Want to Be an Agripreneur? Read This First — 5 Modern Farmer Myths Debunked

· @MwihakiMithamo ·

Modern farming in East Africa has been overly romanticized. Writers (me included) are guilty of creating the impression that it’s easy and rewarding.

The writers are not wrong, but perhaps they forget to tell you that agripreneurship requires you to put the stilettos, trendy chinos, and other fashion items aside.

They also failed to tell you that regardless of whether you have farmhands or not, there are times when you’ll be required to get your hands dirty (gardening gloves won’t be of much use) and break a sweat, both physically and mentally.

It’s high time someone took on the modern-farmer fairy tale. Here are five myths debunked:

1. Modern farming is stylish.

Farming writers have, by ignorance or design, failed to tell you that you’ll have to ditch your favorite perfume for sunscreen and your stylish fedora for a big hat to shield you from the sun, the wind, and the rain.

They’ve also forgotten to mention that when you choose to be a farmer, overalls, dust coats, and boots will become your preferred apparel.

Writers have also failed to remind you that unlike the office job you had previously, most of your friends and family will not respect your work as a farmer —  they might even consider you jobless or pursuing a dirty “activity”,  meant for the poor.

Many times, you will not smell as sweet as you would like to, and despite using deodorant, the smell of manure and other farm produce will probably stick to your clothes. Your moment of reprieve will only come when you shower late in the day after you have completed your farming chores.

When you meet with your friends and relatives from the city, you’ll realize they have an “air” around them that makes you want to go back to your old life. If you are not properly grounded, you might feel like a lesser person compared with them.

2. Modern farming is prestigious.

Writers have also failed to remind you that unlike the office job you had previously, most of your friends and family will not respect your work as a farmer —  they might even consider you jobless or pursuing a dirty “activity”,  meant for the poor.

The blatant truth is that you might lose some prestige when you choose to be a farmer instead of working jobs that require you to wear a power suit, drive a sleek car, and attend glamorous career events.

Instead of the latest roadster, you’ll prefer hardy four-wheel drive vehicles, trucks, or even tractors because they can withstand farm conditions.

3. Modern farming is easy.

The media highlights farming success stories. The struggles, the sweat, and the tears are rarely documented. News articles do not, for example, tell you that swine flu can wipe out your herd of pigs in less than a week or that you will have to sacrifice some sleep when your pigs are farrowing (farmer lingo for giving birth) just to ensure that the sow does not savage all its piglets.

They won’t tell you that your potato crop can succumb to diseases, hence drowning your entire investment. They won’t even tell you that your herd of dairy cattle can die from diseases such as East Coast fever.

Stories on farming will rarely teach you how supply and demand affects the market for your farm produce because naturally, the writers expect you to have researched the market trends well before investing in a particular farming activity.

Sometimes, modern-day writers will let you know that farming is not for the faint-hearted, but they cannot fully prepare you for all the eventualities that will threaten your farming venture.

4. Anyone can be a farmer.

Farming writers ignore (or are unaware of) the possibility that you may not be passionate about farming; they assume that the allure of good money will inspire you to take up farming and excel. But they are often wrong.

People who try modern farming for money-related reasons rarely make it big: They give up as soon as the first setback arises. They realize fast enough that the promised riches do not come as quickly and easily as they had imagined.

5. Modern farming is all about plants.

If you are just starting out, you’ll realize that you need to juggle between organizing your workers, planning the farming activities, and marketing your produce.

In other words, you’ll be the administrator, accountant, marketer, and the human resources representative.

No writer prepared you for this, and in school you probably learned that successful people specialize in one activity. In farming, however, you just have to man/woman up and handle all the responsibilities the best way you can.

I’ve given it to you straight. If agripreneurship still calls, then go for it! Here’s a story to get you started.

Tell us what you think in the comments!