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[February 20, 2014]
Tips on marketing your farm produce [Daily Monitor, The (Uganda)]
(Daily Monitor, The (Uganda) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Unlike the full-time rural farmers who usually have enough land to farm but can reach the market, the part-time often urban based farmers are hindered by a number of reasons.One of them is how to get their produce to the buyers. This situation is normally brought about by their tight office work schedules that allows them less time to get into the market.But not for Kenneth Mugoya, a sales person, owns a two-acre planation, which he manages alongside his full-time office job. He says he picked interest in farming, after a visit to his employer's house, two years ago."I had a small piece of land that was about 100 by 50 feet, and I was looking for a way to utilise this land. So, when I visited my employer's house, he had an acre, on which his house is plus a matooke plantation in the backyard," he says.Mugoya realised how economical this was, as all their matooke came from their plantation.He was also interested in the idea, not just to get food for his family, but also for the commercial side."I bought two acres, 40km from the city centre. I begun by planting some matooke, and later added vegetables, fruits, and others.The market, he explains, was never a problem. "I have a good marketing background, so I didn't need to go and sit at a market to sell off my matooke. I began with my colleagues at work," he points out.From his weekly visits to the plantation, he would carry a few bunches back to Kampala, that he would sell to his friends and workmates. And slowly but surely, his clientele grew.Mugoya shares the following ways he believes one can use to sell their farm produce.
Begin with FriendsIt would be wise to begin with those people that are close to you."Begin with your friends and workmates. Many of these have families, and so such an idea would be greatly helpful," he says. And you do not need to have over 100 customers."Even if they are just 10, those are enough. These will eventually help you get in touch with other potential clients, depending on how well you handle them," he adds.
Study the MarketRobert Ddamulira, CEO, Youth Environmental and Social Enterprise, says that one needs to carefully study the market before they invest in farming."Don't just go out and start planting, before studying your market, knowing what sort of people you want to be supplying, in what form you want the produce to be and the like," he explains.He adds that today's economy is majorly composed of the middle class.This means you will supply not just to individuals but to upscale markets and super markets. This is why he stresses, studying the market is important.
Be able to specializeDdamulira says that after studying the market, you need to specialise, and focus on one thing. That way, you are able to give it your best. In the end, you benefit more from your farming activities.
Have a varietyMugoya, a fully established farmer, who now operates a two acre plantation, adds that after creating a clientele, you will need to maintain them. "Provide your clients with a variety. That's why I don't just have matooke on my planation, but passion fruits, pineapples, oranges and the like. That means when I am supplying matooke to my customers every Saturday morning, I can also sell them some fruits to make juice for their children to carry to school," he explains.
Be DifferentAs part of keeping your clients, Mugoya says that you will need to be different, to give your clients a reason to stick with you."I supply my matooke, when it is very fresh, straight form the planation. So that is different from what someone will purchase from the market that has been there for over five days. By the time you take it home, it's ripe in a few days," he points out. So you will need to have a unique, and also different, option to offer from what they would find elsewhere.
Learn to maintain clientsDo not be fooled that you will need 100 clients. To be able to sell off your produce, like Mugoya explains, you only need a few, and them learn to keep them. "If you are supplying your customers with let's say matooke, then you realise they are also going to need some banana leaves, then get them also. When you supply the matooke, then add few banana leaves, not just as an extra, but as a way of keeping the relationship with your customers," he says.Alternatively, instead of letting them just have matooke alone, you can add some sweet potatoes, to accompany this.He concludes that it would be wise to establish a systematic formula for supply."You can decide to do it on a monthly basis. You supply the food stuff for a month, and since most of your customers will be salary earners, then you can get paid when the month is over. This guarantees you some extra earnings at the end of the month, aside from your salary."Mugoya sells matooke at Shs 20,000 per bunch, and adds some passion fruits, pineapples, pumpkins and cassava, to this. While his mechanism of supply may come in handy for a small scale farmer, Robert Ddamulira on the other hand points out that the methods you choose to use will depend on your production levels.
Track your costsOne will need to track costs, to avoid incurring losses."When you keep track of all your expenses, especially in the case of animal rearing, you are able to estimate how much is spent on feeds, treatment, labour and the like. In the end, you know how much you should earn, in case of a sale," Ddamulira explains. "Failure to track costs can lead you to spend more that you earn, on your animals or crops," he says.Currently, Ddamulira supplies over 130 trays of eggs from his poultry farm to different parts of the city. Given his day-time job, this seems rather inconveniencing some times, especially when he has to do the tasks himself. For this, he decided to sub-contract that role, by hiring boda boda cyclists."You will need to create a team, with different people taking on different roles. That way, work is shared, and the business continues to grow," he explains. It would be wise to note that when you set out to invest in farming, whether it is small or large scale, you will need to seek channels to grow the business.
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