Maximising your small farmland for profit.
Punch Newspaper has it that , a lot of people are into subsistence agriculture in Nigeria. Also, many farmers who farm on small parcels of land strive to attain high productivity, despite the size of their lands. A good number of people who practice subsistence farming also perform one or more activities other than farming on their lands. However, with the decreasing land sizes as a result of land subdivision and urbanisation, it is getting more difficult to survive on farming alone.
According to the National President, Nigerian Institute of Town Planning, Lekwa Ezutah, agricultural land is decreasing day by day in Nigeria as a result of uncontrolled land use across the country. Experts say this is one reason why smallholder farmers must strive to maximise their land in order to make profit from their farms.
To make profit, smallholder farmers should introduce farm planning as a tool for optimal and sustainable farm management. This tool helps farmers with small pieces of land to diversify their farming system and thereby increase their family income.
For a farmland that is about one or two acres, experts note that the farmer can diversify and maximise his land by rearing few cows, as well grow some arrow root crops on the land, but must endeavour to adequately demarcate the farm. The farmer can also plant beans, maize and various vegetables on his farmland, as a form of diversification for profit. By embarking on such mixed farming, the farmer diversifies his or her income and reduces the risk of failure through diversified risks.
To such a farmer, he will realise that his external food inputs will decrease considerably as most of all his inputs are from the farm. The farm will gradually become a self-sustaining system where the product, waste and by-product of either crops or the cows will serve as an input for the other. By so doing, the farmer is not only going to make profit from his venture, but will also maximise the limited piece of land which he farms on.
Ezutah tells our correspondent that the way buildings are erected across the country without proper planning has impacted negatively on the availableland for agricultural activities.
“That is an issue that needs to be addressed because we can’t feed ourselves by farming on small parcels of land. We should be able to limit the growth of our cities, so that we will still have enough land to cultivate our crops,” he says.
The NITP president adds, “In several other countries that take planning seriously, you have a limit beyond which the city cannot expand, so that you can have large expanse of land for farming. If we continue the way we are going, we will have only small portions of land for farming. Let’s take the issue of grazing land, part of the problem is because there is now a lot of pressure on the land and the available spaces have been reduced.”
He adds that land is a very big resource that is limited and cannot expand. “For instance if Nigeria is about 100 hectares from the onset, previously we could say we were occupying about 10 hectares, but now we might be occupying about 30 hectares. So there is a problem and it is one that really needs to be tackled.
“That is why I say we need to plan. If we plan and stick to our plans, this land matter won’t be such a troubling issue, because in planning we will take the land capability into consideration. And then we can now say this or that area should be reserved for agricultural activities. But when the political class does not appreciate the essence of planning, it becomes a problem.”
Meanwhile, in maximising your farmland for profit, experts say the benefits of farm planning cannot be overemphasised. They note that farm planning ensures better results and helps the farmer to be more focused on his or her work. The implementation of farm planning is, however, not easy from the beginning due to intensive labour requirement.
It is also important to note that at the end of every season, the farmer must evaluate his farm in order to plan for the next season. This includes deciding on what crops to rotate in the different plots that have been divided on the farm.
In addition to the farm planning skills, the farmer should understand how to prepare compost manure and how to apply it on the farm for improved yields.
A farmer who has these skills will no longer rely completely on external inputs and even chemical fertilisers for his or her farm. The results you will get from your farm will be amazing and you will maximise your profit by reducing costs and increasing productivity through diversification and application of best farm plan possible. Experts say this measure will allow the farmer to farm in an efficient, sustainable and environmentally- conscious manner.
For a farmer who has grown up kids, he may choose to engage his children in the farm. This transfers knowledge on the need for diversification, sustainable organic farming and optimal use of land. Your kids may enjoy being engaged in the farming activities on your farm and can benefit from it as some of their needs will be met by using the income earned from the farm.
The size of a farmland should not discourage a farmer, rather the farmer should seek ways to maximise the parcel of land for his benefit. Farming can help meet the domestic needs of the farmer and it is therefore important to spare some time and venture into farming, especially when one has some space in his residence or around where he resides or works.
Okechukwu Nnodim, Awka