The unpredictable increase in prices of farm inputs is a cause for worry for all actors in the agriculture sector of Ghana. The high cost of fertilizer, agrochemicals and mechanization services coupled with increase in the cost of farm labor is causing sleepless nights for farmers. However, there is 5 ways to reduce cost of production on your farm for farmers to cut their production expenses without having an effect on their crop yields whiles maximize profit in their production. Below are some of the best ways to reduce your crop budget without it affecting your yields.
- Proper seed selection
Most often when farmers ask me what seed they should use, I ask them these questions, what is your target market? Where are you selling your products, is it the preference of your target market? Is there a variety of your chosen crop more expensive than the others? How do various varieties of your chosen crop preform in your location? Do you have the investment amount require to product your chosen crop all these and many more is what you need to consider before you select your seed for cultivation.
Remember the aim is to reduce cost of production a much as possible whiles getting higher yields for sale so you can get a healthy return on your investment. If there is a mismatch in the cost of production and the availability of market for your produce, you will lose your investment. Currently the price of Yellow corn is higher that White corn, all through cost of production is the same. A kilo of Red sweet pepper is more than twice the price of Green bell pepper, through the cost of production is the same since all other colors of Bell pepper starts as Green, you have to consider the additional time it will take before harvesting and factor it into your production plan.
2. Purchase your input on time and in bulk
Before you decide to start a farm or venture into agriculture, you may have had an idea of the financial commitment you will have to put into your farm. After narrowing down on the crop(s) you will be producing and selecting the right seed/varieties, you should have had a fair idea your cost of production and cost components. This is where purchasing your inputs in bulk and on time comes in, if 2021 was any indication procuring your input on time in bulk will save you a lot of stress, time, and money since as the season progress prices of inputs keeps increasing and availability also reduces.
In April 2021, a litter of Glyphosate based products was GHS17 to GHS19 whiles a box (12L) cost GHS190 to GHS210 depending on your location and brand, however in July 2021, the same product has been sold at GHS25 for a litter whiles a box when for GHS280 these prices even increased further to GHS32 and GHS360 in October 2021, this was not unique to various Glyphosates but all farm inputs from agrochemicals, fertilizers to small farm tools. 50Kg bag of NPK fertilizer retailing at GHS140 in May 2021, was retailing for GHS250 in December the same year. As the saying goes “the early bird catches the fly” so does a farmer who purchase their farm inputs on time gets the best deal and saves money. If a box (12bottles) of Glyphosate is GHS480, you save money by buying the whole box than to buy a bottle at GHS45 at retail. Maybe you may not need a whole box of Glyphosate, how about buying and splitting a box with farmers in your network.
3. Don’t buy your inputs base on brand but on the active ingredients and efficacy
I am sometimes amaze when a farmer gets so “addicted” to a brand or one product, although this attachment stems from valid reasons like the farmers experience using the product, the availability of the product or the effectiveness of the product. However you forming such huge bond with a product is not the best, this is because as using one particular product (especially weedicides, pesticides, herbicides) over a long period of time build up resistance to that particular product on your farm, also since most of these “popular product” is in high demand it may be a bit pricy this couple with the fact that over the years there are researches and new products which are more effective than previous products are been introduced into the market so sticking with one product for years is a disadvantage to you the farmer. With prices of farming inputs over the roof, its time to start purchasing your inputs base on the active ingredients and efficacy and sometimes the next crop to be planted on the farm if practicing crop rotation.
Let say you need a herbicide for rice (aka rice selective) for your farm, your local input dealer have 3 products all packaged 250ml, we will call them A, B and C. Product A is GHS50, Product B is GHS55 whilst Product C is GHS70, all these three different product has the same active ingredient and efficacy – Bispyribac Sodium 400g/L SC, in this case the best one to buy is Product A since it preform the same all the other products but cheaper than the other product, however if there is a product D with its active ingredients been Bispyribac- Sodium 400g/L SC and 2.4D Amine Salt 720SL at cost of GHS80 then you will want to consider buying Product D is you have broad leaves weeds on your farm but if you don’t have broad leaves weeds then you stick to Product A.
4. Proper land and Farm management
Proper farm /land management practice has been highly under rated by most farmers, you can buy the best seed, purchase the best fertilizer, and crop protection products but if the farm which holds the plants is not well manage, you may not get enough yields to breakeven let alone make profit. When a farm complains of low yields on their farms despite doing “everything” right, the first question I ask them is “what your farm management practices, before production and after harvesting? As a farmer, you can’t leave your land bear with no cover crop exposing it to the sun after harvesting or burn the farm every year killing all micro-organisms in the soil then complain about low yields. With the effect of climate change affecting yield tremendously its time farmers take conscious efforts to adopt climate smart practices to stay in business. Effective land management is what differential between a profitable farm and a struggling farm.
After taking care of your farm production before and after harvesting, there is the need for proper farm management during production, adopt proper land preparation methods- ploughing and harrowing, ripping, retrovation, ridge or mold making or no- tile method etc adopt practices that works well for your location and crops to be cultivated. Ensure you have the proper Plant population for your land size, effective weed, and pest control, capitalizing on conservation efforts like no-tilling reduce weed growth and amount spent on herbicides, crop rotation just a few will have positive effects on your yields and income from your farm.
5. Agriculture Insurance Coverage
I know for some this is the first time of hearing Crop Insurance Coverage, also those who have may had have bad experience or heard of other farmers bad experience from various agriculture insurance companies. However, with the effects of climate change and the many uncertainties that comes with crop production, an agriculture insurance coverage will cushion you from some of these uncertainties. For our outgrowers, we always ensure we purchase an insurance coverage to protect our investment, this has been every instrumental in the success of our outgrower scheme.
If you are going to invest thousands of Cedis on your farm, then its best to get insurance coverage for the farm to protect your investment. I will personally recommend the Ghana Agriculture Insurance Pool (GAIP) to you, we have been buying our insurance coverage from them for 3years now and have not been disappointed by them yet. Check them out and make the smart decision for your investment, remembers farming is hard and you don’t want to make it harder than it is.
Wishing you the best in your farming journey.