more than 1,900 insect species, globally with the most common edible species being beetles at 31 percent, caterpillars at 18 percent, bees, wasps and ants at 14 percent. Following these are grasshoppers, locusts and crickets (13 percent). Termites, which are among the most common in Kenya, stand at a mere 3 percent. The research, titled “Edible Insects; Future Prospects For Food and Feed Security,” acknowledges that insects are one major and readily available source of nutritious and protein-rich food. The report said that consumer acceptance is the biggest obstacle to making insects a viable source of protein. FAO recommended alternative solutions to conventional livestock and feed and said the consumption of insects contributes positively to the environment, health and livelihood of populations.

FAO also notes that one in every four children in Sub-Saharan Africa is undernourished. The ‘hop and jump’ insects might be the much-needed solution to address malnutrition in the continent.

Source: Africa.com

‘Soil Sista’ profits from the informal vegetable market

At 9pm on most weekday nights, many South Africans are in front of the TV, comfortably digesting their supper of meat and vegetables.

Not so for KwaZulu-Natal fruit and vegetable farmer Zama Buthelezi, who was placed second in the highly contested 2017 SAB KickStart competition.

By 9pm, Zama is invariably asleep, recovering from a working day that began at 3am.

When she started her working career in 2001, predominantly in financial management, Zama would probably have laughed at the thought that she would one day swap her business suits for gumboots and overalls, and plant, pick and pack vegetables.

But this is exactly what happened 10 years later, by which time she was married to Andile and had a son and daughter, Dingaan and Zola.

The change was actually triggered by Andile’s father, Aubrey, when he invited his son to assist him with running his 549ha sugar cane farming operation in KZN’s Albert Falls area.

This meant that he had to leave his job as a business analyst.

“Looking at the financials of the sugar cane farm, Andile and I realised it could not fully support both Aubrey’s family and ours,” recalls Zama.

“So we decided that while Andile would earn some of our family’s income by helping manage Aubrey’s farm, I would look at starting my own commercial farming business, with a focus on vegetable production due to the fast cash turnover for added income.”

With the help of Ithala Development Finance Corporation, Zama and Andile found the 116ha Glentworth Farm in the Baynesfield area.

“When we got here, we found that the farm hadn’t been used for many years,” explains Zama.

“The lands had reverted to veld grasses. But I saw opportunity. Andile and I chose to spend our savings on rehabilitating the farm and starting with vegetables, instead of on both rehabilitation and paying off a bond. We secured a four-year lease in 2011, which was extended for a further three years in 2015.”

Since 2011, Zama and her ever-growing team – now up to 16 permanent and 15 seasonal workers – have gradually transformed Glentworth into a fully functional mixed cropping agribusiness. Their goal is to buy the farm this year.

Crops and management

Commercial vegetable production is the primary enterprise, but Zama also has 10ha of irrigated sugar cane and a 2,7ha orchard of still immature pomegranates. In addition, she intends establishing an 8ha gold kiwifruit orchard before long.

Her vegetable enterprise comprises 5ha to 6ha of cabbages planted and harvested year-round in a three-month cycle; between 1h and 2ha of spinach planted and harvested year-round in a five-month cycle; and 5ha of potatoes planted and harvested in a 12-month cycle.

Potatoes being harvested on Glentworth Farm. The property had been neglected before Zama Buthelezi began leasing it in 2011.

In summer, she harvests one crop each of butternuts (2ha), green maize (10ha) and green beans (3ha). In winter, she harvests one crop each of lettuce (2ha), peas (5ha) and beetroot (1ha).

Back in 2011, Zama had very little farming knowledge, but she threw herself into learning as much as she could as quickly as possible. She did this mainly by attending a variety of short courses hosted by Cedara Agricultural College and Tshwane University of Technology.

She has also received advice from other farmers, including Aubrey, as well as agricultural experts.

Finding – and keeping – buyers

How to find and keep vegetable buyers has been one of the most important lessons of all.

“When I started out, I naively contacted the large retail chains and asked to speak directly to their fresh produce buyers,” Zama recalls with a wry chuckle. “While I could grow plenty of vegetables to supply them, I wasn’t prepared for the stringent requirements of the retail chains.”

Still laughing, she says that in 2011 she wasn’t even aware that there were municipal fresh produce markets in nearby Pietermaritzburg and in Durban.
Instead, she sought out bakkie traders in both areas. She explains that these typically work in small groups to have better bargaining power and distribution networks.
They buy vegetables directly from farms or fresh produce markets, then travel to various areas where they either sell directly from their bakkies to passers-by or informal street hawkers.
Zama initially began working with a group of five bakkie traders based in Pietermaritzburg.
“In 2011, I grew only 0,6ha of cabbages,” she says. “The traders were so impressed with the quality they asked me to increase the scale and variety of my vegetable production, something I’ve been gradually doing ever since.”
She soon learnt that to deal successfully and profitably with the bakkie traders it was imperative to know the latest daily market prices for Glentworth’s fresh produce.
The traders themselves are well-informed about local supply and demand, and Zama has to be on top of her game to achieve the best possible prices from the traders.

Understanding customers’ needs

Zama is also keenly aware of the requirements of her informal consumers. For example, they want larger cabbages than are commonly found on retail shop shelves, and are willing to pay more for these, provided the quality is consistently good.

“I sell most of my vegetables to lower-income consumers,” she explains.

“Many in this group don’t own fridges, so they want fresh produce that also has a reasonable shelf-life at home. I provide this in a number of ways: through good crop management, by knowing which varieties to plant and when, by making sure my soil health and fertility are optimal, by carefully deciding on when to harvest each crop, and by best post-harvest produce handling.”

Bakkie traders and formal markets

Come rain or shine, up to 10 bakkie traders at a time arrive on Glentworth Farm well before sunrise.

“One bakkie can take 300 cabbages or 1 800 green mealies. About a month before my crops are harvested, the bakkie traders start scouting my lands with me to get an estimate of what the quality and quantity of each harvest is going to look like. About 70% of all my fresh produce is now sold to bakkie traders.”

Bakkie traders, however, are not particularly big buyers of what they say are ‘slower-moving’ produce, such as carrots, beetroots and potatoes. So while Zama grows a variety
of fresh produce to generate income throughout the year, her other clients include a
major KZN retail chain.

In addition, she supplies the fresh produce markets in Pietermaritzburg and Durban. In this way, she sells those crops that are not in great demand by bakkie traders.

Adding value

Zama continually seeks more opportunities for her vegetable business and is in the process
of developing an on-farm value-adding facility that will cater specifically to low-income consumers.

These people typically work a full day, travel long distances by public transport between home and work, and have families of about seven members on average.

Despite working a full day, the women in the family are expected to cook and serve meals to the family.

“Major retailers do sell processed vegetables, such as grated cabbage and cubed butternut, which are aimed at making food preparation easier and faster for consumers. But these are generally too expensive for low-income families and the portions are too small. I want to start providing correctly sized processed vegetable portions at affordable prices.”

She also wants to deliver these products directly to outlets in townships, cutting out the middle-man to keep the till price as low as possible.

Soil Sista brand

Zama has already registered her ‘Soil Sista’ brand, under which she will market and label her produce.

She intends establishing her on-farm processing facility once she and Andile officially own Glentworth Farm. This will all be a gradual process, but will be greatly facilitated by her R400 000 prize money.

Phone Zama Buthelezi on 079 505 8006 or email her at [email protected].

Source: Farmer’s Weekly

Exploring the best tactics to combat Fall armyworm outbreaks in Africa

Cereal farmers across sub-Saharan Africa are experiencing heavy losses due to the devastation by an invasive pest: the Fall army worm – Spodoptera frugiperda. In Africa it has caused huge losses to staple cereals, especially maize and sorghum, affecting food security and trade. Damage to maize alone is estimated to be between $ 2.5 – 6.2bn per year.

The Fall armyworm’s lifespan, from egg to larva to moth, lasts between one to three months. It’s during the larval stage that it does the most crop damage. Controlling them is a challenge because they reproduce fast and in large numbers, can migrate great distances, hide within growing leaves and have been reported to resist several pesticides. Emergency responses by the affected countries have been based on the use of pesticides but in most cases, this has proven costly and not very effective.

Adult male moth. Sevgan Subramanian

Various tactics – both old and new – are being tested to try and control the Fall armyworm in Africa. These include the use of inter-cropping technology, natural enemies, early warning systems and use of biopesticides.

To combat the voracious pest, and prevent the huge losses, policymakers, extension agencies and growers could learn from the experiences of farmers in the Americas, and adapt the same to suit the smallholder African production system. This knowledge must be shared with farmers and agricultural officers. And any policy developed must involve local and international stakeholders before being rolled out.

Stopping the outbreak

The pest, an alien from the Americas, was first reported in Africa in 2016. Starting in the São Tomé and Príncipe islands and Nigeria, in just two years it spread to over 38 African countries.

The speed with which they spread could be due to a few factors. Firstly, female armyworms produce a huge number of eggs (between 50 – 200 eggs per batch), and can have up to 10 batches within her lifespan. Secondly, the moths are carried by the wind across vast distances. Some have been known to travel up to 1,000km. Thirdly, numbers aren’t being reduced by their natural enemies which means they can multiply uninhibited.

All these factors are crucial to keep in mind when managing an outbreak.

Pesticides: In sub-Saharan Africa, most food is produced by smallholder farmers. When they try to control an outbreak they will often use pesticides as these are believed to instantly suppress the pest. The use of chemical pesticides seems to be the most common practice that is currently heavily supported by the government.

But pesticides can be harmful, particularly to the environment as they affect non-targeted organisms, like bees.

Though often overlooked, there are other, more natural approaches which have proven effective.

Push-pull and other intercropping technology: In this approach crops are grown alongside one another. Some act as a deterrent to insect pests and weeds. The system has reduced pest infestation drastically. This technology has the additional benefit of providing high-quality fodder for livestock and improving yields and soil fertility.

For example, when a “trap” crop (such as Napier grass) is planted around maize rows, it attracts stemborer moths to lay eggs on it. But, because the grass isn’t nutritious, very few stem borer larvae will survive.

In the case of fall armyworm, this has proven effective when maize is inter-cropped with drought-tolerant Greenleaf desmodium and planting Brachiaria as a border crop around this intercrop. When compared to mono-crop areas, data collected from over 250 farmers, who adopted this technology in drier areas of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, showed a reduction of 82.7% in the average number of larvae per plant and 86.7% in plant damage per plot. Intercropping maize with edible legumes can also result in up to 40% reduction in armyworm incidence and damage.

On the basis of these multiple benefits, the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology and partners are rolling out the approach in sub-Saharan Africa.

Early warning, surveillance and monitoring systems: Surveillance and monitoring are crucial to managing an outbreak. They ensure that identification happens very early, before a full outbreak, and allows for proper response management.

Pheromone traps, which use the smell of a female armyworm to attract a male, can be a very useful surveillance tool. Judging by the number of moths captured, an infestation can be quickly recognised. These types of surveillance systems are already being demonstrated within some communities. The traps can also be used for mass trappings to reduce the numbers.

Biocontrol: several ecologically sustainable biocontrol solutions are available to farmers. The release of natural enemies is one of them. Parasitic wasps for example can provide (up to 70%) control for Fall armyworm by laying their eggs on or inside the Fall armyworm eggs or larvae.

Scientists at International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology have also identified locally available natural enemies, such as the wasp Cotesia icipe, which has proven effective against the armyworm larvae in the lab.

If these natural enemies are reared in bulk, they can be released in huge numbers in affected fields and conserved. As they multiply in the fields, they can control the pest as they feed on the pest’s larvae.

Biopesticides: These are a fungal, viral or bacteria based product which kill the Fall army worm. Examples include the fungi-like Metarhizium anisopliae or bacteria-based Bacillus thuringiensis that have proven effective against Fall armyworm and have been used to control it in the US and Brazil.

There are also botanical pesticides which act as both deterrent and toxins. These can prevent the caterpillar from feeding on the crop but also interfere with its ability to grow.

The ConversationEfforts to control Fall armyworm by African governments could draw on the lessons of all these interventions which have been used in the Americas but also trialled in Africa. Obviously, local adaptations will need to be made. But the Fall armyworm will remain in Africa for a long time unless concerted action is taken, drawing on the various methods from America and those available in Africa.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Source: Bizcommunity

Meet Tom Osborn, The Founder and CEO of GreenChar in Kenya

At the age of 19, Tom Osborn has already been recognised as one of the world’s top entrepreneurs.

GreenChar is a clean energy start-up that produces charcoal briquettes for cooking purposes that are both healthier to use and last longer.

The coals he produces from recycled agricultural waste such as sugarcane, which studies show emit 90% less smoke, and have 60% more energy than the normal charcoal used for cooking.  Now that is clean energy there.

Tom’s company is causing a buzz because of his innovation, thats not only a business but is also environmentally more friendly. Forbes has named him one of the  global ’30 under 30′ social entrepreneurs, including many other accolades.

Health concern

It all started when Tom realised how smoke affected his mother as she cooked and he set out to change all that. One day, in school, he came a report that stated “charcoal killed more people than AIDS, Malaria and TB combined,”. That cemented his resolve to come up with a solution, leading to the birth of GreenChar.

Challenges

Having a good idea wasn’t enough, it had to be marketed , since it was a new product he had to introduce it to people first. People will usually not pay for a product they don’t know, so Tom decided to give free samples first for people to spread the word. Next he had to compete with traditional methods of energy, which he decided compete by lowering price with the added benefit of healthier choice and eco-friendliness. The strategy worked.

Growth through Partnership

Greenchar increased productivity by re-investing their sales revenue into the business. To realise added capacity, the company had to hire more stuff so they decided to diversify by partnering with Envirofit, a global manufacturer of cookstoves that ensured optimum efficiency of his Eco-friendly charcoal briquettes.

Now Greenchar is selling the products in a bundle, stoves and charcoal,  ensuring reoccurring custom. His message to aspiring young entrepreneurs

Just do it, START,

Know how to tell your story, think about how to sell your product.

Source: How Africa

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