Skills training: What skills?

To run a successful farming project, there are a number of factors that need to come together. I will mention a few of these factors, and then zero in on one aspect that I think is important, but is being neglected by new and old farmers alike.

Inputs

It is clear that you need inputs. Day-old chicks, breeding stock, drugs and chemicals, vaccines etc.  For these you require money, and sources. Needless to say, the best sources are the established suppliers. New suppliers can also be good and cheap, but be careful. There are a lot of unethical players around. My advice: always buy from a trusted, known source. Buy from a new source after a recommendation from a trusted friend.

Information

In this digital age, information is becoming the most accessible of the factors of production. In fact, too accessible. There is Facebook, WhatsApp, the wide world web, Google etc. In fact, there is now a problem of evaluating which information source to trust. Because let’s be honest: some of the advice can be downright crap! But, how do you separate the grain from the chaff? Not easy. How do you know what relates to your context and what does not?

Markets

It’s self-evident that you will want to market your products. Perhaps you want to add value through packaging? Perhaps you want to explore alternative markets. Maybe you even want to export! You need information on the procedures, licences etc, and where to get that.

Skills

Finally, I arrive at what I wanted to talk about in depth. It is clear that information alone will not be enough. You will need skills. Castration, dehorning, sexing, recording, wound dressing, injecting drugs. Simple unspecialised routines, that you may not need an expert to do for you.

You need to look at getting yourself trained to do these things. If you do the maths, you will find that it is much more worthwhile to have you or your workers acquire these skills than hiring expensive experts each time you want some routine things done.

Capacity development is an investment, not a cost. If you are really serious about farming, as with any job, you need skills. What is needed is to do training needs assessment of your workers or yourself to see the gaps in knowledge, attitudes and skills. Then get yourself onto a good programme and get it done!

But what is clear is that there are not many general, non-formal training programmes for agricultural workers. The programmes that are there may be ones being run by breeders associations, specialised suppliers or formal colleges with certain entry requirements .

An alternative of course is to do an informal apprenticeship on a successful farmer. I don’t know how practical that can be, but that is a great way of acquiring skills.

How-ever way you choose to do it, skills acquisition is critical and is something that you need to consider alongside other investments in your project.

Happy farming.  As usual, you can follow for automatic updates!

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