You’re ready to fulfill your dream of farming the land. So it’s time to look for a farm. But how? And where do you start? Farmer Mbali Nwoko says the best is to buy land once you’ve gained experience and built up a steady cash flow. She adds that even if you have enough capital to purchase a farm, it often makes sense to get started by leasing land, especially if you’re just entering the industry.
A good way of finding a farm – and here I speak from experience because this is something I’ve done in the past – is driving around the neighbourhood or the community I have set my sights on and then getting out of the car and actively looking for opportunities to talk to farmers and farmworkers in the area.
These are absolutely the best people to tell you which farms are going up for sale and which farm owners are looking to lease their property.
This is a wonderful way to approach the goal of finding a farm because you get to speak to the owner of the farm or property directly and build a relationship. This way, if your plan is to rent or lease the farm, you can negotiate with the farmer directly in terms of what rates you can pay on a monthly basis.
If you want to buy the farm, you can also negotiate in this way.
Engaging face-to-face, not through an in-betweener or over WhatsApp or email, really is the best way of making a meaningful human connection.
I am a firm believer in getting to know the community and the environment in which you hope to farm and really taking the time to determine if this is a space that you want to be in and if this farm would fit into your business objectives. Farming is all about community, so the sooner you get to know the people you’ll be working in and amongst, the better support system you’ll build.
I think the best way to start is always to make the time to drive around different farming communities, to check out the different farms and really seeing if this is the right space for you. Plus you get the chance to take in some of the sights and sounds of this magnificent country.
In deciding whether to buy or lease the land, you first need to consider your budget.
It’s usually best to buy land once you’ve gained experience and built up a steady cash flow.
While ownership gives you more control of how the land is used, it also comes with a serious financial commitment. Even if you do have enough capital to purchase a farm, it often makes sense to get started by leasing land, especially if you’re just entering the industry.
It’s usually best to buy land once you’ve gained experience and built up a steady cash flow. Many also choose to go that route when first starting out as you lay out less money and expose yourself to less financial risk. You’ll also be better able to decide how much land you’ll need once you’re certain of what crops you’ll grow.
And remember that community we spoke of before? Teamwork is part and parcel of farming, so all of those early relationships you build with neighbours and farmers and farmworkers will be of huge value as you go through your farming journey and you begin to make decisions about crops and methods – it’s an invaluable investment and one I highly recommend.