By Adeva Machiso Gwenzi
Every business requires constant skills development for it to continue to be competitive, farming included because farming is a business.
The Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union in an effort to make its members grow their farming businesses conducts different training courses that enhance farmers’ knowledge on agri-business related issues.
Recently the ZFU team conducted Farming As A Business FAAB trainings in Murehwa, Bindura and Zvimba.
Farmers of different age groups gathered together for a four-hour training course, some of the topics covered in the courses included; Understanding farming as business; Risk and risk management; Financial literacy and Basic marketing concepts.
During the training, it was emphasized that, sometimes the difference between a successful farmer and a struggling farmer is in their ability to separate themselves from the farming business, treating their personal lives and business as different or separate entities
“Murimi dzidza kupatsanura Hupenyu hwako nebhizimisi rako, Dura ne homwe ye bhizimuzi ngazvisiyane ne dura ne homwe yamuonodya pamba penyu,” said ZFU Capacity Building Manager, Mrs E.V Mandishona.
The trainings which were very interactive also saw farmers discuss the risks associated with agriculture and possible ways of managing them.
“As farmers we meet a lot of challenges in trying to grow our businesses but that does not mean that we give up, we have to find ways of mitigating the challenges and manage the risks, said” ZFU farmer from Murehwa, Mrs Mlambo.
One such risk in agri-business which seemed quite popular amongst the farmers is that of crop failure.
The farmers seemed to agree that crop failure is caused by different factors which include, low rainfall, climate change, choosing an inappropriate variety, poor planning, declining soil fertility amongst others.
In discussions on how to manage this risk, the need to always be in touch with the latest weather information was emphasized, other measures farmers could take as discussed include, knowing the seed variety that best suits their environment and practising good agronomic practices such as testing the soil PH.
The ZFU officers highlighted the importance of good marketing principles in boosting the farmers efforts to sell and make a profit.
In the teaching on marketing, it was highlighted that farmers had to develop good people skills, communicate well with customers so as to try and retain them and continue being relevant to their market.
Branding was another important aspect that was touched on. Farmers were encouraged that if they are to take farming as a business, they need to think of how to package their products in ways that attract customers.
“Do you know it is possible for you farmers to get into a shop and be attracted to buy your own produce not knowing it came from you but simply because it looked more pleasant on the eye,” said ZFU training officer, Bridget Masikati.