Agility and intuitiveness are the key ingredients that farmers should consider during the hard-hitting year of 2016 to ensure the sustainable growth of their agricultural businesses.
While the drought appears to have affected large parts of Namibia and in particular the north-west, this should certainly not discourage innovativeness within the agricultural sector but rather stimulate changes that are essential to performance enhancement of the overall sector.
It is commonly known that Namibia is the driest country south of the Sahara and such droughts are an integral part of our agricultural cycle. Many farmers have proven themselves over the years through their perseverance and tenacity to drought conditions, mainly through pre-planned business strategies.
2016 will be a tough year for the sector and as we take the necessary steps to mitigate the impact we should use the moment to eradicate inefficiencies in our practices and systems and find alternative routes to sustainability.
It is simply no longer possible to take a passive approach in agriculture. Each farmer needs to have a purpose for his or her farming business, whether commercial/communal or resettled. Agility is the only way to sustainability. Farmers need to implement practices that maximise the yield of their production.
The place to start is with the balance sheet. How much capacity have you used in accommodating current conditions and, therefore, how much is available for bringing into play alternative production options?
Should you plant different drought resistant crops, or simply reduce planting density because of very low soil moisture content, or plant late due to late rains? The same questions could be applied for livestock farmers, i.e. what’s your quality and quantity of your available grazing, should you cultivate your own grass instead, or change your production type? When you sell breeding stock, you erode the heart of your operations. Do not guess. The stakes are too high.
Do proper production economics calculations to find out exactly where your break even points are.Basing your decision on hard, verifiable facts could be the difference between losing or saving your farm operation.
• This article was compiled by Standard Bank’s Head of Agricultural Department Gerhard Mukuahima