23 Tips on How to Practice Subsistence Farming in Nigeria

Subsistence farming: Starting a farm is no easy task.  It involves many variables involving where you want to farm, how you want to farm, what you want to farm, and how big you want your farm to be.  There are many things to consider, and even though this is a how-to guide to get you started on starting a farm, the rest is up to you.

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Subsistence farming

1. Start off by drafting up a plan.

Have a business plan, an operational plan and a strategic down on paper before you buy or start a farm.

  • Note where you are, where you want to be, and how you want to get there. Additional personal and business goals and objectives, and financial and market goals and objectives are also important to note.
  • Reviewed and write down your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, (also called a SWOT analysis) of both yourself and the operation you want to get started in, as well as the farm you have in mind to purchase or start up from scratch.
    Read on: 5 Tips for Subsistence Farming: A Guide to Easy Living

2. Get the Background:

subsistence farming, form of farming in which nearly all of the crops or livestock raised are used to maintain the farmer and the farmer’s family, leaving little, if any, surplus for sale or trade. Preindustrial agricultural peoples throughout the world have traditionally practiced subsistence farming. Some of these peoples moved from site to site as they exhausted the soil at each location. As urban centres grew, agricultural production became more specialized and commercial farming developed, with farmers producing a sizable surplus of certain crops, which they traded for manufactured goods or sold for cash.

Subsistence farming persists today on a relatively wide scale in various areas of the world, including large parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Subsistence farms usually consist of no more than a few acres, and farm technology tends to be primitive and of low yield.

Subsistence farming

3. Make an extensive estimate of the cost of your farm.

You will need to figure the cost of the land, equipment, and necessary improvements that must be faced before beginning your farm operation. There isn’t a set price for land, or a fixed amount of land required to begin a farming operation, so you will need to look carefully at those prices in the location you have chosen. Equipment can be very expensive, but you may have an option to buy it with dealer financing or by purchasing used equipment.

See also: Top 10 Ways to Start Farming Business

4. Look at your financial situation before you get too far down the path you have chosen.

 Farming requires an investment each year to maintain operations. Some costs are up front, like buying or renting the land, buying equipment, and funds to sustain you until you have sold crops/livestock. Other costs that are going to be faced each year are:

  • Fuel and maintenance for equipment. You will most likely be buying diesel fuel for combines and tractors, hydraulic oil, engine oil, and other items to keep your machinery running.
  • Seeds and fertilizer are necessary to produce a crop, and you will need to invest in these every year you plant and harvest your crops.
  • Chemicals to protect your crops from insects, diseases, and invasive plants/weeds.
  • Utility bills. You will almost certainly use some electrical power for water pumps and for maintenance equipment like an air compressor and other power tools beyond what you will need for your living quarters and day to day life.

5. Plan on either working off the farm at a day job, or saving enough money to fund your cost of living until you begin to turn a profit on your farm.

Farming doesn’t pay you a weekly salary, your payday comes when you sell the product of your farm, and often that isn’t until the end of your growing season.

Subsistence farming

6. Get the Skills:

As an aspiring farmer, it’s important to work on your skill set for this particular profession. Not only can improving your farmer skills help you in future interviews, but it can also help you on the job. In this article, we explain what farmer skills are, provide examples, offer suggestions on how to improve them and list tips on how to highlight them in the job application and interview process.

7. What are farmer skills?

Farmer skills refer to the expertise, talents or abilities you have that help you perform a farmer’s daily duties. Key farmer skills include problem-solving, interpersonal, farm management and organizational skills. You can use these skills to use in a variety of ways, from communicating with farmhands to tending crops and repairing machinery. Having these skills can help you in the farming profession and help you stand out among other job applicants.

Read also: 9 Tip to Start Cocoyam farming

Examples of farmer skills

Farmers need a diverse set of skills in order to perform their jobs efficiently and successfully. Here are some examples of different skills you need as a farmer:

8. Problem-solving

As a trial-and-error profession, farming requires strong problem-solving skills. For example, a farmer often looks for the best ways to raise their harvest their crops. When unexpected weather occurs, it can cause harvesting delays. As a farmer, it’s important to know how to react and how to make effective decisions in this type of scenario. With strong problem-solving skills, you’re able to ensure a productive season no matter the unpredictable situations that arise.

Subsistence farming

9. Mechanical and repairing

Farmers need to maintain a wide variety of farming equipment and tools that help them perform their duties. Because this task comes at unpredictable times, it’s important to have general mechanical skills. Having the ability to make regular repairs to things like buildings and equipment prevents farmers from having to rely on a repair professional. This allows them to save money and the time they would’ve spent waiting for a repairman.

10. Interpersonal

As a farmer, you often lead farmhands through the completion of their duties. Having effective communication and compassion helps motivate them. Strong coaching abilities also help them complete their duties.

Interpersonal skills also help farmers effectively interact with buyers. For example, their interpersonal skills allow them to negotiate better rates for their animals. In addition, their interpersonal skills help them build a community that may provide them access to things like loaner equipment or supplies as needed.

Read also: Top 5 Goat Farming Business

11. Time management

Depending on the season, farmers may work from sunrise to sunset. If you take too much time off, you may miss out on a good harvesting opportunity. Good farmers need time management skills to operate efficiently and consistently in order to meet market demand.

12. Health and physical stamina

Farmers spend much of their day on-the-go, standing, lifting, hauling and pulling a variety of objects and machinery. Therefore, it’s imperative to have good physical stamina in order to endure extremely strenuous activities. You’re also required to perform these duties during a variety of weather conditions including intense heat and cold temperatures. These temperatures may make these tasks even harder to execute. Being healthy and having strong physical stamina makes it easier to complete these tasks efficiently.

Subsistence farming

13. Organizational

Both farmers and organic farmers need good organizational skills to keep accurate records of a variety of paperwork. Some of this paperwork includes invoices, warranties, labor contracts and payroll. As an organic farmer, it’s especially important to keep track of your certification paperwork. While you can always hire someone to take care of this paperwork, it’s important to have these abilities as part of your skill set—especially in your early years of farming.

14. Management

Even if you work on or own a small farm and have few people to supervise, it helps to have strong management skills. From managing farmhands to business associates, management skills allow you to interact and supervise various parties with greater success and efficiency.

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15. Adaptability

As a farmer, it’s important to remain flexible and adaptable when facing unexpected conditions or scenarios. Keep in mind that while what you learn in school may help you prepare for a career as a farmer, it’s not the same as a full, in-person farming experience.

It’s also important to remain adaptive when it comes to the business of farming. Your skill in this regard helps you adapt to the changing industry and changing consumer demands. Remaining adaptable ensures you know how to face these new obstacles by adopting new techniques or methods and predicting upcoming challenges.

Subsistence farming

16. Technology

While you don’t need to purchase every new technological device, it’s important to have a knowledge of new technological advancements as they relate to agriculture. For example, it’s important to know about new advancements regarding pesticide use, irrigation and ways to improve cultivation, harvest, storage and transportation.

17. Farm operations

While it may seem obvious, it’s important for farmers to have a strong understanding of the farming and agriculture industry at large. General farming skills allow them to perform their daily duties on the farm with ease. This can include duties like raising livestock or cultivating the land.

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How to improve farmer skills

Whether you want to learn new skills or improve your current ones, you have several different approaches you can take. Improving your skills can help you remain more competitive and prosperous in this field. Use these tips to help you improve your farmer skills:

18. Stay up-to-date with the industry

As a farmer, it helps to have professional knowledge about the farming industry. Improve your skills for this profession by staying up-to-date with everything from marketing techniques and field operations to production technology and machinery. Having this knowledge can help you plan for both your short- and long-term goals.

19. Improve your relationships

Strengthen your interpersonal skills by improving your relationships with your colleagues and others involved in the business. Doing so can aid your ability to communicate, resolve conflicts, negotiate, delegate and persuade. These skills can help you become a better farmer overall.

Subsistence farming

20. Build a community

Consider forming alliances with other farmers to expand your knowledge and skills. Understanding their common practices can help you improve your own. Consider learning from your own colleagues or indirect competitors. Discussing your trade openly can help you identify weak areas in terms of your skill set and even the farm’s operational processes.

Farmer skills in the workplace

As a farmer, you have many opportunities to show and even improve your skills on the job. Use these tips to improve your farmer skills in the workplace:

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21. Cultivate a teamwork atmosphere.

To improve your communication and interpersonal skills, aim to create a teamwork environment. Working alongside other farmers toward a common goal can help you not only improve your relationships and interactions with them, but also the success and profitability of the farm.

Subsistence farming

22. Keep practicing.

Learn how to improve your skills by continuously working at them. For example, if you want to improve your ability to make successful machinery repairs, continue performing similar repairs to get more accustomed to them and to perfect your craft. Simply learn by doing.

23. Be receptive to feedback.

 When working on a farm, other farmers may provide you with helpful advice and guidance. Accept any feedback they provide and use it to grow in your profession. Even if it’s negative feedback, work on being more receptive and using their advice to your advantage.

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