Today i want to share an article i found on smallstarter. The owner, John-Paul Iwuoha shared his insights and 4 years experience as urban farmer in Lagos, Nigeria. He is a passionate entrepreneur whose passion is in entrepreneurship and business in Africa. He shares great business ideas, his experience and success stories on his blog to inspire young African entrepreneurs.
This key lessons are important for anyone who wants to go into the agrobusiness or any type of business at all in Africa.
Note: This post is an extract from the main article. You can read the full article here → My experience as an urban farmer in Nigeria
Now get it from the horse’s mouth:
“Forget theory. Like my mom would say, ‘experience is the best teacher’. I did some agricultural science in my secondary school days and I can tell you that practical farming is a different kettle of fish, when compared to the theory we learn in school.
So, I’m going to share five key lessons I have learned from my short experience as an urban farmer.
1. Passion is key. You need to love it to do it.
It didn’t take me long to realize why a lot of young people are not interested in farming. It’s hard work. It’s not the hardest work in the world, but compared to sitting in an air-conditioned office and tapping away at a computer, it’s hard work.
I have found that if you don’t have a passion for farming, you can’t succeed in it. At least in Lagos, you have to love it to do it. Period! Most Saturdays, when most people relax or party, I wake early and drive more than 2.5 kilometers to the farm. Without passion, it’s hard to do this.
I notice that a lot of people talk about how much they love nature and farming. I usually don’t take them seriously until they put their passion to the test. It’s easy to talk. It’s much harder to do.
2. Get your hands dirty – the best way to learn is to do
Make no mistake about it, farming is a full contact endeavor. Of course, I don’t do the actual farming work myself, but supervising the labor is a difficult task in itself too. You can’t just stand aside and hope that things will go well. In my experience, things will never go well unless you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and get your hands (and feet) dirty.
But again, I’m an educated dude. I can’t be ignorant to the risks and carelessness of working in the open. I bought myself a pair of rugged rubber boots (to protect my feet), hand gloves and a straw hat to shield me from the sun. It also helps me to look the part. 🙂
3. Embrace modern farm practices and technology
Like I mentioned earlier, most of the food we eat in Lagos is grown by rural farmers and transported into the city from faraway places. Many of them still use old farming practices and crude tools. These are less productive, less efficient and unsafe.
I don’t have a tractor yet, and haven’t leased one quite frankly. But I have seen the power of using fertilizers, and modern pesticides and herbicides. These things really work and can save you time, money and stress. And a lot of them are cheap! A 50kg bag of NPK fertilizer costs about N5,500 ($25) and it’s just enough to get the job done on a hectare of land.
4. Think long term
If you’re thinking of making money overnight in farming, forget it. It’s not a get-rich-quick path to wealth. Not at all. To build wealth out of agriculture, you need to think long term, not short. You have to pay your dues and respect the learning curve.
The learning process may be painful, but it’s totally worth it in the end. And if you happen to love farming, the learning process will be an exciting adventure. And every lesson you learn will pay off in the long term.
5. Persevere and be consistent.
One of the most problematic aspects of farming are weeds. Just as you want your crops to grow, weeds want to grow too. They grow where they’re not wanted, they compete with your crops for sunlight, water, space and nutrients. Weeds are the most persevering thing I have ever known on earth.
And that’s exactly the approach we should take to life and business. Problems will always come up but you need to persevere and be consistent in the down times.
This point is important because many people come into farming with a lot of excitement and energy. But after a short while, all of it wears off. They give up and stop showing up. They abandon their farm to weeds and lose their crops. It’s sad but I see it happen every year.” – John-Paul Iwuoha
photo source: smallstarter