Dummies Guide To Becoming a Successful Farmer


We get a lot of emails and calls from first-time farmers , professionals in mid life crisis about starting a farm and whether it would be remunerative career .Here is a ‘Dummies Guide to Being a Successful Farmer’ - a multi part series of email-articles  , which will help even a novice farmer to taking the first plunge , and a existing practitioner to get more ‘market savvy’.

The term ‘dummies’ guide is not to be taken in offensive tone, but is inspired by a very well known series of books which address the basics of any new subject area - from introducing a new hi-tech concept  to being successful in bed :wink: .

In the first part,  lets clear off some doubts , lesser known facts and popular myths about agri business and the big Q - 'Is there MONEY in it ’  :

Doubt #1 : Why is agriculture lagging behind when all other industries are progressing ?

Simple - because all the educated, smart and healthy workforce from villages have moved to cities. Just like how all the urban bred graduates prefer to go abroad and settle down in foreign nations, so too is the young from rural India thronging cities in search of more ‘comfortable’ lifestyle. the brain drain and brawn drain is now extending to villages too. Result is that most villages you wont find ANY youth now.

Average age of any IT/Software company is approx 25 , whereas for agriculture is is 55 !! Do you expect your dads and grand parents  to be ‘entrepreneurial and eager to learn new tricks ?’ Wake up - in a few years , there will be no more farmers !

Doubt #2 : I don’t know anything about farming . How will I be successful  ?

Answer : Mr. Ratan TATA is not a car mechanic but built world’s most economical car ! Mr. Azim Premji is NOT a software programmer but that did not stop him from starting a software firm .Just like in a successful movie , you need actors , directors, camera men and thousands of people to make the drama come alive - in any business you need a variety of role players to work together . Unfortunately, in agriculture , the popular MYTH has persisted that  farmer is like a Super HERO who should do everything . In any business , it involves multiple skills from various people to be successful - often people who may not even be related to the business !

The agri industry is over 1000s of years old. NO one can claim to know everything about it !  Secondly, we are dealing with a product of nature which NO HUMAN can ever fully fathom. It is a very humbling and exhilarating way to admit what little we know of something we all take for granted.

As long as you are open to learn , and hard working - you can choose any path of your will.

Doubt #3 : But there are so many risks in agriculture - Monsoon, Corruption, Middlemen , Thugs , Insects , Labour  … how can i overcome them ?

Well risks and uncertainties are there is ANY industry . Banking collapse , scandals in investment banks , scams in telecom , real estate crash, airlines in mid-air debt , and entire European nations going down under … can you name ONE industry which is devoid of risk and is running very stable ? Strangely, ALL these professional industries had been run by the smartest brains on this planet … but agriculture ,  is typically run by high school drop outs  ! Thank god - we still have food in our plates ! Just imagine if the IIT/IIM guys had been running our farms :wink:

Risks are meant to be planned for , Uncertainties with contingencies - in any business ,you always have a Plan B & a Plan C,D,E …

Doubt #4 : The govt. , scientists, NGOs have done so much . How come the crisis is only deepening ?

Firstly , government shouldn’t be running any business . Was the rise of the software industry due to the efforts of the IT ministry ? Do professors in aerospace department  fly airlines ?
Agriculture industry has strangely not recognized importance of entrepreneurs (outside of agri departments and universities) as key drivers of changes. Innovation doesn’t often happen in a bureaucrats office or even in a college lab !

Doubt #5 :How can you say there is an opportunity when everything is on crisis ?

When everyone sees fire in a building and running out , don’t you see ‘fire-fighters’ running IN ? When people run away from war zones , don’t you see jawans and top-gun pilots rushing towards it ?
One man’s crisis , is another man’s Purpose in Life ! But this not a case of being ‘macho’ and being a fool rushing in where angels fear to tread … A conscious , planned activity is always rewarded with results.

Doubt #6 : Do i have to be at the farm all day / full time ?. Can i just find some farmer family and let them run it for me ?

Assuming you cannot goto an office meeting -  Can you just have your car driver go and sit in the conference call for you ?
Assuming you own the largest restaurant in town , will you just ‘check on the sales and progress’ just once a year with the cook?
Remote control doesn’t help any business. Though farming doesn’t actually require day-to-day presence , it is important to keep close tabs and involvement . In case you are in-between careers, and need some time to switch over, do plan for a gradual transition .

Doubt #7 :But is there money in agriculture  ?

Did you know that one of the key reasons why our farmers dont make money is THEIR OWN inadequacies and poor marketing skills ? I know this will raise a hornets nest and spams from every self respecting NGO and agri dept. official - but lets stop blaming government , rain gods & Monsanto to cover up our own dirty backs … now answer me this :
Most Indian farmers do not use a weighing machine to WEIGH their goods . They expect the middlemen to have so and do the weighing
Now ask yourself - if you run a shop, will you expect to have the ‘buyer’ to carry a weighing machine and tell you the weight ?
Most farmers never calculate their costs of production or operations and always go by 'middlemen or government ’ price ?
Ask yourself - If you apply for a job in a company, Will you let the commerce minister negotiate your salary package ?
Most farmers never grade their produce and use crude grades and measures making it difficult for end buyers to deal directly with them
Ask yourself - do you buy petrol by ‘hand fulls’, cafe latte in ‘gunny bags’ ?
Most farmers have no clue of end buyer needs or market demands and keep growing what they already know rather than what customer wants
Would you goto a computer shop today and buy a MAINFRAME , when everyone else is dabbling in Android and iPad ?
Other than money , you should also ask - do you ENJOY being at a farm ? Do you LOVE being around plants and animals ? Farming and related activities can not only be sustainable but if done smartly, can make MORE than what you are earning today .
Lets work towards a d ‘Happy Independence from Hunger and Food Crisis day’  …
(to be continued)
Yours Farmingly :

Md, efarm
venky at efarm dot in

Hi Venkat,
Well noted, Unless a person think that agriculture is mother of all jobs, no one can survive with casual efforts to earn bread.
First of all one should closely understand the nature and its powers to create one,s own kingdom in agriculture.
Then know 4 stages of life for any one
Stage-2 Middlemen.
Stage-3 Retailer.
Stage-4 Consumer. 
An Agriculturist should cross stage 3 to taste the better returns for his product.

Stage 1-Creater i.e. Farmer:- Normally all farmers thinks that their work ends at their field and marketing belongs to businessmen, therefore they are backing behind for getting profits.Stage-2 Middle Men- These people invest their money and mind for 24 to 48 hours and will get about 10 to 20% profit for their investment and they do not know all problems facing by a Farmer and hence their returns and profits are sure.
Stage-3 Retailer- These retailers are the final profit gainers with good returns even after certain waste of produce.

Stage-4 Consumers- These are the sufferers who are making more comforts to those who are at Stage 2 &3 by paying what ever they(2&3) fixes.

In order to survive and to get success, Farmers should not restrict only to grow and sell at  2nd stage. But take responsibility to cross even 3d stage and catch the consumer directly for mutual benefiting by both Farmer and consumer. Manufacturers are winning through their own marketing strategies. Unless and until a farmers becoming businessmen, they cannot survive in the market gamble.

So be ready to have knowledge at all stages for getting success otherwise farmers life can become miserable.

Very Well Written… :slight_smile:

Excellent Article. Great Motivator

Inspired … Good Article…

Dear Sir,

Excellent source of information… highly motivating

Raja Ganesh. M

Thanks for the feedback . If you are interested to learn more about various agri business oppurtunities , how to setup and run an agri/food based business do check out our 2-day weekend workshop programs. We conduct them every month , and the next session is on September 1st & 2nd . For details & registration : www.efarm.in/training

Yours Farmingly :

Md, efarm

917 607 2449 | 784 5827 100
11 Loganathan colony, Mylapore, Chennai 600004

Hi Venkat,

Thanks for the dummies, very good.

I have the same though and that is why I am already a farmer now. Visit my farm website rameshwari.com/ to read and get my experience.

Despite people around have started calling me crazy, I feel happy when they say crazy to me as I know what I am doing and why I am doing.

Good luck to you and all.

Dear Sir
Today dummy tomorrow demi/semi  day after tomorrow REAL.
Experience,enthusiasm courage  failure and success continuous efforts
makes perfect.
Emmen upadhyaya.

Excellent Article, Very inspiring

Very good and inspiring article.

Experts please guide me.
I am a businessman and wants to do farming in coming 5-6 years. Please suggest what should I do to get knowledge and practical experience in these years till I am ready to start my own farm.

since I am involved in my own family business and dong well in that, but I love nature , plants animals and all. So I want to involve in farming business.  I am planning and working in my current business in such a  way that I can free my self in 5-6 years to switch over.

Please guide me how should i prepare my self for doing farming business in coming years.


What an excellent post. This thread is like knowledge river for me. Gives me more confidence to get into farming sooner.

Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge.

No latest updates? kindly update your experiences…