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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.   10.  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!