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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 must be... 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? AND 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. 1 . 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... 2 . 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! 3 . 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!” 4 . 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. 5 . 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 consultancy agreement... 6 . 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 competitors to yourself! 7 . 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! 8 . 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... 9 . 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. 1 0 . 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 Conclusion 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.   Please   also   read   the   best   article   I   have   encountered   so   far   on this subject specifically for dairy farming by Mr. Khalid Mahmood  on Farmerstrend . Getting   rich   in   agriculture   is   also   possible   but   only   through   some   kind   of   exploitation.   Either you   exploit   your   land,   or   you   exploit   available   natural   resources   like   forests,   wildlife   and water,   or   you   exploit   the   livestock   you   keep   or   worse   still   the   people   who   work   for   you.   Why must   it   be   that   either   the   farmer   or   his   labourers   are   the   lowest   paid   people   in   the   world? Nobody   could   survive   without   food   whereas   entertainment   &   most   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! The most important prayer of Christianity states: “Give us this day our daily bread”. Humanity   has   always   been   taught   that   food   is   a   God   given   commodity   or   better   still   a commodity provided for by God, WHO should be thanked for it (Thanksgiving and Grace). This    greatly    undermines    the    willingness    of    the    majority    of    the    population    to    pay    an appropriate amount of money to A THIRD PARTY (the farmer) for his involvement. 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!