Efficient farming depends on a sound Farm Management Plan
Compiled by Erastus Ngaruka, Technical Officer: Livestock, Agri Advisory Services Division at Agribank.
A farm management plan is a defined tool designed for the control of farm resources and situations to achieve the desired goal. The key words here are, resources, situations and goal.
The basic farm resources include; water, grazing, livestock, financial and human resources amongst others. The situations that commonly occur on farms are drought, veld fires, disease and pest outbreaks. The desired goal for the farm can be defined by either the production scale/level or an income level as targeted.
Planning is an important component in farm management as it enables an informed decision-making process. It allows timely responses and adjustments in the farm business based on realistic information or data from the farm, market, etc. This also helps the farmer to position the farm business in the industry, and to monitor and evaluate the progress on the farm.
This is where record keeping becomes essential. For example, production records should be used to review the progress and performance of an enterprise and its contribution to the whole farm business. This process identifies shortcomings and possible corrective measures.
Components of a Farm Management Plan:
The farm management plan should encompass four basic components; a production plan, marketing plan, financial plan, and labour plan. The plan is the broader guide in managing the entire farm’s business operations, and the supportive resources such as water and soil amongst others.
The production plan lays out specific production targets and assign specific scheduled activities or duties to be executed to achieve the set target for each farm enterprise.
For example, the measurable production attributes for farm enterprises would include, weaning and slaughter weight, number of eggs, crop yield, etc. The marketing plan helps identify potential and profitable markets, as well as the timing or the best times to market the products.
In order to have an efficient resource allocation to the various operations, the financial plan becomes very useful as it portrays the associated costs and incomes through budgeting. Further, the success of the farm business directly hinges on the labour output. On that, the labour plan is important to direct the implementation of farm operations, responsibilities, performance, and skills needs and development of the workforce.
Inherently, any farm operation faces risks that are associated with production, market, finance and labour amongst others. Therefore, risk management is integral to the implementation of the farm management plan. A risk plan is needed to identify and profile the risks; it’s likelihood to occur, the impacts, and the possible control measures.
In conclusion, an effective farm management plan is one that is practicable and adaptive to both internal and external forces that could influence the normal running of the farm business.