10 Tips for doing it better than us
The first impression every visitor to our
Website and Makitosha Farm gets is how
big & beautiful everything looks and what a
highly profitable farming enterprise we
In fact quite a number of recent visitors
told me of their plans to leave their highly
paid & lucrative big town office jobs to
retire to a country life of wealth!
I hate to talk or having to think about money. But to help you make a more informed decision
before you dive in head first into our kind of farming adventure I have compiled this page to
show you where & how you could make better and wiser choices than us. Heeding these
pitfalls will probably allow you to make a decent living from farming. I nevertheless still
believe (unless you want to venture into American style “factory-farming”) it is extremely
difficult to get really rich in agriculture.
Hyenas, vultures and other beings feed on the dead and dying. Forming a Partnership for our
farming activities has spared us this fate as it allows us to officially declare profits where
none exist. Most of above can be kept at bay by the superficial looks of health & well-being.
But this is just masking the fact that the greatest part of the year we really struggle to get
all our bills paid and keep some few tiny scraps to share amongst us participants.
How is it possible that such a nice looking farm doesn’t generate huge profits?
Then WHO really does benefit from our farming activities?
As unlikely as this may sound, answers to both above questions are exactly the same. There
are always two sides to a coin and somebody’s loss in most instances is someone else’s profit.
Making everybody happy is a luxury: Although nobody here is receiving a salary all of
us live better lives, earn more money and are more independent than we used to be when
still farming under the conventional system. Only drawback is that through our system no
real money is left over for the owner or to repay bank loans or mortgages...
Your Products and their marketing are most important: Before you even consider
producing anything know where and at which price you will be able to sell it. All your
focus should be on your products as they will be your major lifeline throughout your
farming career. An attentive reader of our web-book will have looked for a “products”
page in vain. In fact all our main interest and attention goes to breeding, research,
advising and bringing joy to all our many visitors. Although being the largest last surviving
commercial dairy farm in Malindi having to sell our milk is mostly considered a necessary
evil... Gallons of unsold milk and almost the entire crop of Mangoes & Cashew nuts is
consumed or otherwise utilized by us, our huge families and our many neighbours. What a
financially disastrous attitude!
Specialize in some few lucrative activities: What makes Makitosha Farm so unique and
interesting is its great variety of animals and diversity of activities. What looks so
desirable and is greatly enjoyed by all our visitors is in fact the surest way to financial
ruin. A very successful wheat farmer once said: “Being a jack of all trades makes you a
master of none!”
Avoid being at the bottom end of the food chain: An advice any rabbit or gazelle will
give you for free. If at all you decide to venture into primary food production you will do
much better if you do some processing or value addition of your product as otherwise you
will be at the total mercy of unscrupulous middlemen or processors.
Giving free advice won’t make you any money: What we greatly enjoy doing without
ever getting a penny in reward would be much more lucratively used when given under a
Keep secrets of trade to yourself: We readily share anything useful we have
discovered with our visitors and anybody else interested. Whereas any real businessman
will tell you to keep those things that will give you a competitive advantage over your
fellow farmers to yourself!
Free entry to all visitors is costly to you: Most of the really interesting farms in
Kenya either charge an entry fee or totally restrict any visitors whereas all our visitors
are welcomed for free. Not only does every visitor carry the risk of introducing
dangerous pathogens to your premises (as Foot & Mouth Disease Virus, etc.) but many,
especially large families and schools, leave behind mountains of refuse as plastic lunch
packing materials that pose a grave danger to your livestock. School buses have totally
flattened our main gate and left without contributing a cent to repairing the damage
they caused. And whoever will function as our visitor’s tour guide will do so in his own
spare time uncompensated and then have to take care of his own official duties later on!
Control your maintenance expenses: Cleaning up, maintenance and renovation costs are
like throwing money into a bottomless well. You can actually spend all your money doing
just these activities and never ever finish... What distinguishes Makitosha Farm from
many more lucrative farms is the absence of the total mess so commonly encountered
including buildings and machinery in dire need of repair. You choose: Would you rather
look at a nice and tidy farm or a purse full of money? Ask our visitors for their opinion...
How much animal welfare can you afford? As a commercial livestock farmer you have
to carefully balance the joy of keeping your livestock healthy and happy against the
economic viability of doing so. Putting animal welfare over your own welfare will see you
into negative figures in an instant. Achieving cow and calf mortality rates of 0% costs us
much more dearly than accepting the occasional fatality would. Dairy farmers also have to
choose between raising their bull calves at a huge loss to them or not raising them at all.
Leave research and innovation to the professionals: There are institutions like ILRI,
KARI, Universities and many others whose sole purpose of existence is teaching and
research. They are heavily funded by the government and international community and do
not have to be self-sufficient. Nothing will burn your money faster than trying to invent
new methods, introduce new breeds or ground-breaking new technologies and new
products into an environment that is not ready for them. It is so much wiser and cheaper
to stick to what people know and are used to and what has proven its worth over time.
Below only a fraction of all the things that have cost us millions with few having reached
the “being successful” stage:
Biogas: Over 20 years ago we attempted to build what then would have been the largest
biogas-plant in Kenya. At that time only a couple of small units existed which all had been
build with aid funds, materials & expertise from abroad. We used our own money, locally
available materials and craftsmen from the neighbourhood, who had never build anything
alike in their lives. It ended with a total failure & loss as we could never manage the get
the concrete domes to become gas proof, being one among many major functional faults
Silage making: Having tried most of the methods used abroad and many others described
in books and not really succeeding and then experimenting with many different self
invented systems we have gone through mountains of money and hundreds of tons of
rotten silage. Finally (after 25 years!) we have found a system that truly works. You are
welcome to take the short-cut yourself: Silage Pit Designs
It also took us 25 years, experimenting with over 10 different breeds of cattle and going
through thousands of straws of semen to find the one breed that will really make all the
difference and be a great benefit to all of Kenya: Gir and MAGIC
Being in the dire financial situation that we are in, is our nemesis. Nevertheless farming
should only be done by those who truly like this line of work and not by those who aspire to
make money quick and easy. Nobody in the world could survive without food whereas
entertainment & other activities are non-essential for anybody’s survival. But compare a
person working in agriculture’s pay to incomes of actors, soccer players, politicians and else!
Unlike presently customary those who choose farming over all better options deserve to be
greatly rewarded for their efforts & awarded accordingly by humanity and then would surely
no longer be regarded as practising the lowliest of all professions!
Wide eyed and fully aware of our shortcomings we steadily move forward to impending doom.
We surely must be incredibly stupid? Or are we just simply dream-walking?
We love Makitosha Farm for the Utopia it is & wouldn’t want to change a thing for all the
world’s riches (I might possibly be speaking only for myself here...). We consider ourselves as
extremely privileged and lucky to be allowed to live this experience and share it with you!