Practical aspects of farming particularly relevant for beginners

Please read fully and carefully:

I see lot of people trying to jump into farming with little hind sight and background. Farming is great IF AND ONLY IF its managed as below:

  • personally staying at the farm most of the times
  • to make the above possible, it should be reachable from your current residence in a a decent amount of time
  • regularly visit as and when required
  1. Time given to farming

If not more than 50%, don’t read further because success starts building up once this is reached.

Unlike any other profession, its not easy to get things done without much help from family and friends. If somebody is staying close to the farm too, it would be hard for them to give their time towards your farm unless somebody is willing to do things almost full-time. If you assume once sowing / planting is done you can relax, please … There are numerous things that need attention when sowing is done. Of course there are numerous fully automated farms thriving but far from our reality. Something that needs to be a success or close, needs YOUR time.

  1. Experience

Love or passion is a first time thing. But perseverance is a different thing. LOVE at first sight is what happens with this beautiful profession where 95% of people have burnt themselves. So be careful to learn, volunteer, experiment and experience. Otherwise you will just be another burnt body. Unless there’s a free guiding hand, its impossible to be getting on the side of success. And even then, please consider the other points.

  1. Expenses

If you have planned meticulously, it would be 50% extra that would be needed in most cases. I have been into this for 3+ years. So if you are into this full-time, please have a corpus that you need to use for at least 2 years. Because crops are in the grip of: weather, water, labor and lastly ‘luck’. Once you have a bumper crop, you should be able to sell it at a decent price. There are layers and layers of people who are in between producer/farmer and consumer. If you find a decent middleman, you can barely survive for 1-2 years. If you plan to quit a good paying job and get into this, 3 years expenses should stay in your account along with the farm expenses. Include family and emergency expenses from all angles once. Otherwise farm will be ready for sowing or any later stage but your account will be empty. So PLEASE have one or two secondary sources of income before even thinking, not ‘jumping’. Farm maintenance is a different ball-game. Your expenses need to be controlled and also kept in a state to give you decent produce. Once you plan to cut down labour expenses, the maintenance has to be done with machines whose cost needs to be included in the expenses. Always approach the local agricultural department directly to avail subsidies. Same goes with drip irrigation subsidies. Learn installation of the drip irrigation equipment so that later maintenance can be done by yourself. Depending on somebody to do some jobs will un-necessarily delay things and progress, especially if you are dependent on rains or other factors. Always assume there’s going to be shortage of water next year and plan accordingly.  Why i say this: I have seen too many people burning themselves and using water recklessly and going broke the following year due to water shortage or complete lack of water availability. True for most places this year looking at the scanty rainfall this year. ALWAYS remember : One year’s bumper crop can never be guaranteed the next year ! Too many factors involved: labour, expenses, time and interest. Indian agriculture has VERY bad trend in this matter. One year bumper crop, next year no crop is the usual trend. Talk to as many farmers as possible.

  1. Labor

I am putting this close to the end because this is the MOST problematic practically. Humans are born lazy. If you trust somebody works in your farm the way you expected, please relax. Assume the figure to be close to 25%. This might be shocking to most, but please relax. The best compensated labor works 25% for your farm and the rest towards their livelihood. Doing other chores that bring them money from multiple sources if you are NOT present in the farm full-time. If the labor was soo sincere our country would be beating israel in agriculture. This goes wrong ONLY in single digit percentage of cases. If you are present at the farm most of the times or at least stay within 30 minutes to your farm, this can get little better. But sincerity is doubtful in ‘most’ cases. If you are maintaining a dairy farm with many animals, please make sure you check the books of the dairy once in a month since there could be large scale pilferage in maintaining books. But dairy with HF or even other cows is a different subject and needs a separate thread!

  1. Going organic

Understand the terms between organic, chemical farming and ZBNF properly and study a few farmer’s practices before deciding what to get into. But like any other business, what you put is what you get both in terms of manure, time and money.

  1. Machineries

Depending on labour to do trivial things is a recurring expense. Most things these days can be accomplished with machines. Tillers and rotavators for example can do the job of labour and save you the costs of labour tremendously. Labour holding you to ransom will be completely avoided too. Please learn how to operate these machinery without labour’s help. 4-6 acres of plantation would ideally need a tiller/cultivator/rotavator. More than that a mini-tractor would be ideal. Try govt subsidy to avail of these and take a govt bank loan.

This is NOT for weekend farmers who intend to get into farming to spend little time and fancy money but for serious people who tend to think through before making a decision!

1 Like

Thank you vinayjan for a well written note on this very important subject. Lot of folks have left paying jobs to get into agri and have burnt their hands and not many failure stories are present for people to either understand the issues or create better plans for themselves. More people need to come forward and share both success and not so successful experiences so that newbie’s can make a informed decision.