Many enthusiastic agro-preneurs like we call ourselves lack basic skills and technical know-how on how to manage business most especially in the area of locating or finding markets for our produce. All we are after is to start a business and hopefully make money after 3-4months based on what we were told online. The major problem we are faced with is that, we do not look for market before planting, rather plant and afterwards start looking for who will buy, and in case of perishables, we end up selling at a rather low price and most of us don’t even make our capital not to talk of profits.
I tell people, before you venture into any form of agribusiness, do your market survey, look for price trends. There are some institutions or companies that collate these prices, you can ask for price trends of the commodities you intend to grow, this will be like a guide. From the trends, you can deduce when your produce will be most cheap and when it’s likely going to reach its highest price.
After getting these information’s, next is to find your buyers, remember, find your buyers before you go into any form of production. Do not produce and in your mind hope someone from somewhere will come and buy, you will end up selling below your cost price. When you find buyers make sure you reach an agreement preferably by contract on quantity and price because this is going to be binding and also make them take you seriously. If you have excess, you can now take it to the open market. I will share a personal story on how I thought I had the perfect business plan but failed to locate a market for my produce, read on.
I remember going online looking for blogs or websites where I can learn how to start any form of agriculture that will make me returns in 3-4months max. A little while later I ended up going for catfish rearing instead. I called up a friend who has been in the business for quite some time to put me through. We arranged a meeting, we did cost and estimation, he even introduced me to some of his colleagues who helped with the construction of my concrete ponds since my mini farm is located at the back of my house. I bought my stock, my feed and some boosters that I was encouraged to buy and that began my journey into becoming a catfish farmer.
At first, I found it quite engaging and fun, I go to the farm to look at how my fishes were swimming and gallivanting, I felt so proud of myself. Lo and behold, 4 months reached and I was ready to sell. I sat down and I asked myself, who am I selling to?
I couldn’t even answer myself but I remembered on one of the blogs, I read that fish farming have ready-made buyers like your bars, hotels and eateries. I began my walk into these places and I was told that they have customers who supplies them, I told them I have better price that might beat their suppliers’ price only to discover that they get supplied even at a lower price than what I was offering them.
I had to move on, back to thinking box…I called another friend who told me to go to Makoko, the women there buy fishes in large quantities. I went there, true to his words, the women only buy in large quantity but buy from 700mm below. We reached an agreement and they came to pack my fishes; these was after I have had the fishes stayed additional 3weeks than longer, meaning spending on feed. After disposing of my little sized fishes, I had the table sizes left which I literally begged people to buy because I was spending on feed. By the time I sold all the stock, I didn’t come close to making my capital talk less of profits. I learnt my lesson the hard way which I made sure didn’t happen when I took my second stock.
HOW AND WHERE TO SELL
They sell these grains at relatively high price; in some cases, the merchants usually dictate the market prices of these commodities because they can supply in large quantities. Most of these merchants are found in Northern states, they send out representatives during harvest to buy off farmers produce, they store and sell when the commodities are most scarce.
Leaves can be dried and packaged into different fancy bags, tomatoes can be dried, frozen, made into paste or in some cases skin removed and canned, cassava can be dried into chips or made into garri to increase shelf life. There are different ways of processing agricultural produce in order to increase their shelf lives. Just make sure you do your research first before venturing into any form of production.
Marketing is an important part of business that shouldn’t be taken for granted, most new entry farmers are only concerned about the farming itself and not how to sell their produce. Their main purpose of going into farming is for profits making yet they fail to take the money-making part seriously.
According to Michael Hyatt he said “Marketing is really just about sharing your passion”, so if you don’t share your passion or love for something, how will people know you have passion in the first place, same for marketing, show and tell people what you sell or produce.