While South African agriculture is a success story, individual farmers experience the weather and market fluctuations differently. Some crops are particularly vulnerable to sudden climatic and economic shifts, and different parts of the country handle short- and medium-term farming obstacles with variable confidence and resilience.
If you are facing problems, you may find yourself wondering, Should I sell my farm or just change things and adapt to the circumstances?
Making changes and diversifying …
There are a few more alternative routes you should consider going before setting your heart on selling your farm, like conservation agriculture or permaculture or the latest in precision farming. Study the market and identify niche products that are in demand in your area. Build relationships with local restaurants and shopkeepers and get to know what sells really well.
Are you a crop farmer? Is there a different crop you should try? Or look at doing a different livestock species or adopt a mixed crop-livestock farming strategy. Instead of giving up on your farm, you can diversify what you do on it. It might well save your business and bring back the joy of it, too. Go through the overviews of all livestock options on AgribookDigital. And the crop overviews on the website are divided into horticulture, agronomy/field crops and industrial crops.
Consider going into speciality veg such as baby carrots and baby greens that enjoy relatively stable popularity in the food industry. Switch to producing edible oils, vinegars, or other base products that are in almost every pantry. Think creatively!
Remember to take your cue from the market. Don’t grow something and then look for someone who will buy it. Find the different marketing options at https://agribook.co.za/marketing-finance/marketing/.
Look for available incentives – financial and otherwise. The Western Cape Department of Agriculture has the Alternative Crops Fund (ACF), for example. The ACF is a R3 million per annum fund to boost exports and bolster land reform. The alternative, smaller crops being punted include berries and pomegranates. Read about the Biodiversity Stewardship options which include funding options in some cases. Certainly there are tax breaks and access to conservation experts to deal with soil issues, for example. See https://agribook.co.za/natural-resource-management/biodiversity-and-ecosystems-services/#bioregional
Mixing farming operations with farm stays/agritourism increases security and brings in another revenue stream. See the Tourism and agriculture page at https://agribook.co.za/adding-value/tourism-and-agriculture/.
Most of the money in the agrifood chain goes to the processing side. How can you get involved here? Find the adding value options at https://agribook.co.za/adding-value/. Adding value can be as simple as supplying biltong or meat that is already cooked. Instead of simply selling milk, also make yoghurt, cheese or amasi.
If it Is really time to sell…
When the thought of selling your farm outweighs all other alternatives, there is plenty of preparation to do before you can rest easy. First and foremost, do not stop farming while you are searching for a buyer. Your farm will be much more appealing in its fully working condition than at a standstill.
Time the sale right and do not try to sell when crops are bad and droughts have devastated your area. When potential buyers come around, use the research you have done on the points we mentioned above to emphasise the potential for future growth and diversification.
Selling your farm is not an easy step, and you will be wise to explore your other options first. If your heart is set on selling, however, do not be shy about using the research you have done to your advantage.
By Bruce Hakutizwi with additions by Craig Macaskill. Hakutizwi is Director of North America for BusinessesForSale.com, “the world’s largest online marketplace for buying and selling small and medium size businesses”. Macaskill is the editor of AgribookDigital.